Early returns show big lead for reformers in Iranian elections

Click to follow
The Independent Online

As the reformers' victory in the Iranian elections became more emphatic by the hour yesterday, governments in the Middle East, Europe, and beyond expressed hopes for a new, easier era in relations with the government in Tehran.

As the reformers' victory in the Iranian elections became more emphatic by the hour yesterday, governments in the Middle East, Europe, and beyond expressed hopes for a new, easier era in relations with the government in Tehran.

In the latest setback for conservatives, early returns yesterday showed reformers leading in 28 of the capital's 30 seats in the parliament, or Majlis. Among the biggest shocks was the failure of theformer president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the centrist leader backed by the traditionalist clergy and tipped forthe crucial post of speaker, to win a seat outright. He may now be forced into the indignity of a run-off.

Heading the list of winners were reformers, led by Mohammad-Reza Khatami, brother of President Mohammad Khatami, who was 80,000 votes clear of Jamileh Kadivar, the leading female vote-winner in last year's Tehran municipal elections. In fifth place came Alireza Nouri, brother of Abdollah Nouri, the dissident cleric jailed for insulting Islam.

Full results will be known later this week, but there is little doubt that reformers will emerge with a commanding majority in the assembly.

Reformers prevailed even in the holy city of Mashad, while conservatives have so far clinched just 43 seats. Some 60 more will be decided by a run-off. However, it remains to be seen whether the new parliament can deliver the change yearned for by Iran's increasingly urbanised population.

The outside world is nevertheless optimistic that it will soon be dealing with a more constructive and outwardlooking government in Tehran.

The Turkish Prime Minister, Bulent Ecevit, predicted an easing of Ankara's disputes with Iran over its alleged backing for Islamic radicalism and support for Kurdish guerrillas operating from bases inside Iran. Arab states too were looking to further rapprochement. Further down the line, the election could even produce a thaw with the United States.

In London, Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, said the vote was a signal of the Iranian people's desire for change, and vindication of Britain's strengthened dialogue with Iran.

Comments