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The mayor of Tehran has been re-elected in a vote seen as a victory for moderate conservatives in Iran and a sign of waning support for the country's hardline president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Mayor Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf is considered a likely rival to Mr Ahmadinejad in the 2009 presidential election. "This is an important event. It shows that conservatives are distancing themselves from radicals headed by Ahmadinejad," said Saeed Laylaz, an Iranian political analyst and columnist, yesterday. Mr Qalibaf is a conservative who backs the Islamic regime, but also a pragmatist who has stressed efficiency over hardline ideology in running Tehran. The mayor's re-election is regarded as a reflection of pragmatic conservatives' increasing discontent with Mr Ahmadinejad's harsh anti-Western rhetoric and his failure to improve Iran's weak economy. Tehran city council members were under tremendous pressure from the government not to vote for Mr Qalibaf, who won the backing of eight of the council's 15 members.
Ryan Lizza