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Iranian Elections: A Victory for Rouhani-Rafsanjani Forces

Feb. 29, 2016 (EIRNS)—With the final results of the Iranian elections announced Monday, Feb. 29, by the Interior Ministry, a coalition of moderates and reformists has won a majority in the Majlis. The reformist candidates won at least 85 seats, and moderate conservatives, who will align with President Hassan Rouhani, won an additional 73 seats, giving the two groups an absolute majority in the 290 seat Majlis. Altogether 59 seats will be decided in a runoff election to be held sometime in April.

The moderate coalition also won a clear majority in the elections for the 88 seats on the Assembly of Experts, which will select the successor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei when he dies. The Assembly serves an eight-year term, and it is widely expected that Khamenei will have to be replaced during that timeframe. The two leading hardliners on the current Assembly of Experts—Assembly Chairman Mohammed Yazdi and Mohammed-Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi—were both defeated, according to a late news report from BBC, meaning that the only hardliner re-elected to the Assembly is Ahmad Jannati, who is head of the Guardian Council, which purged many candidates from the ballots before the Feb. 26 elections.

Both former President and moderate bloc leader Ayatollah Ali Hashemi Rafsanjani and President Rouhani were re-elected to the Assembly of Experts. The reform faction won all of the 30 Majlis seats from Tehran and 15 of the 16 Tehran seats on the Assembly of Experts. The most hardline “Principalist” slate in the Majlis elections won only 68 seats, down from its 100 seats in the previous Majlis.

These electoral shifts will give President Rouhani a mandate to move ahead with the economic openings, and will put more pressure on Khamenei to accommodate to those shifts. Khamenei is historically more closely aligned with the hardliners, but he has survived in power by playing a balancing act, factoring in the public mood.

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