TEHRAN (Reuters) - Early Iranian election results show pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani and top ally and former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani leading the race for membership of the Assembly of Experts, the official IRNA news agency reported on Saturday.
Friday's election for the 88-seat assembly, an influential body that has the task of choosing the country's highest authority, the supreme leader, was twinned with a vote for the 290-member parliament.
The elections were the first since a landmark nuclear deal last year that led to the removal of most of the sanctions that have damaged the economy over the past decade.
Supporters of Rouhani, who championed the nuclear deal, are pitted against hardliners close to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni, who are deeply wary of detente with Western countries.
In the capital Tehran, 13 out of the top 16 Assembly of Experts candidates were on a list supported by Rafsanjani, although some of them also had the support of conservatives.
There are 16 experts assembly seats representing Tehran out of a total of 88 seats nationally. The top three conservative candidates were also among the leading 16 in Tehran.
(Reporting by Samia Nakhoul, Editing by William Maclean and Paul Taylor)