Bahrain is witnessing a transitional phase of its history with the upcoming parliamentary elections on November 22nd. Since the last round of elections in 2010 and the by-elections of 2011 due to the withdrawal of the opposition bloc Al-Wefaq from parliament, the country has gone through a series of measures to enhance the political situation and end the stalemate following the unrest of February 2011. As Bahrainis we must acknowledge that our political responsibilities as citizens can shape the future of our country more than ever.
With sectarian tensions, terrorism and arson on the rise, we as citizens should feel more responsible towards being a part of the political process in our country and join the elections despite our political affiliations and ideologies. We must join the November 22nd polls as responsible citizens despite the ongoing criticism of the previous parliament and our feeling that it hasn’t accomplished much (a major interpretation that was caused due to the failure of MPs to promote a number of their accomplishments to their constituents and the general public). The opposition societies announced their boycott of the elections ending with a statement by Ayatollah Shaikh Isa Qassim the leading figure of Al-Wefaq society and the Shia sect in Bahrain. EU Member States’ Ambassadors of Italy, France, Germany and the United Kingdom to Bahrain issued a statement urging the opposition to reconsider their boycott.
A point to take into account while thinking of boycotting the elections is that a number of legislative ammendments were made giving the elected house of parliament more power and the recent change in electoral constituencies is also considered a breakthrough and an issue that was continuously a matter of concern to the opposition, however the opposition still decided to boycott the elections without giving any credit to the commendable steps taken to end the crisis in the country. Hence the elections are vital for shaping our future and the boycott does not serve any segment of the society. Below are a few reasons why Bahrainis should not boycott the elections:
- – Being a part of the political process is important to enhance the level of freedom in the country.
- – We have to take the right decision and vote for the candidate who is most suitable to represent our voices (if our choice of candidate doesn’t make it to parliament that doesn’t mean that the winning candidate will not serve our constituency)
- – If we boycott we will be giving up a major right provided to us for being a part of decision making and forming legislations that would serve our nation.
- – A perfect parliamentary system does not exist and every parliament would have its flaws but this is how democracy works.
- – We should vote for the right candidates who would help in ending violence and combat the rise of sectarianism.
- – Given the current political conditions in the region, voting for the right person can help limit the growth of extremism in our country and hence preventing Bahrain from turning into another Iraq.
- – Our participation as voters and success of the elections will prove that radical elements of our society are not in control of our future.
- – We should vote and believe that a fruitful dialogue and reconciliation process can be achieved through parliament.
- – Recent reforms should be put into examination and therefore as citizens we will be able to know whether these reforms are credible.
- – We should join the elections despite our political differences and end up with a diverse parliament that can represent different voices since diversity has proven to stabilize many societies and nations.
Due to the above, we should take a firm stance in fighting radicalism and work together towards further reforms through the next parliament. We should be a part of decision-making in order to be able to create change and attain stability while sidelining the extremist voices that have caused the greatest damage to the history of our nation.