Bahrain king lauds results of parliamentary polls

October 25, 2010
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http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/bahrain/bahrain-king-lauds-results-of-parliamentary-polls-1.701514

The success of Bahrain’s parliamentary and municipal elections is clear evidence that the country’s reforms are moving forward, King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa said.

“I congratulate all the elections winners and the voters on their commitment and sense of discipline,” King Hamad said.

“This is our national answer to those who had doubts on the continuity of our project – a project that we see as continuing unabated,” he said following the first round of the third parliamentary and municipal elections to be held since he assumed power in 1999.

Around 70 per cent of the Bahrainis registered to vote on Saturday cast their ballots in the 49 polling centres set up in the 39 constituencies and 10 general voting areas.

The lower chamber has 40 lawmakers, but five were assured of new terms after they faced no opposition.

In the municipal elections, two candidates were declared outright winners after their competitors pulled out of the race, leaving only 38 seats up for grabs.

The high participation turnout defied predictions made in the run-up to the polls that few Bahrainis would cast their ballots in the quadrennial elections amid concerns about security in Bahrain.

Bahrain’s officials have repeatedly ruled out any link between the elections and the arrest in August of suspects charged with plotting to undermine stability in the country.

The country’s top Shiite leaders have urged a massive participation in the elections, but insisted voters should elect candidates affiliated with a society over independent hopefuls who may not have real support at the lower chamber.

Ali Salman, the head of Al Wefaq, Bahrain’s largest society, said that voting was the best option to address issues.

Small groups that splintered from Al Wefaq in 2005 following irreconcilable divergences over the merit of the elections had called for the elections to be boycotted.

However, their messages seemed to have little impact. Separate, long lines of men and women were seen snaking into the schools-turned-polling-stations in most constituencies.

Bahrainis will now head to polling stations in nine constituencies on Saturday to elect the remaining nine lawmakers after none of the candidates achieved the 50 per cent of votes required to win.

Regardless of the outcome, the order of the power brokers in the 2010-2014 lower chamber will be changed following the dramatic slide of Al Asala, the second largest bloc, and the Islamic Menbar, the third largest bloc, in 2006 to 2010.

Al Wefaq, the largest bloc then with 17 lawmakers, has reinforced its status and gained one more seat after its 18 candidates carried their constituencies.

Independent lawmakers who numbered eight in the previous parliament will be at least 12, assuring them of being the second largest bloc, a status that could next month see them demand and acquire one of the leading positions in the lower chamber chairmanship.

         

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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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