Iran extended voting for a third time yesterday in an election expected to see conservatives tighten their grip on parliament, amid voter apathy after the disqualification of thousands of candidates.
The 11th parliamentary election since the 1979 Islamic Revolution comes after a surge in tensions between Tehran and Washington, and Iran’s accidental downing of a Ukrainian airliner that sparked anti-government protests. As he cast the first ballot in the election, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged all Iranians to take part, saying that doing so would “guarantee the country’s national interests”.Voters formed long queues in the morning at polling stations in south Tehran, where conservatives have a solid support base.
Far fewer were seen waiting to vote in upmarket northern neighbourhoods.
Turnout was estimated at around 40% nationwide and 30% in Tehran at 6:00pm (1430 GMT), according to Fars news agency, close to the conservatives.
Fars said the official turnout figure would be released today.
Authorities extended voting three times throughout the evening, pushing poll closures back from 6:00pm (1430 GMT) to 11:00pm (1930 GMT). State television showed images from more than 20 cities and towns of people still queued up to vote around 8:00pm while announcing the second extension.
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