Hard-Liners Dominate Iran Parliamentary Vote That Saw Boycott Calls and Apparently Low Turnout

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Iranian hard-line politicians dominated the country's vote for parliament, results released Monday showed, maintaining their hold on the legislature in a vote that saw calls for a boycott and an apparently low turnout.

Authorities still have not released turnout figures for Friday's vote, nor given any reason for the delay. Turnout is suspected to be low after polling stations in the capital, Tehran, saw few voters.

It remains unclear whether turnout was depressed by voter apathy or an active desire to send a message to Iran's theocracy, though some in the country pushed for a boycott, including imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Narges Mohammadi. The vote also was the first since the 2022 mass protests over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, killed after being arrested by police over allegedly not wearing her required hijab to the liking of authorities.

Of 290 races held for parliament, voters decided 245 seats in the first round, Interior Ministry spokesman Mohsen Eslami said. The remaining 45 will need to have runoff elections, which will be held in either April or May as winning candidates failed to get a mandatory 20% of the vote.

Of the 245 politicians elected, 200 were supported by hard-line groups in voter guides published before the election, according to an Associated Press analysis.

The analysis identified some 45 incoming lawmakers as being relatively moderate, conservative or independent. The current parliament includes 18 pro-reform politicians and 38 others identified as independents.

Of those winning seats, only 11 were women. The current parliament has 16 women as legislators.

Authorities broadly barred politicians calling for any change within the country's government, known broadly as reformists, from running in the election. Those calling for radical reforms were barred or didn't bother to register as candidates.

The failure of any candidate to get 20% of the vote can happen because many votes are voided, or because there are too many candidates in the race. Iran's 2021 presidential election, which saw hard-liner Ebrahim Raisi elected, witnessed a high number of voided votes, potentially from those who felt obligated to cast a ballot but didn't want to select any of the government-approved candidates.

Vote counting across Iran, done by hand, had wrapped up by Monday. Authorities gave no immediate explanation for not announcing the turnout, though it was easily available to the authorities since each voter was electronically registered upon voting.

The boycott calls have put the government under renewed pressure -- since its 1979 Islamic Revolution, Iran's theocracy has based its legitimacy in part on turnout in elections.

"The Friday elections appear to have reaffirmed that Iranian policies will not change in the foreseeable future, but the vote demonstrated the Iranian public is broadly dissatisfied with the course the Islamic Republic is taking," the New York-based Soufan Center think tank said in an analysis Monday.

Iranians on Friday also voted for members of the country's 88-seat Assembly of Experts, who will serve an eight-year term on a panel which will appoint the country's next supreme leader after Khamenei, 84. Barred from that race was former Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate and a current member of the assembly who reached Iran's 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.

Raisi, a protégé of Khamenei who has been discussed as possible successor to the supreme leader, won a seat again. Another possible successor is Khamenei's son, Mojtaba, who holds no position in the government.