Iran’s State Media: Hardliners Win All Seats for Tehran

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -
Full ballot boxes are pictured after the parliamentary election voting time ended in Tehran, Iran, Feb. 22. (Nazanin Tabatabaee/ WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Nazanin Tabatabaee via Reuters)

Iranian hardliners have won all 30 parliamentary seats in the capital, Tehran, state media reported on Sunday, but officials have yet to announce the voter turnout from the nationwide elections two days ago.

State media also said that former Tehran mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, a top contender for the post of parliamentary speaker, was the top winner in the capital, with more that 1.2 million votes.

Voters had limited options on Friday’s ballot, as more than 7,000 potential candidates had been disqualified, most of them reformists and moderates. Among those disqualified were 90 sitting members of Iran’s 290-seat Parliament who had wanted to run for re-election.

Officials have still not released any figures for voter turnout, which is widely seen as a measure of how Iranians view the country’s embattled theocratic government.

A low turnout could signal widespread dissatisfaction with Iran’s clerical rulers and the system they preside over. Iranian officials usually release turnout figures a day after elections.

The official IRNA news agency said ballot counting had come to an end, with 201 out of 208 constituencies decided. The seven relatively small constituencies will be decided in a run-off election later in April.

Iran’s supreme leader early Sunday accused enemy “propaganda” of trying to dissuade people from voting by amplifying the threat of the coronavirus.

A range of crises has beset Iran in the past year, including widespread anti-government protests in November and U.S. sanctions piling pressure on the plunging economy.

In remarks from his office in Tehran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed the “negative propaganda” of Iran’s enemies for trying to discourage people from voting in Friday’s elections.

“Their media did not ignore the tiniest opportunity for discouraging people and resorting to the pretext of diseases and the virus,” he said.

Iran reported its first case of the virus two days before the national polls, and eight deaths have been reported due to the virus since then. That’s the highest death toll from the virus outside of China, where the outbreak first emerged a couple of months ago.

Iran has confirmed 43 cases in total in at least five different cities, including the capital, Tehran, where some pharmacies have already run out of masks and hand sanitizer.

Schools were shut down in Tehran and six other cities for two days, starting Sunday, to prevent the spread of the virus.

Officials across Iran encouraged people to vote in the days leading up to the election, even as concerns over the virus’ spread began to rise.

On the eve of the vote, the Trump administration sanctioned five election officials and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo slammed the election as a “sham.”