Anti-Ahmadinejad MPs hold sway in Iran's new parliament
Iran's parliament looks certain to be dominated by MPs critical of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to preliminary election results that also showed a big turnover in lawmakers.
The partial results, from elections held last Friday, accounted for two-thirds of the 290 seats in parliament.
However the composition, given by Iranian media, remained obscure and sometimes contradictory -- reflecting the country's complex politics based on individual MPs' alliances rather than formal political parties.
Overall, the new parliament is to be virtually entirely conservative, with the previous 60 reformist MPs winnowed down to a bare handful following the boycott of the main reformist blocs in the elections.
Conservatives opposed to or critical of Ahmadinejad held sway, according to reports.
Two such coalitions, the United Conservatives Front and the Front of Islamic Iran's Resistance, easily took most of the votes in rural areas, where a third of Iran's 75-million strong population lives.
The Front of the Islamic Revolution's Endurance, a rival grouping favorable to Ahmadinejad, was left trailing.
In the Tehran region, where half the ballots had been counted, it looked to be the same story.
The United Conservatives Front picked up 14 seats, while the Islamic Revolution's Endurance took 10. The remaining six seats were still being decided.
Ali Motahari, an MP behind an unprecedented move to have parliament subject Ahmadinejad to questioning, won back his seat, but another 14 candidates from his Voice of the Nation movement were not so fortunate.
Parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani, who leads the the United Conservatives Front, was, without surprise, re-elected in the holy city of Qom.
Information available on Sunday showed new blood was injected into the parliament, with at least 80 of the outgoing deputies being defeated and 47 winning re-election.
Another 30 MPs who had wanted to try for re-election were barred before the elections by the Guardian Council, an appointed body of clerics and jurists that vets candidates and validates poll results.
The regime declared a voter turnout of 64 percent -- significantly higher than the 55 percent recorded in the last parliamentary elections in 2008 -- as a victory for Iran as it confronts the West over its controversial nuclear programme.
Iranian Interior minister Mostafa Mohammad Najar said the participation "was epic-making" and "dissuaded the enemies". Conservative newspapers called it "historic".