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Jim Muir reports from Tehran
"Many things will change because of this election"
 real 28k

Saturday, 26 February, 2000, 11:00 GMT
Rafsanjani scrapes in

President Rafsanjani
Rafsanjani's election prompted allegations of vote-rigging

By Jim Muir in Tehran

After a week of counting, final results have been declared in the Iranian general elections.

The last results to be announced were from Tehran constituency, where 30 seats were being contested.

The election headquarters said all the seats were taken by reformist followers of President Mohammad Khatami except for one, which went to the former president Hashemi Rafsanjani. He finished last among the 30 qualifying candidates.

It took days to sort out the Tehran results. The problem was not just that there were a lot votes - more than three million to be counted by hand.

A political hot potato

The candidacy of former president Hashemi Rafsanjani was a scaldingly hot political potato.

President Khatami An overwhelming victory for Khatami and the reformists
He was the number one candidate on the electoral lists of all the right-wing factions, as well as having the support of a centrist group, which is an uneasy partner in the reformist coalition.

It soon emerged that he was a borderline case, trailing well to the back of the field of potential qualifiers.

So it was not surprising that allegations of vote-rigging surfaced almost immediately, levelled both by his opponents and by his supporters.

Limping into parliament

Behind the scenes, the divisions, evident in Iranian politics and the power structure, polarised in support of the two camps demanding recounts.

There are two parallel authorities in charge of the elections, one dependent on the interior ministry, which is under the influence of the reformists, the other reporting to the Council of Guardians, which is dominated by conservatives.

Tehran news stand The Tehran election result took days to sort out
These two bodies took up the contradictory complaints of their respective allies. But in the end, the headquarters announced that Mr Rafsanjani had won a seat, squeezing in as the last of the 30 successful candidates and only just clearing the qualifying threshold of 25% of the vote.

For the former president, this has been a humiliating experience, only slightly mitigated by his finally limping into parliament.

His chances of becoming speaker, a post he's held twice before, are very slight, given the majority enjoyed by the reformists who won all 29 of the remaining Tehran seats.

President Khatami's younger brother, Mohammad Reza Khatami, came in well ahead of the field.

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