Iranian Vote Tests Support for President
Iranians are voting Friday in a parliamentary election with limited choices. Many pro-reform politicians were barred from running as candidates.
Parliamentary elections are under way in Iran, where allies of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are expected to maintain control.
With Iran's clerical leadership barring many reformist candidates on the grounds that they are not loyal to Islam, the vote is being seen as a test of Ahmadinejad's support among conservatives, who have been split over backing his policies.
The vote is the eighth parliamentary election in Iran since the 1979 Islamic revolution. There are 290 seats at stake, and some 4,500 candidates are on the ballot — hundreds fewer than had wanted to run.
The country's Guardian Council had disqualified some 1,700 candidates, saying that they were insufficiently loyal to Islam or the revolution.
But there are now deep divisions among conservative factions, with some still backing the policies of Ahmadinejad, and others critical of his economic approach, which has saddled the country with 20 percent inflation, growing unemployment, and gasoline rationing.
Reformist groups, which lost control of the parliament four years ago, are seeking a comeback — or at least an increase in seats.
Because of the disqualification of reformist candidates, many Iranians have said they will not vote. But the reformist parties urged their followers to cast ballots.
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