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Hard-liners are reported to be in the lead in Tehran as the counting of votes progresses in Iran’s March 1 elections, according to Iranian state media. The turnout for the elections has been exceptionally low, with voter apathy and calls for a boycott by reformists contributing to the lackluster participation.

These elections mark the first since the widespread protests that erupted in September 2022 following the death of Mahsa Amini, a young woman who died while in police custody for an alleged dress-code violation. The results so far indicate that hard-liners are ahead in Tehran, with an alliance led by Hamid Rasaee winning seats and the conservative Mohammed Baqer Qalibaf securing a new seat.

Despite efforts by Iranian officials to encourage high voter turnout, unofficial accounts suggest that only 24 percent of eligible voters in Tehran cast their ballots. The official survey had predicted a turnout of 41 percent, which would still be the lowest since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Critics of the election, including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Narges Mohammadi and former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, boycotted the polls, labeling them as superficial and pre-determined. The apparent lack of transparency and meaningful choice in the election process has fueled growing dissatisfaction among Iranians.

With the Assembly of Experts also up for election, analysts believe that the outcome could have significant implications for the appointment of the next supreme leader, especially considering Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s age. However, concerns have been raised about the lack of diversity in candidates, as only those approved by the Guardian Council were allowed to run.

Many Iranians have expressed their disillusionment with the electoral process, believing that the elections are merely a formality to consolidate the power of hard-liners. The international community, including the United States, has also cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election results, highlighting the concerns raised by observers about the fairness and transparency of the process.

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