(Bloomberg) -- Hard-liners consolidated control over Iran’s parliament in elections that saw voter turnout fall to record lows.

Only 41% of eligible voters participated in Friday’s poll, down from 42% in 2020, the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported. That reflects growing political apathy among Iranians after a crackdown on anti-regime protests in 2022 and worsening living conditions under Western sanctions, with inflation officially near 40% and the currency dropping heavily in recent months.

In the capital Tehran, turnout was estimated at just 24%, other Iranian media reported.

All candidates required approval from an unelected vetting body, called the Guardian Council, and voting was extended multiple times on Friday in a bid to boost participation.

While candidates focused largely on domestic issues, having an even more conservative legislative will probably decrease the chances of closer engagement with the US and its allies.

Officials had framed the election as means to send a message of strength to Washington amid rising tensions since the war between Israel and Hamas, a militant group backed by Iran, erupted in October.

The conflict’s roiled the region and led to other Iran-supported groups, including the Houthis in Yemen and Shiite militias in Iran, attack US bases and commercial ships in the Red Sea.

In Iran’s vote, conservative candidates similarly won the bulk of seats in a parallel poll for the Assembly of Experts, the body of 88 that will choose a successor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

“The government has chosen control over legitimacy this time around,” Sorana Parvulescu, partner at consultancy Control Risks, told Bloomberg TV.

President Ebrahim Raisi, touted as a possible future supreme leader, was re-elected to the assembly while his predecessor Hassan Rouhani, who finalized the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, was disqualified from defending his seat.

Besides setting laws, the parliament’s key functions include approving the government’s budget and international contracts. All new legislation has to be approved by the Guardian Council, half of whose members are directly appointed by the supreme leader.

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