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Iranians vote today in the second round of parliamentary elections that are set to increase the majority held by opponents of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, boosting the position of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Today’s balloting will determine the winners in districts where no candidate received the minimum 25 percent of votes in the first round on March 2. Sixty-five of parliament’s 290 seats were left undecided, and the top two candidates in each will contest the run-off, according to the Interior Ministry. In Tehran, 25 of the capital’s 30 seats are at stake today.
Most seats so far have been won by opponents of Ahmadinejad who have criticized him for poor economic management and for failing to show sufficient allegiance to Khamenei, 72, the country’s highest authority. The president’s sister, Parvin, lost her race in their hometown of Garmsar, southeast of the capital.
Today’s vote takes place as Iranians grapple with a surge in prices following tightening international sanctions in the past six months due to the country’s nuclear program.
The economic strains have opened rifts within the Iranian leadership. In March, Ahmadinejad became the first president in the history of the Islamic Republic to be summoned by the parliament and questioned about allegations of political and economic mismanagement.
The outcome of the election is unlikely to alter Iran’s nuclear policy, which is decided by Khamenei, who has the final say on all affairs of state. The results will shape the political landscape ahead of presidential elections next year. Ahmadinejad, who is completing his second term, isn’t eligible for re-election.
Polling stations open at 8 a.m. local time and are due to close at 6 p.m., with the possibility of an extension if voters are still waiting to cast ballots. In the first round, initial results were released within 24 hours of the polls closing.
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