Polls opened in Iran at 8AM today for the run-off parliamentary elections, which have been a test of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s ability to establish some influence in the legislative assembly.

Reports indicate that 65 of the 290 seats in the next Iranian Parliament are still up for grabs. In March, the first round of voting consolidated the power of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, as his loyalists won a majority against Ahmadinejad’s supporters.

Ayatollah Khamenei rallied Iranians to vote in the elections both in March and today, while reformists, who were isolated and silenced after the 2009 presidential election, largely boycotted the parliamentary elections, challenging whether they are truly transparent.

Reformists alleged that the 2009 presidential election was marred by vote fraud in favour of Ahmadinejad, but the Supreme Leader refused to heed their demand for a recount and instead oversaw a crackdown on protesters and reformists leaders.

In the absence of the reformists in the parliamentary race, the elections have been a test of how well Ahmadinejad can maintain a foothold in the government; since his re-election, he has found himself increasingly at odds with the conservative hardliners loyal to the Supreme Leader.

The Guardian Council announced that about 10,000 candidates are running in the run-off, and more than 4,000 of them are in Tehran.

The results reportedly will be announced after the Guardian Council has checked the veracity of the votes on May 11.
Islamic Republic authorities have been rallying voters to participate in the elections, arguing that a high turnout could influence the outcome of the coming nuclear talks with the G5+1.

Iran met with the G5+1 in Istanbul on April 14, and both sides announced that the meeting was positive and constructive. The next meeting will be on May 23 in Baghdad.