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Saturday, 26 February, 2000, 19:16 GMT
Iranian media reviews election results

Tehran street
Iranians in the street have been mulling over the election results


Iran - and its media - has woken up to a new reformist parliament amid praise for the democratic system, conservative criticism and questions about the integrity of former President Rafsanjani.

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has hailed a new dawn of freedom and democracy.

"The Iranian nation is experiencing a more advanced kind of democratic rule," Iranian radio quoted him as saying.

"The Islamic revolution is introducing an Islam in which the people enjoy freedom; they enjoy Islamic justice and honour."

The reformist Kayhan newspaper expressed similar sentiments in an editorial published before the final results were released.

"The results of the sixth Majlis elections have demonstrated ... that the Islamic Republic of Iran is the most, or one of the most, democratic systems of government in the world," it said.

"The outcome of the elections has shown that in this system it is the will of the people which determines the process of the decision making in Iran."

Arguments over turnout

Kayhan said that the high turnout had demonstrated popular disapproval of the status quo.

"The presence of such a huge number of voters on the scene proves that whenever the people feel unhappy with some decisions, or whenever they feel like effecting changes in the decision-making process, all they have to do is make use of the lawful means available to them.

"So, the Islamic system provides the necessary means for change within its own polity and through lawful means."

Not all Iranian commentators were so enthused by voter activity. A conservative editorial in the newspaper Jomhuri-ye Eslami pointed to a number of distortions in the way the outcome was presented.

"True figures show that the number of voters going to the polls in the sixth elections was not only not higher than the figure registered for the fifth Majlis elections, but, in fact, there has been a reduction," it said, adding that the Interior Ministry had falsely raised the turnout figure by 6m.

Elections 'polluted'

"The fact is that the sixth Majlis elections were held in a polluted and unhealthy environment," the editorial went on.

"The election environment was polluted by the revisionist press who used the weapon of mass misinformation; they were helped by another weapon - rumour-mongering, which was effectively put to use by the revisionist gang.

"And the objective was to wreak ambiguity and confusion. They wanted to confuse the electorate's minds about the system's experienced and competent figures - figures who had already proven their worth to the revolution and the people."

Powerful force

One conservative figure took a more upbeat attitude and was more accepting of the results.

Morteza Nabavi, the majority leader in the outgoing parliament, told Iran Daily that his group would remain a powerful force and co-operate with the new majority.

"The Followers of the Imam and the Leader ... won some 35% of the votes," he said.

"They will be a significant force in the new parliament ... We feel that a Muslim is obliged to perform his or her duties, be it in the parliament or elsewhere.

"We respect public trust in those who won the race and hope that they manage to resolve people's problems and we will collaborate with them every way we can.

"We will also try to raise constructive criticisms when necessary."

Rafsanjani under fire

Former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani's near failure to be elected to the Tehran constituency provoked a mixed reaction.

A Fath newspaper report said that Mr Rafsanjani had received just 0.3% more votes than the candidate who came behind him, Ali Akbar Rahmani, and that there could have been vote-rigging in his favour.

Mr Rahmani would have come higher than Mr Rafsanjani had it not been for a handful of ballot boxes where votes for him were suspiciously absent, it said.

Most reformists sought to placate Mr Rafsanjani, however.

"Rafsanjani is one of the loyal followers of the Imam [Ayatollah Khomeini]," Soheila Jelodarzadeh, the only female member of the old parliament to be re-elected told Iran Daily.

"He is a respected figure. However, people's votes should be also respected.

"People proved that they want reform by the way they voted. This does not necessarily mean that they negate Rafsanjani.

"But they have chosen to criticise Rafsanjani by seeking changes."

BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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Full coverage of Iran's landmark elections and the battle for reform




See also:
21 Feb 00 |  Media reports
Print media triumphs in Iranian elections
22 Feb 00 |  Middle East
Iran vote welcomed
11 Feb 00 |  Middle East
Khatami urges reformist landslide
17 Feb 00 |  Media reports
Iran's 'violent political game'

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