Millions of Iranians vote in high-stake elections which could shift the balance of power within the hardline-controlled Islamic elite by ushering in a reformist comeback. Kirsty Basset reports.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei casts his vote in the country's first election since last year's nuclear deal with world powers. The vote will decide the makeup of the parliament and Assembly of Experts, which technically has the power to appoint and dismiss him. The outcome will also determine whether Iran continues to emerge from diplomatic and economic isolation after long-lasting sanctions. That may be why some analysts are calling it a make or break contest. Millions are keen to have their voice heard, with long queues forming at polling stations in the capital, Tehran, and beyond. They'll choose between pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani, who championed the nuclear deal and is likely to seek a second presidential term next year, and conservatives deeply opposed to easing strained relations with Western powers. Jan Randolph is from IHS Global Insight. (SOUNDBITE) (English) IHS GLOBAL INSIGHT'S DIRECTOR OF SOVEREIGN RISK, JAN RANDOLPH, SAYING: "The reformers are going to have a difficult task trying to increase their minority in the parliament but if they do, it could mean that it makes it difficult for the hardliners." For some voters though, it's all about the economy. (SOUNDBITE) (Farsi) TEHRAN RESIDENT, NASER KARIMZADEH SAYING: "The most important issue is economic prosperity. Now society really needs jobs, unemployment is so rampant, because I feel it, I see it." Counting starts on Friday night.