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The BBC's Jim Muir in Tehran
Economic powerhouse that has been a major force in Iran
 real 28k

Tuesday, 15 February, 2000, 15:52 GMT
Countdown to Iran elections

iran election leaflets Passers-by look at election leaflets in Tehran


Rallies have been taking place in Iran ahead of elections on Friday.

The poll is set to be a battle between reformists and conservatives within the country's clerical regime, with many observers predicting success for the reformists.

In a bid to forestall a victory for President Mohammad Khatami's supporters, Iran's conservative clerics have warned voters the country's Islamic values are in danger.

Pro-Khatami supporter A young pro-Khatami supporter
Newspapers close to the traditionalists, who dominate the outgoing parliament, have been painting a picture of moral decay among young people and women, the most avid supporters of the president's political and cultural liberalisation drive.

Fraternisation

The newspapers denounced fraternisation by male and female students, singing, dancing and immodest dress at reformist campaign rallies, and warned that old enemies were plotting to exploit Iran's growing freedom of expression.

Hardline Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi said in the daily Qods: "Liberals, monarchists and Marxists are still present in Iran. Although they are a minority, they are looking for an opportunity to fish in these troubled waters."

Iranian 2000 election
38.7 million people eligible to vote
There are 6,000 candidates
The candidates are contesting 290 seats in the first round
Those with 25% of the vote are elected in first round
President Khatami's landslide victory in 1997 opened up Iranian politics.

But his reform plans were often obstructed by the outgoing parliament, which impeached one of his key ministers and tried to do the same with another.

Campaigning

Campaigning was only allowed for a week leading up to Friday's elections and stops two days before polling.

Friday's vote is the first parliamentary contest in which political parties have vied for some 38.7 million votes.

Mohammad Khatami Iran ian President Mohammad Khatami looking for election success
Some 6,000 candidates are contesting the 290 seats in Friday's first round, with multiple-member constituencies in the main cities giving voters a bewildering array of choices.

Those who win 25% of the vote are elected on the first ballot.

Damage control

The key to the right's damage-control strategy is former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, backed by the centrist Executives of Construction party, which has several seats in Khatami's cabinet, and by most conservative groups.

Campaign rallies do not always go to plan.

In Jajrud, election hopefuls had to cancel campaign rallies after heavy snowfall left mountain towns and 30,000 people northeast of Tehran without electricity.

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See also:
11 Feb 00 |  Middle East
Khatami urges reformist landslide
30 Jan 00 |  Middle East
Poll test for Iran reformists
29 Jan 00 |  Middle East
Iran election short-list cut by 670

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