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Partial Results Show Iranian Moderates Poised For Big Wins In Tehran

An Iranian man and woman check the names of candidates before voting at a polling station in the holy city of Qom, about 80 miles south of the capital Tehran, on Friday. Long lines formed and voting was extended as Iranians cast ballots in an election test for President Hassan Rouhani, who hopes to curb conservative dominance after a nuclear deal with world powers.

Partial results from Iran's elections on Friday indicate that pro-reform moderates will win all 30 of Tehran's parliamentary seats — a victory for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and a blow to Iran's hard-liners.

Tehran's delegation is only a fraction of Iran's 290-seat parliament, and NPR's Peter Kenyon reports that conservative representatives are likely to do well in other parts of the country — but the gains in the capital are significant.

"Initial returns gave 29 of Tehran's 30 seats to reform and center-right candidates, with Gholamali Haddad-Adel the only hardliner. Now Iranian state TV says he too appears to be losing his seat," Peter reports from Tehran.

Reformists seem poised to win those 30 seats despite many pro-reform candidates being disqualified from the election before voting began. Moderate voters hoped that a heavy turnout would allow their relatively small number of candidates to edge out hard-liner opponents — and in the capital, at least, the strategy appears to have worked.

Moderate candidates also did well in Iran's other election, for the Assembly of Experts, which will someday choose the next Supreme Leader of Iran. "President Hassan Rouhani and former President Ali Akhbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, both of whom have been embraced by reformists, are the leading vote getters," Peter says.

The election is the first since last year's landmark nuclear deal that required Iran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of international sanctions. Rouhani promoted the deal, in the face of hardliner opposition.

If the partial results hold and the moderates who supported the deal expand their presence in the legislature, the Associated Press writes, that could "pave the way for increased economic openness and greater cooperation with the West on regional issues like the war against the Islamic State group."

The gains would be a sharp change in Iran's parliament, the AP notes: "Reformists currently hold fewer than 20 seats and have been virtually shut out of politics since losing their parliamentary majority in the 2004 elections."

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