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Iran Lawmakers Re-elect Their Conservative Leader, Ali Larijani

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A leading conservative was re-elected as speaker of Iran’s Parliament on Tuesday, denying reformists a post they thought they had earned with a big win in February elections.

In a mild surprise, an overwhelming majority of Iran’s lawmakers chose a conservative candidate, Ali Larijani, who has held the position since 2008. Mr. Larijani, 57, scion of a powerful Iranian family, is not considered a die-hard, having managed the Parliament’s approval last summer of the nuclear agreement with the Western powers.

Moreover, Mr. Larijani in recent years has supported the government of President Hassan Rouhani, a moderate who was elected on a promise of reaching a nuclear deal and loosening Iran’s severe restrictions on personal freedoms in the public sphere.

Of 276 lawmakers present in the 290-seat house, Mr. Larijani won 237 votes, Iranian state television reported.

Mr. Larijani’s election was something of a formality. His main reformist opponent, Mohammad Reza Aref — who served as first vice president from 2001 to 2005 under Mohammad Khatami, the liberal reformist president — withdrew from the race on Sunday, effectively assuring Mr. Larijani’s election.

The moderate wing did score a few victories.

Ali Motahhari, a moderate conservative and vocal critic of Iran’s leadership who has often called for the release of political prisoners, was elected deputy head of Parliament, IRNA, the state news agency, reported.

A reformist, Massoud Pezeshkian, was also elected a deputy head of Parliament.

Since the signing of the nuclear deal, leading figures in Iran’s dominant hard-line faction, including the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have taken pains to underscore how little they see the agreement as the watershed moment in Iran’s history that President Rouhani promised it would be.

Last week, for example, an unreconstructed conservative was elected chairman of the council that chooses the next supreme leader, the all-powerful leader of the country.

Members of the body, the Assembly of Experts, picked the new chairman, the 89-year-old cleric : Ahmad Jannati, even though he scraped together only the bare minimum number of votes needed to claim a place in Parliament in the Tehran constituency during the February vote.

THOMAS ERDBRINK

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