Ahmadinejad dealt a blow in parliamentary elections
The "Bat Guano Crazies vs. the Not Quite as Crazies" contest in the Iranian elections has dealt a blow to the Bat Guano Crazies led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The Not Quite as Crazies, loyal to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, appear to have triumphed. This could mean big trouble for Ahmadinejad who has become wildly unpopular as a result of high inflation and high unemployment.
Clerical Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has tightened his grip on Iran's faction-ridden politics after loyalists won over 75 percent of seats in parliamentary elections at the expense of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a near-complete count showed.
The widespread defeat of Ahmadinejad supporters - including his sister, Parvin Ahmadinejad - is expected to reduce the president to a lame duck after he sowed divisions by challenging the utmost authority of Khamenei in the governing hierarchy.
The outcome of Friday's vote, essentially a contest between conservative hardline factions with reformist leaders under house arrest, will have no big impact on Iranian foreign policy, notably its nuclear stand-off with the West. But it will boost Khamenei's influence in next year's presidential election.
With 90 percent of ballot boxes counted, Khamenei acolytes were expected to occupy more than three-quarters of the 290 seats in the Majlis (parliament), according to a list published by the interior ministry on Sunday.
In the race for the 30 seats in the capital Tehran, a Reuters tally of preliminary returns showed Khamenei supporters had taken 19 and pro-Ahmadinejad candidates the rest. Leading in popularity was Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel, a key ally of Khamenei and father-in-law to the paramount leader's son, Mojtaba.
Pro-Khamenei candidates won in the Shi'ite Muslim holy cities of Qom and Mashhad and led in other major provincial centers including Isfahan and Tabriz, where over 90 percent of voters backed Ahmadinejad in the 2009 parliamentary election.
It could mean more than the president being reduced to "lame duck status." There was a move afoot in the last parliament - blocked by his allies - to impeach Ahmadinejad which could gain some steam if the Supreme Leader wants to go that route.
Chances are he won't. Some kind of unity is necessary given the fact that in 6 months or less, Israel could decide to attack. Khamenei would want stability in government at such a dangerous moment and getting rid of the largest faction opposing him would only divide the country.