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Cablegate: Iranian Majles Elections--Partial Results in, but Runoffs

VZCZCXRO6227
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHKUK
DE RUEHDIR #0014/01 0761355
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P R 161355Z MAR 08
FM IRAN RPO DUBAI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0244
INFO RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHDIR/IRAN RPO DUBAI 0237

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 IRAN RPO DUBAI 000014

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

LONDON FOR GAYLE, BERLIN FOR PAETZOLD
BAKU FOR HAUGEN, ISTANBUL FOR ODLUM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: IR PGOV PREL
SUBJECT: IRANIAN MAJLES ELECTIONS--PARTIAL RESULTS IN, BUT RUNOFFS
ARE NECESSARY

REF: A. RPO DUBAI 0012; B. RPO DUBAI 0008; C. RPO DUBAI 0013; D RPO DUBAI 0010

RPO DUBAI 00000014 001.2 OF 002


1.(SBU) Summary: Partial Majles (parliament) elections results
from Tehran indicate that, as expected, conservatives dominated
the elections in that important constituency. In Tehran, 14 of
the 30 seats have been decided, and all of those seats have gone
to conservatives. However, it is difficult to delineate between
pro-Ahmadinejad hardliners and the president's conservative
critics. According to Iranian press, runoff elections will be
held in late April for the remaining 16 seats in Tehran, as well
as for seats in 17 other constituencies. Final elections
results for the entire Majles will not be available until after
the runoffs. The partial results also indicate that reformers
fared better than expected in provinces outside Tehran, however
they nonetheless remain a minority in parliament. Iranian press
have reported differing percentages of voter turnout, varying
between 60-65%, although an independent calculation of the
numbers reported suggest it could be as low as 52%. In the
concurrently-held Assembly of Experts by-elections, the
influential senior cleric Ayatollah Mahdavi-Kani was elected to
one of the Tehran seats on the Assembly. End summary.

Conservatives dominate Tehran -- based on partial results

--------------------------------------------- --------------

2.(SBU) According to the partial elections results for the
important Tehran constituency, conservatives dominated as
expected, but it was unclear how many of those conservatives are
supporters of President Ahmadinejad. The two main conservative
coalitions each put out electoral lists that served as voting
guides for the public (reftel A). One of the two main groups,
the United Front of Principle-ists (UFP), has been associated in
the press with President Ahmadinejad, but the UFP list also
includes some of his most vocal conservative critics, such as
current Majles speaker Haddad-Adel, deputy Majles speaker
Bahonar, and Majles Research Center head Tavakkoli, all of whom
were re-elected on Friday.

3.(SBU) The other major conservative coalition, the Broad and
Popular Coalition of Principle-ists (BPCP), was created by
former National Security Council Secretary Larijani, former IRGC
commander Rezaie, and Tehran mayor Qalibaf, all of whom ran
against Ahmadinejad in the 2005 presidential election.
Larijani, Rezaie, and Qalibaf are regarded as more traditional,
pragmatic conservatives. Although their views on nuclear and
foreign policy issues do not appear to differ greatly from the
established government policies, they have criticized
Ahmadinejad at times and indicate a greater willingness to
engage with the West and the international community (reftels B,
C). International press coverage of the elections has cast the
UFP list as pro-Ahmadinejad, and the BPCP list as his
conservative critics, however as noted earlier, the UFP list
features some prominent Ahmadinejad critics. To further muddy
the waters, the UFP and BPCP lists for the critical Tehran
constituency had nine candidates in common, making it difficult
to delineate between pro-Ahmadinejad hardliners and the
president's conservative critics.

Reformers gain seats in provinces

---------------------------------

4.(SBU) Reformers have reportedly fared better than expected,
according to the partial results. Reform groups are now
expected to gain some seats in the parliament, slightly
increasing their strength, although they remain a minority. In
the previous Majles reformers had 40 seats. The spokesman of
one of the main reformist coalitions was quoted by AFP March 16
saying that reformers were set to gain about 50 seats outside of
Tehran, and expected to pick up more seats in the runoff
elections for Tehran. Reformers were ultimately only able to
field candidates for around 100 of 290 Majles seats. Although
the ability of reformers to effect change in Iranian policy
remains minimal, the fact that they won over 50% of the seats
that they were able to compete for -- if reports are accurate --
would seem to indicate that the Iranian public is more
supportive of reformers than the government would like to
portray.

Runoffs scheduled for late April

--------------------------------

5.(U) According to Iranian press, because only 14 candidates in

RPO DUBAI 00000014 002.2 OF 002


Tehran received the required minimum 25% of the vote, runoff
elections will be held in late April for the remaining 16 seats
in Tehran, as well as for seats in 17 other constituencies
(Note: It is unclear from press reports how many open seats
remain in the other 17 constituencies. Endnote.) Final
elections results for the entire Majles will not be available
until after the runoffs.

Voter turnout estimates differ

------------------------------

6. (SBU) Iranian press has reported differing percentages of
voter turnout, varying between 60-65%, although independent
calculation of the numbers reported suggest it could be as low
as 52%. In differing reports in the Iranian press on March 15,
Interior Ministry figures of 65% voter turnout were cited, and
alternately Interior Minister Purmohammadi said that 60% of
eligible voters took part in the elections. However, the same
press report citing the 60% figure also gave the number of votes
as approximately 22.8 million, which when calculated represents
about 52% of the 44 million eligible voters in Iran. There was
no explanation in the press reports of the discrepancy.

Assembly of Experts by-elections

--------------------------------

7.(U) In the concurrently-held Assembly of Experts by-elections,
the influential senior cleric Ayatollah Mahdavi-Kani was elected
to one of the Tehran seats on the Assembly. See reftel D for
discussion of possible long-term significance for the position
of the Supreme Leader.
BURNS

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