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Partial Results Announced In Iran Elections Called A 'Sham' By Pompeo

An Iranian woman holds a portrait of former and current Supreme Leaders, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, at the polling statation at the Shah Abdul Azim shrine in the south of Tehran, February 21, 2020.

The results of Friday's parliamentary elections in Iran for smaller constituencies are being announced on Saturday. So far candidate vote results for 66 out of a total of 208 constituencies nationwide have been announced.

According to numbers made public so far, run-off elections will be held in several constituencies where candidates have failed to gain a minimum of 20 percent of the votes in their constituencies.

Run-of elections will be held on April 17.

In a statement on February 20, the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the Iranian elections a "sham". Referring to the disqualification of more than 7000 candidates from even running in the elections he said the process is not free or fair.

Results for the 30 seats of Tehran were announced on Saturday, a day before expected. All the seats have gone to Principlists. The number of votes and the participation rate have not been announced yet.

The capital city carries special weight in parliament, with more influential politicians usually elected from the country's political center of gravity. In this election the hardliner watchdog, the Guardian Council refused to allow many key Reformist candidates to run and instead Principalists or conservatives are expected to dominate.

The list of candidates offered by Principlists in Tehran is headed by Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf, the former Mayor of Tehran who has twice run for presidency with no success and has been accused of large-scale corruption during his tenure as Tehran's mayor.

The participation rate for the country and individual provinces or the capital have not yet been announced, either. According to unofficial reports participation is much lower than the previous election in which 62 percent of Iranians voted.

Iranian officials interpret a high turnout as proof of the legitimacy of the regime. In the days leading to the elections, they have also been saying that high voter turnout will prove the ineffectiveness of U.S. policies toward Iran. Nearly 60 million Iranians are eligible to vote in this election.

Many activists including some political prisoners had called on Iranians to boycott the elections in protest to what they say is "engineering the elections" and the very harsh suppression of protesters in November and January.

Ahead of the elections in a statement Mostafa Tajzadeh, a prominent reformist politician, said by appointing hardliners to the Guardian Council, the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has given one political faction the power to engineer the elections.

"Therefore, the responsibility of turning 'elections' to 'appointments' primarily lies with the Leader himself. I would vote in an election, but not for appointments," Tajzadeh said.

In addition to endorsing candidates for running in the elections, the Guardian Council must approve the results of the elections and has the power to cancel votes in a constituency or void the votes of any ballot box.

In the past, reformists have on several occasions alleged that the Council cancelled votes of reformist candidates to allow their rivals to win. A famous case is the cancellation of 534 ballot boxes in Tehran in 2000 which eliminated Alireza Rajai, a reformist candidate, and changed the results in Tehran.

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    Maryam Sinaiee

    Maryam Sinaiee is a British-Iranian journalist, political analyst and former correspondent of The National, who contributes to Radio Farda.