iranian conservatives “won” a large majority in parliament after completion of the second round of voting. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Conservatives won 69% of the votes, reformist garnered 16% and independents obtained about 14%. Of course, it is difficult ascertaining the extent of popularity of Ahmadinejad because so few reform candidates were even allowed to have their name on the ballot due to actions by clerical authorities. The reformers fared poorly in Tehran, but did better than expected in more rural areas of the nation. Only one r eform candidate succeeded in gaining a seat from Tehran, a suprising development, given the strong anti-Ahmadinejad feeling among many young well-educated Iranians.
There is a “Catch-22″ aspect to Iranian elections. Reform candidates are not allowed to run which makes difficult generating enthusiasm among reform components of the population which, in turn, results in low voter turnout and victory for conservative candidates.
The only good news is the increasing division within Ahmadinejad’s conservative party. Many conservatives are disappointed with his failure to curb inflation, to stimulate the economy, high unemployment, and his rhtetoric which only anatagonizes potential support for Iran in the world.