Results of Iran's parliamentary elections coming in today (Saturday) indicate a big victory for conservative candidates backed by the country's hard-line Islamic leadership.
Interior Ministry officials in Tehran confirmed that conservative candidates had won a majority of the first districts where results of Friday's voting were available (early today) -- several dozen of the 290 seats in the Iranian Parliament, the Majlis.
A number of reformist party officials say they expect conservatives will have a solid majority in the next Parliament.
Islamic conservatives were all but guaranteed victory after Iran's hard-line Guardian Council disqualified 24,00 candidates -- primarily reformists -- and barred them from taking part in the elections. Those disqualified included more than 80 members of the outgoing Majlis, which was dominated by reformists.
The Guardian Council, a group appointed by Iran's senior Muslim clerics and their allies, has veto power over Parliament. The Council's action against reformist candidates prompted calls for a boycott of the voting.
Conservatives, led by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said voters would would show their loyalty to Islam and Iran by taking part in the election. Hard-liners are claiming a high voter turnout, but there is no independent report on how many of Iran's 46-million registered voters cast ballots Friday.
Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.