High turnout expected as polls open in Iranian elections

Voting began Friday morning in Iran's parliamentary elections, which mark the first test of the political mood since Iran's nuclear deal with major powers reached in July.

Participation levels were high according to local media reports, with eyewitnesses reporting queuing at many polling stations in Tehran.

President Hassan Rowhani said he was pleased with the high turnout. "The participation of the people is a valuable investment in their own future."

"We could be breaking the 70 per cent mark today," said leading candidate Mohammed Reza Aref, who is hopeful that voters will bring an end to the 12-year dominance of Iran's coalition of conservatives and hardliners.

At the heart of the election is a three-way clash between conservatives, hardliners and reformers.

More than 4,800 candidates are running for 290 seats.

Voters were also electing the 88 members of the Assembly of Experts, the body that selects a supreme leader, who is Iran's head of state, and monitors his work.

Almost 55 million people are eligible to vote including 8.5 million in the capital Tehran.

Polls are open from 8 am to 6 pm (0430 GMT to 1430 GMT), but the Interior Ministry believes voting may be extended for several hours. The ministry is expecting the first reliable results on Saturday.

Last update: Fri, 26/02/2016 - 11:07

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