TEHRAN - Iran started counting tens of millions of votes on Saturday after hotly contested 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 twinned elections for parliament and a leadership body called the Assembly of Experts are seen by some analysts as a potential turning point that could shape the future for the next generation, in a country where nearly 60 percent of the 80 million population is under 30.
The elections are the first since Tehran agreed with major powers to curb its nuclear programme, leading to the removal of most of the stringent international sanctions that have paralyzed the economy over the past decade.
Turnout was heavy. Polling was extended five times for a total of almost six hours, because so many people wanted to vote.
No official results were released overnight, state television said in its morning news bulletin. The Interior Ministry published a statement saying no result would be valid before it was officially announced by the ministry.