No room for reformers in Iran elections

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei casts a ballot in Tehran on March 2, 2012, in a parliamentary election.
AP

(CBS News) In Iran, the votes are still being counted from Friday's parliamentary elections. As CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports from Tehran, it was a battle between two political extremes, with no place for would-be reformers.

Iran's parliamentary election was a contest between one faction of hard-line conservatives backed by Iran's Supreme Leader and another backed by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

It wasn't a radical choice, but some voters were perfectly happy with it.

But others -- disgusted that hundreds of reform candidates were disqualified from running -- stayed well away.

Iran's leaders needed a strong showing to legitimize their anti-Western policies and apparently got it.

Although it's almost impossible to verify, the regime says that the turnout was high -- over 60 percent of eligible voters in Iran cast a ballot.

On the northern edge of Tehran, where a cable car runs up to the local ski hill. the middle class comes to hike and ski.

In past elections many of these people -- disenchanted with their leaders -- would have stayed well away from any elections.But this time - with Israel's talking about a military strike, and harsh US sanctions starting to bite -some said it was different.

"When there are pressures from outside," said Mohammed Reza, "we have to come together, even if we are against the government ."

Resolution with the West -- through negotiation and compromise to the dangerous standoff over Iran's nuclear program -- looked remote before this election. Now with religious hardliners set to dominate the new parliament, it looks virtually impossible.

Video: Iran election: Hardliners faring very well
Video: Iran hopes election will legitimize Western stance

  • Elizabeth Palmer

    Elizabeth Palmer has been a CBS News correspondent since August 2000. She has been based in London since late 2003, after having been based in Moscow (2000-03). Palmer reports primarily for the "CBS Evening News."