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  • Iranians fill ballots during elections for Assembly of Experts, which has the power to appoint and dismiss the supreme leader, in Tehran Feb. 26, 2016.

    Iranians fill ballots during elections for Assembly of Experts, which has the power to appoint and dismiss the supreme leader, in Tehran Feb. 26, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

Published 26 February 2016

The election is seen as an opportunity for President Rouhani and his reformist allies to expand their power.

Polling stations closed in Iran late on Friday after voting was extended several times to let a large turnout of people cast ballots in elections for parliament and the Assembly of Experts, state TV reported.

It said polling stations closed at 11:45 p.m. local time, more than five hours after the scheduled closing time of 6 p.m.. Such extensions are common in Iranian elections.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei was among the first to cast his vote and called on Iranians to vote early.

"I suggest our nation to cast their votes early ... they should choose their candidates wisely ... a big turnout will disappoint Iran's enemies," Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said after casting his vote.

Under Iran's political system the 12-member Guardian Council, a group of clerics tied to the Supreme Leader, reviews the eligibility of candidates.

There are 6,200 candidates, including 586 women, competing for a place in Iran's 290-seat parliament, a far cry from the 12,000 people who registered but were disqualified by the Guardian Council.

Iranians will also choose representatives for the 88-member Assembly of Experts, a body tasked with reviewing the work of the Supreme Leader and in charge of selecting Khamenei's successor.

The Guardian Council was even more selective in this race, allowing only 161 candidates out of 800 applicants.

Both bodies are seen as being under the control of hard-liners.

RELATED: Reformists Confident of Victory in Iranian Elections

Reformists, who are seeking to win power within two of the country's most important political institutions, highlighted the high amount of disqualified candidates.

This election is the first since the implementation of a nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers that saw sanctions against Iran finally lifted.

President Rouhani championed last year's nuclear deal and is expected to seek a second presidential term next year.

WATCH: Dossier 02/11: Iran Marks the 37th Anniversary of its Revolution

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