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The BBC's John Simpson in Iran
Voters' expectations have been raised and politicians will be expected to deliver
 real 28k

Diplomatic correspondent Barnaby Mason
"West European countries are hoping for a further warming of relations with Iran"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 22 February, 2000, 08:18 GMT
Iran vote welcomed

Tehran billboard with election flyers
The reformists have received international support

International leaders have given a positive reaction to the reformist victory in Iran's parliamentary elections.

The US, the European Union and Russia all welcomed the result, in which supporters of reformist President Khatami swept aside the Iranian old guard of hardline conservatives.

We very much welcome the strengthening of the democratic process in Iran.
US State Department
With some results still to be announced it was already clear that the reformers had scored a decisive victory.

They are on course to take control of the 290-seat parliament, or Majlis, for the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

So far, they have won 137 seats with the conservatives taking 44 and independents securing about 50.

In Tehran, pro-reform candidates - leading in 28 of 30 seats - are expecting to complete a clean sweep of the country's major urban areas.

About 60 seats will be decided in a run-off vote.

The reformist victory clears the way for President Khatami to start enacting reforms held up by the outgoing, conservative-dominated chamber.

Foreign praise

As the extent of the victory became clear, governments from around the world expressed support for the new regime.

The US welcomed the moderates' strong showing, saying the Iranian people had shown they wanted "openness and engagement".

Tehran results Recording the results in Tehran
State Department spokesman James Foley said: "We very much welcome the strengthening of the democratic process in Iran.

"The reform movement has done well. Certainly the enthusiasm of the Iranian people is a sign of the growing strength of democracy in Iran."

Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama, speaking on behalf of the EU, said: "There is still a long road ahead in Iran, but the signals sent by Iranian voters clearly justify the reform path."

Russia said it hoped the result would promote democracy in the country while Israel issued a cautious welcome.

Turkey expressed the hope that the result would end efforts to export the Iranian revolution to other Islamic countries.

The UK has announced that Foreign Secretary Robin Cook is to visit Iran in May. He said the result was "a clear signal of the Iranian people's interest in modernisation".

Hardline influence

Despite the reformists success at the polls, hardliners will remain in key posts. The supreme leader is also a conservative.

Their influence will still be felt as President Khatami presses forward with his reform programme.

President Khatami President Khatami: Time for a smile
It is expected the new parliament will be asked to change the laws on elections, the press and the judiciary system.

The election triumph of the reform movement will have an impact on the entire Gulf region, the United Arab Emirates' newspaper Al-Bayan said.

"The Gulf countries, more than any other party, must carry out a serious and objective analysis of the changes taking place in the structure of the political system of their large neighbour," it said.

Al-Bayan hoped "the latest developments in Iran will lead to stronger relations between Iran and the Gulf Arab countries, and a settlement through peaceful means of unresolved questions between the two sides".
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Full coverage of Iran's landmark elections and the battle for reform

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See also:
21 Feb 00 |  Media reports
Print media triumphs in Iranian elections
21 Feb 00 |  Middle East
Reformist prisoner released on leave
21 Feb 00 |  Middle East
Analysis: Obstacles to change
21 Feb 00 |  Middle East
Iran's hardliners at crossroads

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