Registration of candidates standing for election to Bahrain’s parliament starts Sunday

September 12, 2010
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Registration of candidates standing for election to Bahrain’s lower chamber is due to start on Sunday evening amid dwindling hopes of a high number of women getting involved in the quadrennial process.

Elections hopefuls have five days to register their names in one of the five election supervision bureaus, one for each governorate. Registration for the municipal elections will start on September 20.

Around 140 Bahrainis have said that they would contest in the parliamentary elections, with the independents outnumbering candidates nominated or supported by political societies. However, the number of women who said that they would run in the elections has been so far low and has not exceeded ten, compared with 23 in 2006.

Only one political society, Waad, the largest liberal formation in Bahrain, has nominated a woman, Muneera Fakhro.

Muneera, an academic, narrowly lost in the second round of the 2006 elections to her religious opponent in a closely contested election where campaigning between religious and liberal groups was the epitome of their public divergences.

The non-endorsement of any woman by the three main politico-religious societies, Al Wefaq, Al Asala and the Islamic Menbar, has seriously dented women candidates’ chances of winning despite the optimism expressed by some pro-women groups, observers said.

Al Wefaq, the largest society and the parliamentary bloc in the 2006-2010 parliament, said that it supported women, but was concerned about their chances of winning in any of the 17 constituencies it plans to field candidates.

Al Asala, the flagship of the Salafis in Bahrain, has regularly voiced its opposition to women participating in political activities.

The Islamic Menbar, like Al Wefaq, is worried about negative reactions from its conservative constituents.

The outgoing lower chamber had only one woman, Lateefa Al Gaood, who made history by becoming the first woman to get elected to a parliament in the Arabian Gulf, even though she had run opposed in the sixth constituency of the Southern Governorate.

Lateefa, a finance expert, last week said that she would be running again and in the absence, so far of a challenger, has a chance of getting re-elected for another quadrennial session.

According to election officials, 318,668 Bahrainis are eligible to vote in the parliamentary and municipal council elections on October 23 and October 30 for the second round in constituencies where no candidate received at least 50 % of the votes.

The Northern Governorate leads in the voting blocs with 107,057 voters, followed by the Central Governorate with 98,258, Muharraq Governorate with 57,233, Manama with 38,824 and the Southern Governorate with 17,295 voters.

However, Muharraq, the traditionally most politicized area in Bahrain, leads in the number of potential candidates with 45, of whom 25 are running independently. Two of its constituencies will feature at least nine candidates. Manama Governorate has, so far, the lowest number of candidates with only 18 people announcing that they would run.

         

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About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Career
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
Education
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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