Iran: parliament vote shows waning support for Ahmadinejad


An Iranian woman votes at a polling station in Tehran on March 2, 2012. Iran's 48 million voters are being called on to decide their next parliament today in elections whose turnout will be weighed to give an idea of support for the Islamic republic's regime.



Initial results from Iran's runoff elections show critics of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad solidifying their power in parliament, according to interior ministry figures cited by the country's state-run Press TV today. 

The parliamentary election was mainly seen as a competition between those loyal to Ahmadinejad and supporters of the powerful Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei as part of a growing rift in Iran's influential clerical establishment, said Reuters.

More from GlobalPost: Iran: What the parliamentary elections mean

Opponents of the controversial Iranian president won 41 seats, independents scored 11, and Ahmadinejad loyalists were left with only 13, said the Associated Press, citing state reports. 

Preliminary results show the pro-Khamenei United Principilist Front well ahead, reported the Guardian

Friday's vote saw 130 candidates competing for 65 seats in Iran's 290-member parliament, a largely symbolic body with little sway over policy issues but influence in domestic matters. 

Although Khamenei endorsed Ahmadinejad's 2009 presidential bid -- a disputed vote that led to mass riots and accusations of fraud from now-suppressed opposition leaders Mir-hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoubi -- relations have since devolved into a thinly-veiled struggle for power.  

The new parliament is likely to pose a challenge to Ahmadinejad, who will finish his second and final four-year presidential term in August 2013. 

He may see his favorites struck from key positions, according to AP, suggesting that it might complicate the president's controversial plans to cut key subsidies.