Iran leader urges strong ‘message’ from elections

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Iran‘s interior ministry said voting was extended for four hours past the scheduled 6 p.m. (1430 GMT) deadline, state TV reported in a possible sign of high turnout. The TV also showed Hasan Khomeini, grandson of the late founder of Islamic Republic in 1979, casting his vote. He has close ties with reformers.

More than 48 million Iranians are eligible to vote at the nearly 47,000 polling stations across the nation. In 2008 and 2004, turnout for parliamentary elections were 57 percent and 51 percent, respectively. The semiofficial Fars news agency predicted turnout this year of more than 65 percent.

Ahmadinejad has made few public comments about the elections — perhaps because of his lightning rod status in Iran‘s internal political feuds. His sister, Parvin Ahmadinejad, is running for a seat in Garmsar, about 35 miles (60 kilometers) southeast of Tehran. She is currently a member of Tehran municipal council.

The splits over Ahmadinejad began last year after he dared to challenge Khamenei over the choice of intelligence chief and other policies. The ruling clerics answered back by arresting or purging dozens of Ahmadinejad’s political allies.

Mohsen Rezaei, a conservative rival of Ahmadinejad’s in the 2009 presidential elections, predicted that “no one will have a majority” in the next parliament.

Former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, also a Ahmadinejad rival, said — in an apparent allusion to accusations of vote tampering in 2009 — that a “good parliament” will emerge if the ballots are properly counted.

“God willing, the outcome of the elections will be what the people want,” he said.

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