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Iran elections: The most important ever, says Khamenei

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"There is no energy in the air about this election at all," says a Tehran resident who could not be named. "The turnout numbers are predetermined, and no matter how many show up, they will declare 65 percent."

But the primary purpose of the vote, says this resident, is that Khamenei is "going to uproot [President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's] dynasty, which he helped create."

Khamenei vs. Ahmadinejad

In the 2009 elections, Khamenei endorsed Mr. Ahmadinejad's reelection as a "divine assessment." But since then Iran's political space has shifted to the far right, marked by vicious political infighting among conservatives and a power struggle between the supreme leader and Iran's divisive president.

A host of conservative factions are fielding candidates, but a number of those linked to Ahmadinejad have sought to hide their loyalty to the controversial president. Uneasy conservative opponents have charged his closest advisers with sorcery and leading a "deviant current."

After simmering for years, the tussle between Khamenei and Ahmadinejad unfolded very publicly in April 2011 over who would be minister of Intelligence. Khamenei – whose decisions are meant to have divine writ – overruled Ahmadinejad, prompting a 10-day sulk by the president.

Ahmadinejad's term ends in just over a year, so the results tomorrow will shape Iran's political future.

Khamenei's faction is "worried that Ahmadinejad and his supporters will steal the elections, because they control the Ministry of Interior, [which] supervises and counts the vote," says Sahimi. "If Ahmadinejad somehow manages to get control of parliament, then we are going to see a lot of tension in the country."

Iran's big push for high turnout

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