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Friday, 11 February, 2000, 15:48 GMT
Khatami urges reformist landslide

Election flyers in Tehran Election posters litter the streets of the capital, Tehran


By Jim Muir in Tehran

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has called on people to turn out in strength to vote in next week's general election.

Campaigning began on Thursday with more than 6,000 candidates competing for 290 seats.

A poster of the president Mr Khatami hopes the election will bolster his government
Mr Khatami was addressing hundreds of thousands of people who turned out in bright winter sunshine to take part in the final day of celebrations marking the 21st anniversary of the Islamic revolution.

He urged them to make next Friday's general elections a repeat of the massive turnout which gave him a surprise landslide victory in presidential elections nearly three years ago.

That way, he said, the world would know that the Iranian nation decided its own destiny.

Power struggle

He expressed the hope that people would elect candidates who would make up a new parliament committed to the people and to the development of society in all its aspects.

Cartoon image shows President Clinton bleeding Hardliners display a cartoon image of a bleeding President Clinton
If the government had such a parliament to work with, he said, it would be able to take more assured steps in working for the people.

Mr Khatami's current government, largely made up of like-minded reformists, has often run into obstruction from the outgoing Majlis, in which the balance of power favoured the conservatives.

A coalition of 18 reformist parties and groups is now hoping to change that by winning a majority and producing a parliament that would co-operate more effectively in carrying out Mr Khatami's plans for political, social and economic reform.

Many Iranian political analysts believe the conservatives will lose their control of the Majlis.

But the question is whether the reformists will gain an outright advantage on their own, or whether they will be dependent on support from the moderate centre faction loyal to the pragmatic former President, Hashami-Rafsanjani.

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Full coverage of Iran's landmark elections and the battle for reform
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See also:
10 Feb 00 |  Middle East
Reformists hopeful despite ban
09 Feb 00 |  Middle East
Khatami apologises to barred candidates
30 Jan 00 |  Middle East
Poll test for Iran reformists
02 Feb 00 |  Middle East
Democracy Iranian style

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