Iranians began voting Friday in a second round of parliamentary elections for 68 seats of the 290-seat assembly, the country’s state television reported. About 136 candidates are running for constituencies where they received less than 25 percent of votes in the February general elections.
More than 15,300 polling stations have been set up across 21 provinces in the country and voting is being held in 55 cities and towns, according to Interior Ministry officials, Press TV reported. The Islamic Republic’s economy has been the election campaign’s key issue, with the country’s inflation at about 15 percent and its unemployment rate standing at 10 percent, the report added.
In the February parliamentary election, President Hassan Rouhani’s moderate and reformist allies won all of Tehran’s 30 parliamentary seats in elections, but did not win a majority. The current parliament comprises of the hardline supporters of the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini.
At least 21 people compete for each seat in the legislature and the elected candidates are expected to serve from May for a four-year term. The new parliament will begin its session on May 27. The results hold significance because lawmakers from Tehran generally determine the political stance of the House. Furthermore, a moderate-dominated parliament can also influence the reelection of Rouhani as president in 2017. Rouhani played a key role in a nuclear deal with the U.S. and five other world powers despite bitter disagreement from hardliners in his own country.
The country went to polls following the lifting of sanctions by world powers against the Islamic Republic under the nuclear deal, which has yet to deliver its promised benefits, as the country is in recession.