Mar. 2 - Iranians vote in a parliamentary election likely to reflect a deepening power struggle between political and religious hardliners. Paul Chapman reports.
PLEASE NOTE: EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei votes in an election widely expected to underscore a deepening power struggle between the hardline religious and political. The parliamentary election is expected to reinforce the power of Khamenei's clerical establishment over that of his political rivals led by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Observers say the President and his allies are trying to undermine the clergy's central role. The two fell out after the disputed 2009 election that sparked a firestorm of protests. This poll is a straight showdown between the two sides. Pro-reform parties are staying out of it. They say the election isn't properly free or fair. The outcome of the polls won't have much effect on Iran's disputed nuclear programme, or international relations. They're already controlled by Khamenei. But what happens now could have an impact on next year's presidential polls Ahmadinejad can't stand again but may have hoped for the election of a protege. That would need a revival of his flagging political fortunes which have been battered by his handling of the economy. With Iran's increasing international isolation, western sanctions and threat of attack from Israel all sides want a big turnout in these polls to bolster their legitimacy. Paul Chapman, Reuters