President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared victory in Iran’s parliamentary elections insisting the people had expressed suppoort for his anti-Bush policies of confrontation. Although conservatives easily won a majority considering reformers were only allowed to put up candidates in one-third of the districts, Ahmadinejad now confronts large numbers of conservatives who dislike his style of governance and his handling of the nation’s economy. Of the 290 seats in parliament, 130 went to conservatives, but only 70 of them are die hard supporters of Ahmadinejad, the rest are conservatives who dislike his economic policies and his failure to get the economy moving. About 39 independents were elected, 31 reformers, and five seats were assigned to minority groups like Jews, Zoroastrian and Christians. Reformers claim at least 14 Independents will support reform ideas.
The number of voting did increase from 51% to 60%, but reform followers are unable to vote for someone who represents their views in many districts. One lesson of the Iran election is the ability of Ahmadinejad to use anti-iran statements by Bush as a weapon to gain votes. Hopefully, a new president will be able to lower the rhetoric and work to build connections to Iranian religious leaders who wield the real power.