Rouhani’s supporters expected to make gains as votes are counted in Iran’s election

by Ramin Mostaghim and Shashank Bengali  |  published on February 28, 2016

Moderates were poised for a strong showing as votes were counted Saturday in Iranian parliamentary elections that served as a referendum on the nuclear deal Iran struck with six world powers last year.

Supporters of the deal and of President Hassan Rouhani were expected to pick up more seats in the 290-seat parliament. That could allow Rouhani to pursue further rapprochement with the West, implement some domestic reforms and attract more foreign investment — aims that had been thwarted by conservative hard-liners in the previous parliament.

While none of the several competing factions were likely to gain a majority, anti-Western conservatives and their allies were likely to retain control of the legislature — as they have since 2004 — after thousands of moderate candidates were disqualified before the vote.

In preliminary results released late Saturday, two parliamentary candidates allied with Rouhani, Mohammad Reza Aref and Ali Motahari, garnered the most votes in the Tehran constituency, the country’s largest.

Rouhani thanked the people of Iran in a statement and said, “Whatever the results, the reputation of the Islamic Republic of Iran has been enhanced.”

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