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Iran Elections 2012: Parliament Hardliners Expected To Get Boost

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An Iranian cleric casts his ballot for the parliamentary elections at Masoumeh shrine in the city of Qom, 78 miles (125 kilometers) south of the Tehran, Iran, Friday, March 2, 2012. The balloting for the 290-member parliament is the first major voting since the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June 2009 and the mass protests and crackdowns that followed. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
An Iranian cleric casts his ballot for the parliamentary elections at Masoumeh shrine in the city of Qom, 78 miles (125 kilometers) south of the Tehran, Iran, Friday, March 2, 2012. The balloting for the 290-member parliament is the first major voting since the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June 2009 and the mass protests and crackdowns that followed. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

TEHRAN, Iran — The younger sister of Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Saturday failed to win a parliamentary seat in Ahmadinejad's hometown as the president's conservative rivals won a big portion of the seats in early returns.

The semiofficial Mehr news agency reported the final results from a small town southeast of the capital showing that Parvin Ahmadinejad, a close ally of the president, was defeated by her conservative rival.

Parvin Ahmadinejad was running for a seat in Garmsar, about 35 miles (60 kilometers) southeast of Tehran. She is a current member of Tehran's municipal council.

Her failure in President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's hometown is seen as a big blow to him in the first balloting since his disputed re-election in 2009.

Early returns also showed conservative rivals of Ahmadinejad were elected in many other constituencies.

Out of 60 winners, at least 46 conservative opponents of Ahmadinejad had won seats in parliament. Three other liberal-leaning candidates were elected. The tendency of the remaining 11 can be divided between supporters of Ahmadinejad and centrists.

More than 3,440 parliamentary hopefuls – all vetted by Iran's ruling Islamic system and none with links to the Green Movement that led protests after Ahmadinejad's re-election – were running for seats.

The early results suggest Ahmadinejad will face a more belligerent parliament in the nearly two years remaining in his second four-year term.

Nationwide, final results are expected to be released during the weekend and early next week. Results in small towns, with few representatives in parliament, appear sooner than cities like the capital, Tehran, which has some 5 million eligible voters and 30 legislators.

The new parliament will begin its work in June. It is expected to boost the voices of hard-line opponents of Ahmadinejad in next year's presidential elections.

The results for the 290-seat parliament will have no direct influence over Iran's nuclear program or other critical affairs, such as military or oil policies.

However, high turnout could heighten Tehran's defiance of the international community's effort to halt Iran's nuclear program, which the West suspects is trying to build a weapon, a charge Iran denies.

Mehr said some 70 percent of more than 48 million eligible voters participated in the Friday elections.

In 2008 and 2004, the turnout for parliamentary elections was 57 percent and 51 percent, respectively.

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