Concerns about women’s enthusiasm for municipal elections as registration opens

September 21, 2010

Men set to dominate again Bahrain's municipal elections

Concerns about the lack of interest among Bahraini women in the municipal elections was confirmed when only two women applied to run in the elections next month.

The two women, both from Muharraq Governorate, were among the 83 people who filed papers on the first day of the five-day registration process that opened on Monday evening.

The 48 independent candidates outnumbered the 35 society-backed hopefuls, confirming a trend that took roots four years ago and was confirmed last week at the registration of candidates vying for seats in the lower chamber of the bicameral parliament.

None of the five political societies that fielded municipal candidates endorsed a woman, a decision that is likely to widen the gap between rights activists and political formations. The non-endorsement of women by the major societies will also dent female candidates’ enthusiasm in getting politically involved and assuming roles in the election process.

Al Wefaq, Bahrain’s largest political society, fielded 17 candidates in three of the five constituencies, leaving the Muharraq and Southern governorates for other societies and independent election hopefuls.

Seven of Al Wefaq’s candidates will be running in the Northern Governorate, seen as a strong fief of the society.

Al Asala, the umbrella for Salafis, had eight candidates, two more than the Islamic Menbar, the offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. Al Asala is the only society to have candidates in all five governorates.

Muharraq has expectedly led in the number of candidates with 22, ahead of the Central Governorate and the Capital Governorate with 19 and 17 respectively. The Northern Governorate had 14 candidates and the Southern Governorate, the least populated, had 11. Muharraq is considered as Bahrain’s most politicized governorate.

One applicant was rejected after he failed a test in Arabic mandated by the judge supervising the registration centre.

The short test to asses the candidate’s aptitude to read and write Arabic was conducted after officers noted that he had problems holding a conversation with them in Arabic.

Under Bahrain elections laws, a candidate for either parliamentary or municipal elections must be able to speak and read Arabic.

Unlike in most Arab countries, foreigners who own property in Bahrain are allowed to elect their municipal councilors.







About the author

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

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