Vote counting under way in Iran’s parliamentary runoff

Second round of parliamentary elections will determine outcome of 68 undecided seats, with reformists eyeing gains.

Counting has begun to decide the outcome of 68 seats being contested in the second round of the Iranian parliamentary elections, according to local news outlets.

Friday’s vote was held in constituencies where no candidate managed to get more than 25 percent of ballots cast in the first round held in February.

The Iranian Students News Agency said officials were now working on collecting ballots and aimed to finish the count by Saturday morning.

President Hassan Rouhani’s reformists are hoping to build on gains made in the earlier vote, which saw them pick up significantly more seats but fail to secure a majority in the 290-member assembly.

Candidates backed by Rouhani won all 30 seats in the first round of the elections. The winners of the second round will be announced on Sunday and parliament will hold its first session on May 27.

While parliament is not involved in making major decisions, having its backing will embolden Rouhani’s policy of rapproachment with the West in order to ease sanctions.

Sanctions were lifted in January in exchange for curbing Iran’s nuclear programme under a deal reached with major powers in 2015.

Hardliners oppose the warming of ties with Western countries and any foreign attempts to restrict Tehran’s nuclear activities.

A moderate-dominated parliament also can influence the re-election of Rouhani as president in 2017.

Source: Al Jazeera And Agencies.

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