Candidates to start sign up for parliamentary by-elections

August 23, 2011

Bahrain begins on Monday the registration process for candidates planning to sign up for next month’s parliamentary by-elections.

Four posts were set up in the four governorates where by-elections will be held and will remain open in the evening until Wednesday, the end of the registration process for the voting to be held on September 24, the authorities said.

Around 180,000 Bahrainis are scheduled to cast their ballots to choose 18 new lawmakers who will replace the former MPs who represented Al Wefaq Islamic Society in the lower chamber before handing in their resignations in late February to protest against the way the authorities handled demonstrations.

Al Wefaq, the National Democratic Action Society “Waad”, the Progressive Democratic Tribune and the Pan-Arab Rally said that they would boycott the elections and called for better political contexts and a more representative lower chamber.

Islamist societies initially said that they would not take part in the polls to focus on regaining their strength following poor results in the parliamentary elections in October. However, they are now likely to either field candidates or to support those whom they deem to be “an additional value” to the country’s lower chamber.

The government on Sunday called for a big turnout for the by-elections, saying that a massive popular support would significantly boost the reform process.

Prime Minister Prince Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa, chairing the weekly session, encouraged all potential voters to participate effectively for the sake of democracy and to support reforms and boost popular participation in the management of state affairs.

However, the government stressed the significance of active participation in an atmosphere of freedom and transparency “away from any instigation or intimidation.”

Opposition societies in 2002 boycotted the parliamentary elections, the first to be held after a three-decade constitutional hiatus. The boycott resulted in a high number of independent candidates winning seats in the 40-member lower chamber.

However, in 2006, the societies reversed their stances and took part in the elections.

Al Wefaq with its 17 seats and Al Asala, the expression of Salafism, and the Islamic Menbar, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, with their 15 seats dominated the lower chamber. Their confrontations on and off the parliament floor often resulted in acid clashes alongside sectarian faults that were often deepened by overtly partisan media.

In October 2010, Al Wefaq won the 18 constituencies in which it fielded its candidates, all men, while Al Asala and the Islamic Menbar fared badly, lost most of their seats and advantages.

With the launch of protests on February 14, Al Wefaq took a strong stance and its 18 representatives eventually took a vote to decide on their future at the lower chamber. Despite arguments by some MPs to keep the seats and work from within, the outcome was the mass resignation.



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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