Voting starts in Iran’s parliamentary elections

By Xinhua

Tehran : Iranians on Friday began voting in the country’s eighth parliamentary elections in which conservatives are expected to retain their control of the legislature.

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The polling stations opened at 8 a.m. (0430 GMT) Friday morning and were due to close at 6:00 p.m. (1430 GMT). But the deadline would be extended if there is heavy turnout, the state television reported.

According to Iranian interior ministry figures, about 4,500 candidates have been cleared to compete for the 290-seat legislature.

Over 45,000 polling stations have been set up in 207 constituencies for people to elect representatives to the parliament, according to the official IRNA news agency’s report.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who was among the first to participate in the voting, urged the Iranian people to cast their ballots and asked the candidates to fulfill their campaign promises.

“This election plays a very important role for our country,” Khamenei was quoted by the state television as saying. “The Iranian people can decide their fate through this election.”

Iran’s leaders have called for a high turnout in the elections to show Western countries that the Islamic Republic is unified at a time of mounting tensions over its disputed nuclear program.