Counting starts in Iranian elections with country’s future in balance

The counting of  tens of millions of votes  began on Saturday after hotly contested Iranian elections that could see reformists speed up Tehran’s opening to the world or long-dominant hardliners reassert the Islamic Republic’s traditional anti-Westernism.The elections are the first since Tehran agreed with major powers to curb its nuclear program, leading to the removal of most of the stringent international sanctions that have paralysed the economy over the past decade.
A clear outcome may take days to emerge, although conservatives normally perform well in rural areas and young urbanites are seen as favouring more moderate candidates allied to President Hassan Rouhani.
The contest is seen by some analysts as a make-or-break moment that could shape the future for the next generation, in a country where nearly 60% of the 80 million population is under 30.
Participation appeared enthusiastic and relaxed in the first polls since a nuclear deal last year led to a lifting of sanctions and deeper diplomatic engagement abroad. There were long queues at polling stations in the capital, and state television said voting booths in many other cities were still packed with people in mid evening on Friday.

Source: smh