Reformers defeated in Iran vote

03 March 2003
Reformists suffered a serious defeat in Iran's local elections on 28 February, which was blamed on voter apathy and frustration with the slow pace of change. Conservatives are thought to have won 14 out of 15 seats on the Tehran city council, but turnout was put as low as 15 per cent in the capital and 39 per cent in the country as a whole. The chief pro-reform grouping, the Islamic Iran Participation Party, led by President Khatami's brother Mohammed Reza Khatami, had urged supporters to cast their votes, recognising that the poll was seen as a referendum on the president's reform policies. Reformers have triumphed in elections for the past six years. Analysts say that the result could intensify the conflict between reformists and conservatives, as the former see the result as a demand to accelerate reform and the latter interpret it as a show of support for their policies. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for 2004.

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