The supreme leader was one of the first to cast his vote and said afterwards: ‘You see how those who are against the Iranian nation and the revolution are trying so hard to prevent people from going to the polls. I do not think these enthusiastic young people will be prevented from fulfilling their duty.’

Many observers expect the turn-out to be well below the 67 per cent which took part in the 2000 elections. The highest participation rate came in 1996 when 71.1 per cent of the electorate voted. Conservatives are expected to take control of parliament after the main reform party, Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF), withdrew from the race in protest at the Guardian Council ban.

Voting began at about 08:00 local time and will end at 18:00. The first results are expected 24 hours later, with a definitive tally coming after several days.