Tehran: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's sister failed to win a parliamentary seat in their hometown as the early election results showed a lead for opponents of the Iranian president, state media reported.

Parvin Ahmadinejad, a member of Tehran's city council, lost her race in Garmsar, southeast of the capital, the state-run Mehr news agency reported today. Early counts showed a lead for the United Principlist Front, the state-run Press TV news channel reported. The group, which includes current members of the parliament, has criticized Ahmadinejad's economic management.

Friday's parliamentary election was Iran's first contest since the disputed presidential race of 2009 that sparked mass protests. The opposition movement that challenged Ahmadinejad then was absent from this election, narrowing the range of candidates to those who favor strict adherence to the tenets of the country's Islamic Republic.

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had urged a high turnout for the ballot, calling for a show of unity against external pressure and threats. The vote took place as the US and European Union apply growing pressure, with sanctions targeting Iran's oil sales and central bank, in a bid to halt what they say is Tehran's drive to build an atomic bomb.

Turnout was about 65 per cent nationwide and close to 45 per cent in Tehran, the state-run Fars news agency said Saturday. Polling stations closed at 11pm local time Friday after officials extended voting time by five hours, Press TV said.

About 48 million Iranians were eligible to cast ballots for more than 3,400 candidates cleared to compete by the Guardian Council, a body of jurists and clerics.