PHOTO: Daughter helps her mother cast a ballot in Friday’s elections
UPDATE 1755 GMT: Preliminary results indicate the centrist-reformist is winning a big victory in Tehran, winning 29 of the 30 Parliamentary seats.
Mohammad Reza Aref, a reformist candidate for President in 2013, leads the count. The prominent “maverick” conservative Ali Motahari is second, and Alireza Mahjoub, the Secretary-General of the House of Workers is third.
Reformist MP Soheila Jelodarzadeh and Elias Hazrati are 4th and 5th, while Kazem Jalali, an ally of Speaker of Parlaiment Ali Larijani, holds the 6th spot.
The only person outside the centrist-reformist list who would sit in Parliament is the head of the leading conservative bloc in the elections, Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, a former Speaker and member of the Supreme Leader’s inner circle. He is 7th in the preliminary count.
UPDATE 1505 GMT: Former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was accused by opponents of “sedition” in the run-up to Friday’s vote, has called for reconciliation.
Rafsanjani said that controversial issues should now be set aside and there should be coordination to build the country.
The Guardian Council’s mass purge of candidates for the Assembly of Experts ensured that Rafsanjani could not regain the chair of the body, possibly shaping its choice of a successor to the Supreme Leader.
The former President has been under pressure since the disputed 2009 Presidential election, when he defended the right to protest amid mass demonstrations.
UPDATE 1500 GMT: Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli said the turnout in Friday’s elections was more than 60%.
Fazli said 70 million ballots were cast between the votes for the Assembly of Experts and for Parliament.
Iran has about 55 million registered voters.
UPDATE 0900 GMT: Far News, the outlet of the Revolutionary Guards, is claiming an initial count of elected MPs that points to a conservative majority, but with an increased representation of centrists and reformists.
Fars claims that, of the 290 seats, more than half — 149 — have been filled. Conservatives have 94, centrists and reformists 50, and independents 15.
UPDATE 0800 GMT: In the Assembly of Experts count in Tehran, former President Hashemi Rafsanjani and President Rouhani are leading. The leader of the hardline Endurance Front, Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, is in 16th place and in danger of losing his seat.
ORIGINAL POST: Counting has begun in Iran’s elections for Parliament and the Assembly of Experts, the body which chooses the Supreme Leader.
First results are expected sometime on Saturday, but the outcome from Tehran will not be known until Sunday or Monday.
The Interior Ministry said the count for the Assembly of Experts, which has already effectively been fixed by the Guardian Council in favor of conservatives, will be first. The tally for Parliament — where centrists and reformists may be able to counter the Council’s mass disqualifications to make gains — will follow.
Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani-Fazli said turnout was estimated to be about 70% on Friday. A Guardian Council statement at 9 p.m., just under three hours before voting ends, said 28 million of 55 million registered Iranians (about 51%) had participated.
The close of polling was extended five times beyond 6 p.m., with ballot boxes finally shut at 11:45 p.m.
The Guardian Council blocked 80% of 801 candidates for the 88-member Assembly, including many centrists — linked to President Rouhani and former President Hashemi Rafsanjani — and reformists. That should ensure that Rafsanjani, who led the Assembly from 2007 to 2011, does not regain the chair.
The Assembly has an eight-year term. If the Supreme Leader, 76, dies during that period, the Assembly will name his replacement.
Rafsanjani has proposed that the Supreme Leader be replaced by a Council with a fixed term.
The Guardian Council banned about half of the initial 12,000 applicants for the 290-seat Parliament, including almost all reformists. The remaining 90 reformists have allied with centrists, a few “maverick” conservatives, and independents in joint lists across the country.
The reported high turnout in Tehran and among middle-class Iranians may favor the centrist-reformist lists.