Supporters of Iran's President Claim Election Win
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
There has also been an election in Iran, and Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is declaring victory for his conservative supporters in last Friday's parliamentary election. But the balloting showed the conservatives split, and the new parliament could present problems for the president. NPR's Mike Shuster is following the results. And what is known about the outcome, Mike?
MIKE SHUSTER: Well, we don't know the outcome totally. There hasn't been final results yet disclosed by the government. And, in fact, I think the vote counters, the government - in the government are still counting votes in a minority of the constituencies around Iran, but still a substantial number. Unofficial results give the conservatives - many of whom support President Ahmadinejad - an absolute majority in the new parliament. There are 290 seats in the parliament, and at least 160 of them are going to go to different slates of conservatives, probably others. In addition to that, the turnout - according the Interior Ministry - was 60 percent. This is important because it, in fact, is considerably higher than it was four years ago, and the government likes to have high turnout figures to show that the people of Iran participate in the system here. However, the turnout in Tehran was only 40 percent, it looks like. And Tehran is the place where the reformists are strongest, so that may be an indication of a certain level of disillusionment among the supporters of reformers.
INSKEEP: Well, should we be surprised that conservatives did well when you have told us in recent days that a lot of the reform candidates were denied places on the ballot at all?
SHUSTER: Certainly. It was absolutely predictable that the conservatives would win this election and gain a substantial majority. The two main questions are which conservatives and whether the slates of conservatives that have critical of President Amadinejad's policies, particularly his economic policies, whether those anti-Amadinejad conservative forces did well - we don't know that yet - and also, how well the reformists did despite their difficulties and their disqualifications. They're claiming that they had 40 seats or around 40 seats in the previous parliament, and they're claiming that they're going to do better this time. So there are still some significant political questions to resolve once all the votes get counted and the results are in.
INSKEEP: Given that the results are not complete at this time, do you have any sense, Mike, about whether this is parliament that's been elected that is going to be eager to continue confronting the United States?
SHUSTER: I think that the answer to that is yes. On politics and particularly on foreign policy, it's likely that the various conservative slates will unify. On more specific issues, domestic issues in particular, especially on economic policy, it's possible that or pragmatic conservatives will go against President Amadinejad, perhaps ally with some reformists and challenge Amadinejad's policies. So on economics, there'll be some crossover. The conservatives will stay together on politics and foreign policy, most likely.
INSKEEP: NPR's Mike Shuster is in Tehran. Mike, thanks very much.
SHUSTER: You're welcome, Steve.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.