By Milena Faustova
There have been long queues outside schools, mosques and community centres as voters in Iran – mostly men but also women – massively turned out for Friday’s elections to fill the seats in their country’s ninth Majlis, or Parliament. There were posters with the names of parties and the portraits of candidates around, and, notably, there was no secrecy in the ballot casting. The voters filled their ballot papers on open tables in the full view of their comrades and returning officers. Observers believe this reflected the non-confrontational nature of the latest elections, with Iran’s traditional arm-wrestling between the reformers and the conservatives at its quietest in decades.
From huge and masterfully inscribed portrait posters put up across Teheran, Iran’s supreme spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged voters to come to the polling stations and vote for the prosperity and well-being of the Islamic Republic. The portraits of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad were conspicuous by their almost total absence. His backers, however, command a convincing majority among the electorate, and the main pro-Ahmadinejad political party, which calls itself the Continued Islamic Revolution Front, is poised to easily beat off a challenge from the anti-Ahmadinejad Voice of the Nation party.
The first counts from Friday’s elections are expected to emerge on Sunday morning.