Iranians Vote in Runoff That Could Shape Presidential Race

Posted May 4th, 2012 at 1:55 am (UTC-5)
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Iranian voters are casting ballots in parliamentary runoff elections Friday that could shape the make-up of the 2013 presidential election.

Sixty-five seats are at stake in Iran's 290 seat parliament, with 25 of those seats in the capital, Tehran.

Conservative opponents of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won a majority of seats in the first round of voting in March.

Many of those opponents are loyalists to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Analysts say relations between the two men have become strained. The president upset Khamenei loyalists last year when he challenged the supreme leader's authority in appointing top government officials.

Iranian state-run media reports say the supreme leader urged citizens to cast ballots on Friday, saying the more votes that are cast, the more “courageous, capable and authoritative” the elected officials would be.

Mr. Ahmadinejad is in his second and final term, but the outcome of Friday's polling could influence the election of his successor.

The voting comes at a time when Iran is feeling increased economic pressure from international sanctions because of its controversial nuclear program.