Hard-liners leading in Iran’s parliamentary election after record-low turnout

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iran’s hard-liners are leading in an initial vote count in the capital Tehran, state media reported Sunday, following a record-low turnout in a parliamentary election.

State-run IRNA news agency and state TV said 1,960 from 5,000 ballots in Tehran had been counted so far, based on an Interior Ministry report updated hourly.

Officials have not yet released turnout figures from Saturday’s election. However, IRNA said it was 41 percent, based on unofficial reports.

In the last parliamentary election in 2019, only 42 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot in what was considered to be the lowest turnout since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Hard-liners have controlled the parliament for the past two decades — with chants of “Death to America” often heard while in session.

Under Iranian law, the parliament has a variety of roles, including overseeing the executive branch and voting on treaties. In practice, absolute power in Iran rests with its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Friday’s election was the first since the bloody crackdown on the 2022 nationwide protests that followed the death of Mahsa Amini in police custody.

Amini, 22, died on Sept. 16, 2022, after her arrest by Iran’s morality police for allegedly violating the country’s strict headscarf law forcing women to cover their hair and entire bodies.

The protests quickly escalated into calls to overthrow Iran’s clerical rulers. In the severe clampdown that followed, over 500 people were killed and nearly 20,000 arrested, according to human rights activists in Iran.