Iran elections: Is this the start of a quiet and peaceful revolution?

There have been the beginnings of a quiet, peaceful revolution in the land of the Islamic Republic.

Sounds like quite a statement doesn’t it? Well, consider the facts as we have them this morning.

Before the polls finally closed on Friday evening in Iran’s parliamentary elections (after they had to be extended five times, by the way, due to massive turnout), moderate reformist politicians were a minority in every sense of the word in Iran’s political machinery.

This is no longer the case.

As the results come in, many Iranians are hoping for a change in relations with the West.

The parliament was dominated by conservatives, as was the hugely influential Assembly of Experts which will have a huge say in who the next Supreme Leader of Iran will be.

This is no small thing.

The Supreme Leader, currently Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, is the ultimate political decision maker in both foreign and domestic politics.

Only in the government of President Rouhani did reformists have a voice.

He took power vowing to try to begin a new opening with the international community.

Timing was on his side.

President Obama made reaching a landmark nuclear deal with Iran a priority.

The country was exhausted and frustrated after eight disastrous years of foreign policy under controversial President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the catastrophe of western policy in Syria meant that Iran’s influence there could not be ignored.

Iran had fraught relations with the West under former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Credit: Reuters

Rouhani achieved the nuclear deal. But he and reformists wanted to push Iran further – to break the near 40 years of isolation and make such change deep and permanent.

Advancing their influence in parliament would be fundamental in this. And today, three days after the polls closed?

According to official results so far; reformists have taken all, yes all, of the 30 seats in the capital Tehran.

In the influential Assembly of Experts they have won 15 of the 16 seats in the body that will select the next Supreme Leader.

In fact Ayatollah Jannati, one of the most powerful conservative clerics in Iran and the closest ally to the Supreme Leader only just managed to retain his place in the Assembly – getting the last and only place in the Assembly.

Iran's Supreme Leader casts his vote in the elections. Credit: Reuters

There is still a long way to go in the rest of the country – and undoubtedly conservatives will retain a lot of seats in provincial districts of Iran.

But so will independent candidates, and a combination of independents and reformists will be a strong counter balance to the conservatives.

It means Rouhani will have a much more supportive parliament with which to continue this quiet, peaceful but profound revolution in Iran’s relations with the outside world.