TEHRAN: Conservatives appeared to be in the lead as the first results of Iran's parliamentary election came in Saturday, amid expectations of a low turnout after the disqualification of many candidates, reports AFP.
Friday's election came after months of steeply escalating tensions between Iran and its decades-old arch foe the United States.Voters had been widely expected to stay away in droves, disillusioned over unfulfilled promises and struggling to cope in a country whose economy has buckled under harsh US sanctions.
By mid-morning on Saturday, 1,063,860 votes had been counted in 41 constituencies across Iran, according to figures released by the National Elections Committee and reported by semi-official news agency ISNA.
There were still 167 other constituencies to tally, said a spokesman for the committee, including bigger provinces such as Tehran and Fars.
"We will try to publish the final figures tonight, and if that task takes too long, tomorrow," spokesman Esmail Mousavi told state television.
With official figures still coming in, news agencies close to conservatives and ultra-conservatives have predicted a landslide victory for their candidates.
An unofficial tally published by Fars news agency said the fate of 183 of parliament's 290 seats had already been decided, with 135 conservative candidates winning office.It put the total number of reformists to claim seats at 20 and independents at 28.
The 11th parliamentary election since the 1979 Islamic Revolution comes after a surge in tensions between Tehran and Washington, and Iran's accidental downing of a Ukrainian airliner that sparked anti-government protests.
Turnout was estimated at around 40 percent nationwide and 30 percent in Tehran at the scheduled close of polls at 1430 GMT on Friday, according to Fars.
But authorities extended polling for another six hours to allow as many people as possible to vote.
Fars said the official turnout figure would be released on Saturday, while official results are not expected to be announced until Sunday.
Authorities said schools would be closed on Saturday in dozens of urban centres while the count went ahead.
Iran fell into a deep recession after US President Donald Trump reimposed sanctions following Washington's unilateral withdrawal from a landmark nuclear deal in 2018.
Around half of the 16,033 hopefuls in the election were barred by the Guardian Council, a conservative-dominated vetting body, most of them moderates and reformists.