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Muharraq Governorate

 

Citizens for Bahrain’s elections data is the most comprehensive and detailed English language guide available on the Bahrain 2014 elections process.

 

Citizens for Bahrain’s elections guide profiles all 40 political constituencies and the 266 candidates still contesting. Around 300 candidates initially registered for participation in the parliamentary elections, however there have been a number of withdrawals during the course of the contest as well as a few candidates whose candidacy was subsequently disallowed.

 

The information is based on media reporting, official sources and material provided by the candidates themselves and is the best understanding of the situation as of 13 November. We will endeavor to update this guide as more information becomes available.

 

Please note that all predictions are no more than best guesses based on the information available. They reflect our interpretation of the facts, not our preferences.

 

The *asterisk indicates female candidates. Most candidates are independents, where candidates are affiliated with a political society, this is highlighted in red.

 

1st Muharraq

Areas covered: Busaiteen

Number of candidates: 9

Front-runners: Saadi Mohammed (Minbar), Ali Bufursan, Mohammed al-Hussaini

Worth watching: Ahmed al-Obaidli, Yahya al-Majdami

Outsiders: Ahmed Aqqab, Thani Rashidan, Ahmed Ashir, Mohammed al-Qalalif 

Withdrawn: Adel al-Moawdah (MP Asalah)

Likelihood of going to second round: 95% 

Housing blocks: 225, 226, 228, 229

Registered voters: 8,071

Will Minbar benefit from Moawdah’s shock withdrawal?

Voter demographic

Busaiteen is a proud and traditional Sunni locality on the northwest coast of Muharraq. Islamist parties have traditionally done well in this constituency. Voters will be looking for candidates who can vocally advocate their interests at a national level and support livelihoods, like the fishing industry.

Some pundits have cited the decline in support of Bahraini voters for established political groupings. One newspaper survey of local constituents discovered considerable frustration with the perceived performance of previous MPs, saying that there was a desire for candidates who could demonstrate that they sought “the public interest, not personal interests”. 

Candidate outline

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the elections so far was the sudden withdrawal of long-standing MP Adel al-Moawdah, who had held his seat since 2002. It was more of a surprise because, unlike other prominent MPs who announced at an earlier stage that they wouldn’t be standing – like Abdullah al-Dossary like and Khalifa al-Dhahrani – Al-Moawdah seemed to have been seriously contesting the vote, indeed his elections tent HQ was being erected just hours before his withdrawal was announced. The reasons for this decision at the time of writing are unclear, especially as many people saw Al-Moawdah as the favourite to win again. However Al-Moawdah told a crowded public meeting immediately after his withdrawal that this would allow him to “serve you from another location”.

In a hard-fought contest with nine strong candidates the main beneficiary of Al-Moawdah’s withdrawal may be Dr. Saadi Mohammed, the representative of pro-Muslim Brotherhood Al-Minbar al-Islami. Asalah and Minbar have coordinated their elections campaigns in the past, so it may be natural for many Asalah supporters to transfer their vote to Dr Saadi. Al-Moawdah was technically standing as an independent and he was no longer formally a member of Asalah, although it was understood that he still enjoyed Asalah’s tacit support.

Even though the reputation of pro-Muslim Brotherhood groups like Al-Minbar has suffered in the Arabian Gulf region in recent months, Minbar still is part of the influential loyalist Al-Fateh Coalition, which will be lobbying in support of Saadi Mohammed.

Looking to the independent candidates, Ali Bufursan has been one of the most active campaigners, with his campaign promises and statements appearing almost daily in the press. He and Ahmed Ashir were among the first in the district to open their campaign headquarters. 

Bufursan also hosted a large event on 10 November where municipal candidates were invited to set out their positions. This was a clever tactic, as all 14 municipal contestants turned up and spoke to a huge crowd, while Bufursan presided over the event and promoted his own candidacy.

Cleric Mohammed al-Hussaini is also worth watching for his strong local support base.

The toughness of this contest is reflected in the proliferation of campaign material and billboards around the area. This hard-fought contest will certainly go to a second round. It is difficult to imagine Al-Moawdah not getting through to the second round, so the question may be which one of his rivals joins him and who the remainder of the public unites behind.

Dr. Saadi Mohammed Abdullah Ali – Minbar 

Saadi – who represents Al-Minbar al-Islami Society – stressed his good relationship with his opponent Adel al-Moawdah, noting that there had been attempts for a unified candidacy, although Al-Moawdah is no longer a member of Al-Asalah.

Saadi told the media that the Al-Fateh Coalition (of which Minbar is a part) “contains numerous currents, Islamic, liberal and left-wing”, noting that there was a desire for Al-Fateh to form a coherent bloc in the coming Parliament. 

Dr. Saadi won a seat in the 2002-2006 Parliament, but lost to Adel al-Asoumi in 1st Capital in 2006. The fact that he is now contesting a Muharraq seat forced him to defend his local connections and support when challenged by the media. @Dr_Saadi_

Ali Isa Abdullah Ahmed Bufursan

Bufursan told Al-Watan newspaper that “people’s aspirations are focused on improving standards of living and the housing issue. They didn’t sense any important accomplishments from the previous Parliament in these matters”.

Bufursan has emphasized the “solutions” he possesses for improving healthcare facilities and for assisting those in society with special needs, such as the elderly, widows, orphans and the disabled. His slogan is “Together we can”.

Bufursan has highlighted the importance of support for agriculture and fishing. He complained that fishermen in the Busaiteen area lacked any kind of support, during comments to Al-Ayam.

Bufursan said he wanted to prioritize the issue of integrating young people into the jobs market, based on their merit and specializations, through supporting higher education and establishing mechanisms to facilitate job-seeking and recruitment.

On 6 November newspaper adverts and media reporting were promoting the opening of Bufursan’s electoral HQ. @alialbufersen

Ahmed Abdullah Yousif Aqqab

Aqqab submitted his registration at the last minute after withdrawing his application to contest as a municipal councilor and deciding to contest for Parliament. He stressed the importance of close ties with the local people and cited priority issues such as standards of living, wages, corruption and housing. Aqqab called for greater investment in sports.

Aqqab has called for the creation of a ministry for economic planning for promoting growth and coordinating efforts to promote the economy and encourage investment.

Dr. Ahmed Yousif Abdulrahman Abdullah al-Obaidli 

Dr Al-Obaidli – a human resources consultant – says he will prioritize educational issues. He advocates establishing institutes for vocational education and a general educational strategy for improving standards across Bahrain’s teaching institutions.

Dr. Mohammed Rafiq Qari Mohammed Saeed al-Hussaini 

Al-Hussaini is a local cleric. He is campaigning alongside the municipal candidate Mohammed al-Mudhhiki. 

Although Al-Hussaini has received little national media coverage, he is reputedly a very popular local figure and has been tipped as a strong contestant. @mral7usaini

Thani Atiq Thani Rashidan 

Rashidan stressed the need for greater attention given to Bahrain’s democratic reputation around the world, which he said would require close cooperation between the elected deputies.

Mohammed Abdullah Jassim Mubarak al-Qalalif

Al-Qalalif has stressed the values of citizenship and equality between Bahrainis. His campaign slogan is “Bahrain over us all and for us all”. He said that Bahrain’s priorities should be fighting terrorism and restoring security. He has been increasingly active through the social media.

On 11 November Qalalif expressed his annoyance with the local authorities which had taken down all his promotional material and forced him to move his HQ to a different location, particularly as he had already invited VIP guests to the public opening of his campaign HQ. @algallaf76

Ahmed Mohammed Abdullah Hassan Ashir

Campaign slogan: “Serving you can be safely borne upon my shoulders”. Ahmed Ashir was one of the first contestants to open his campaign HQ.

Yahya Ali Abbas Ali al-Majdami

Al-Majdami was defeated by Al-Moawdah in 2006, gaining just 382 votes (Al-Moawadah got 1506). 

2nd Muharraq

Areas covered: Muharraq central

Number of candidates: 9

Front-runners: Salim Rajab (NUG), Wahid al-Dossary 

Worth watching: Abdulrahman Bin-Zaiman, Khalid al-Hashim, Abdulmunim al-Eid 

Outsiders: Ibrahim al-Hamadi, Ahmed al-Jowder, Khalid Bu-Jiri, Mohammed al-Buainain

Likelihood of going to second round: 90% 

Housing blocks: 203, 205, 206, 209, 221, 222

Registered voters: 7,563

Can the NUG gain their first seat in Muharraq?

Voter demographic

This constituency lies in the densely-populated central town of Muharraq and in geographical size is one of the smallest constituencies in Bahrain. This area has tended to favour Sunni Islamist candidates.

Media surveys of voters (Al-Watan) have found voter priorities in this constituency to include housing, living standards, education and improving public infrastructure. 

Candidate outline

Alongside a representative for the Sunni-loyalist National Unity Gathering, Salim Rajab, there are numerous independent candidates in this constituency who in several cases say they are depending on a decline in support for political societies. These candidates are benefiting from the lack of a sitting MP in the district.

Sunni cleric Wahid al-Dossary is a prominent local figure who has experience in contesting previous rounds of elections and is closely affiliated with many local entities, so he can expect to perform well.

Abdulmunim al-Eid and Abdulrahman Bin-Ziman in early November were the first in the locality to open their campaign headquarters.

With many of these nine candidates possessing reasonable prospects to perform respectably in these elections and no obvious winner, it would seem a safe prediction that this race will go to a second round.

Salim Rajab Zayid Omar – NUG

Rajab argues that his National Unity Gathering list – which has never held parliamentary seats before – should be given a chance by the public. He said that other political societies had failed to capitalize on their parliamentary seats to improve the lives of citizens. @Salem1Omar

Abdulrahman Daeej Khalifa Saleh Bin-Zaiman 

Former headmaster Bin-Zaiman says he decided to compete after the withdrawal of the prominent candidate Ali Ahmed. He cites a particular interest in fighting corruption. It appears that Bin-Zaiman, a member of Al-Mithaq, had been touted to compete on a list as part of the Al-Fateh Coalition. However, he eventually registered as an independent.

Wahid Rashid Jassim al-Dossary 

Al-Dosary is a prominent cleric in his local Muharraq community. He recently chaired a seminar warning of the dangers of rumor-mongering during the election period. Al-Dossary has also recently been outspoken in condemning “terrorist attacks against government schools”. Al-Dossary stressed the importance of greater efforts by the authorities to crack down on “terrorism”. Al-Dossary is the honorary president of the Fishermen’s Society. Wahid contested the elections in 2006 and gained 499 votes in a crowded field with 11 contestants. He was comfortably beaten by Mahmoud al-Mahmoud in 2010, with Al-Dossary gaining 875 votes. @WAldosseri

Khalid Hashim Sulayman al-Jassim al-Hashim 

Al-Hashim says that he has promised local people that he will do all he can to promote reforms. Among his priorities, he mentioned housing, unemployment, care for children and the elderly and setting up facilities for young people. His candidacy slogan is “efforts, not promises”. 

Abdulmunim Mohammed Abdullah al-Eid 

Al-Eid says that he seeks a parliamentary role in order to help “promote Bahrain in all areas”, based on our “religious and national principles”. He has singled out the improvement of living standards and the housing crisis as among his priorities.

Al-Eid wants to work for a more unified Bahrain and noted his support for the Gulf Union proposal.

Ibrahim Jumah Ali Mohammed al-Hamadi

No media coverage so far.

Ahmed Hamid Rashid Hamed al-Jowder

No media coverage so far.

Khalid Ahmed Hamad Ali Bu-Jiri

No media coverage so far.

Mohammed Abdulaziz Mohammed Khalifa al-Buainain

Al-Buaynayn’s campaign has so far kept a low profile.

3rd Muharraq

Areas covered: Muharraq central, Qalali

Number of candidates: 10

Front-runners: Ahmed Al Binali (Wasat) Abdulnasir al-Mahmeed (Asalah), Mohammed al-Mutawwa 

Worth watching: Jamal Buhassan, Mohammed Murad, Adel Bu-Anq 

Outsiders: Mohammed Ahmedi, Yusuf al-Awadhi, Abdallah Saad, Abdulrahman Fakhro

Likelihood of going to second round: 95% 

Housing blocks: 202, 204, 208, 210, 223, 224, 227

Registered voters: 7,563

Al-Wasat takes on Al-Asalah in Qalali

Voter demographic

This is a staunchly loyalist area sprawling across the heart of Muharraq island. The district expanded as part of the 2014 boundary changes to take in two blocks from the 1st Muharraq constituency and parts of Qalali.

Candidate outline

The Secretary-General of the Al-Wasat Society – Ahmed Al Binali – is a prominent face in this contest. Al-Wasat froze their inclusion within the Al-Fateh Coalition during lengthy and tense negotiations prior to the elections in which Al-Fateh ultimately failed to put forward a unified electoral list. 

Ahmed Al Binali is up against several strong independent candidates and head of the Municipal Council Abdulnasir al-Mahmeed. Al-Mahmeed is a representative of the Salafist Al-Asalah Society, which from the outset refused to coordinate its election campaign with Al-Fateh. Long-time Municipal Councilor Mohammed al-Mutawwa is also seen as a strong contester, despite his early preference for competing in a neighbouring constituency. 

The decision of the Minbar MP Ali Ahmed not to contest this seat caused widespread surprise, but is perhaps an indicator of the wining regional fortunes of pro-Muslim Brotherhood groups. This campaign is almost guaranteed to progress to a second round.

Ahmed Sanad Khalifa  Al Binali – Al-Wasat Secretary-General

Ahmed Al Binali caused controversy when he “froze” membership of his society, Al-Wasat, to the Al-Fateh Coalition during the negotiations to try and adopt a unified list. Al Binali says that his society “aspires for the middle-ground and places the responsibility on the Bahraini citizen for choosing the best candidate, based on moderation”.

Al Binali noted that Al-Wasat’s relations with other members of the Al-Fateh Coalition remained strong; pointing out that Al-Fateh had not included an additional candidate to stand against him in 3rd Muharraq (Al-Asalah remains outside Al-Fateh). Al Binali told journalists he believed that he had a 50% chance of winning the vote. He has also warned about the phenomenon of “buying votes”. Al Binali came third place in 2006, with 721 votes.

Abdulnasir Yousif Abdullah al-Mahmeed – Asalah

Al-Mahmeed – who represents the Salafi Asalah Society – has served for two terms as a Muharraq municipal councilor. For the second term he was the head of the Municipal Council.

Al-Mahmeed has made housing his priority issue and is calling for an increase in the budget for construction, to increase the number of houses built through Government programmes to 7,000 per year. @nasser7000

Jamal Jassim Ali Buhassan

Buhassan in comments to Al-Ayam noted the poor performance of political societies in previous rounds of elections, stating his hope that he would perform well among other independents. His elections HQ is open to the public from 14 November.

Buhassan gained 667 votes in 2010, his Minbar opponent Ali Ahmed beat him with 983.

Mohammed Abdullah Ibrahim Jassim al-Mutawwa 

Al-Mutawwa – a municipal councilor for eight years – went to court after the constituency boundary changes were announced, with the intention of changing his address to the 1st Muharraq district. However, the court refused his petition, so he has been compelled to compete in 3rd Muharraq. This was the result of two housing blocs where Al-Mutawwa resides (227, 223) being transferred from 1st Muharraq to 3rd Muharraq as part of the constituency boundary changes.

Al-Mutawwa: “I observed shortcomings in the legislative process and also in the oversight of this work. Both processes require expertise and attention and greater public participation in issues which concern them”.

Al-Mutawwa: “I adopted the slogan ‘together’ (ma’an) for my campaign… we are participants in the whole process. The deputy and the voter are joined by a shared purpose”.

Al-Mutawwa has called for changing the 1976 housing law which he said would “solve the problem” because he said the housing crisis was a matter of “decisions not distribution, the land is there and the Khaleeji support is there”.

Mohammed Abdulhussain Hamad Murad

Businessman Murad stressed his commitment to encouraging greater public participation to encourage reform and progress, while avoiding sectarian divisions. In comments to Al-Watan, Murad emphasized the importance of strengthening public awareness about the role of parliamentary deputies, particularly in the area of drafting legislation and oversight of the work of government. @vote_murad

Adel Saleh Ahmed Bu-Anq 

Bu-Anq said Parliament should be a “mixture” between deputies representing the youth and those with greater experience. Bu-Anq listed his priorities as: “Involving the private sector in providing government services, implementing an effective mechanism for dealing with crises and disasters, improving the social situation of Bahrainis…”

Mohammed Mahmoud Ahmed Mohammed Ahmedi

Ahmedi has called for additional support for newly married couples and efforts to renovate houses in danger of collapse. He said that the issues he tackled were associated with his central aim of improving standards of living.

Abdulrahman Abdullah Ali Qassim Fakhro

Fakhro complained that there was no formal mechanism for judging the performance of MPs or holding them to account. He said that the readiness of candidates to forgo their parliamentary privileges was a measure of their seriousness about their parliamentary role and promised to reduce the remuneration of MPs if he reached Parliament.

Fakhro said that his election platform included “rebuilding the relationship between citizens and their representative and the Parliament; and foregoing parliamentary privileges”. @AA_fakhro

Yusuf Abdullah Ibrahim Khalifa al-Awadhi

Campaign slogan: “We don’t promise that we will achieve the impossible, but we desire to achieve a lot”.

Abdallah Mohammed Abdullah Saad

Still little sign of Abdullah Mohammed’s election campaign.

4th Muharraq

Areas covered: Muharraq central

Number of candidates: 7

Front-runners: Isa al-Kooheji (MP), Abdullah al-Aynati (NUG)

Worth watching: Hamad al-Mearaj, Rima Halal, Majid al-Atawi

Outsiders: Mohammed al-Murbati, Mohammed Khayami, 

Likelihood of going to second round: 65% 

Housing blocks: 207, 211, 212, 213, 214, 215, 216, 217

Registered voters: 7,904

Kooheji versus the NUG

Voter demographic

These urban areas of Muharraq island would be expected to favour an independent loyalist candidate. However a dense patchwork of local communities have to be taken into account; Hawala, Bahrani, Ajam and tribal Arabian. Thus, we find a slightly more cosmopolitan range of candidates than in other central parts of Muharraq, including the only female candidate in Muharraq, Rima Halal.

This is one of the oldest areas of Muharraq island and so contains historically important sites. There are many critical social issues needing addressing including poverty, unemployment and poor quality of some older housing.

Commentators have noted the difficult of predicting this contest because of the lack of a clear “political ideology” among this diverse community. Liberals, progressives, Salafists, Brotherhood supporters can all be found here.

Candidate outline

The prominent independent incumbent – Isa al-Kooheji – will have to fight off the National Unity Gathering representative, Ambassador Abdullah al-Aynati; and a number of independent rivals. Former colonel Hamad al-Mearaj is said to enjoy widespread local popularity.

Ambassador Al-Aynati has been waging a serious campaign, attaining more media coverage than his rivals and being the first to open his campaign headquarters in the district.

The other candidates would seem to have a long way to go to catch up with these front-runners who enjoy greater institutional support and significant political experience, although lawyer Al-Atawi is emerging as a credible technocratic candidate.

Isa Abduljabbar Mahmoud al-Kooheji – Incumbent 

Al-Kooheji: “The political confrontation in its entirety should be brought into the Parliament, in order to represent the voice of the people in the correct manner.” 

Al-Kooheji stressed that the role of independents had been clearly proven in past parliamentary performance. Al-Kooheji obtained around 58% of the vote in the last elections. 

Al-Kooheji has not been one of the faces appearing regularly in the media during this contest, so despite being the obvious front-running candidate, he risks losing ground to rivals. @isaalkooheji

Abdullah Ali Ibrahim al-Aynati – NUG 

Ambassador Al-Aynati will compete on the National Unity Gathering list. Al-Aynati said his campaign would prioritize “housing, education and infrastructure”. He told Al-Watan newspaper that he had entered the campaign because of his concern about the challenges the region was facing. 

Al-Aynati’s campaign has focused on “justice” and a “fair distribution of wealth and capabilities”.

Al-Aynati said he felt that he had skills and experience to contribute based on his long service in the diplomatic corps and his political background. He was formerly ambassador to Algeria.  @abdullaalaynati

Hamad Abdullah Hamad al-Mearaj

Al-Mearaj was a senior figure in the Bahrain Defence Forces. His campaign slogan is: “Your demands are my goal”. He is described as a distinguished figure with experience of being in command and who is well-versed in the challenges the local community faces (Al-Watan).

Al-Mearaj and many others, such as Muhammed al-Jowder in 5th Muharraq have received threatening messages from the “14th February” movement threatening attacks on their property. @Voting_Almearaj

*Rima Hassan Halal Khalid Halal

Rima told the media that she will prioritize “improving standards of living, the youth and those with special needs, including widows, orphans and the elderly”. She also said that she wanted to work on improving standards of education.

Rima’s promotional material highlights her role in providing training and mentoring to encourage the role of women in the political process. Campaign slogan: “Let’s develop… in order to progress”.

As the only woman contending a Muharraq seat, Rima’s campaign is arguably lacking in clear strategy, only 12 days before the polls opened she told journalists that she wasn’t sure whether she’d be opening a campaign headquarters or not.

Majid Mohammed Jassim al-Atawi

Al-Atawi comes from a legal and human rights background. He says that services and housing provision should also expand to the middle-classes. He pledged to use his legal experience for addressing shortcomings in the existing housing legislation.

Al-Atawi has promised to put together a local “administrative council” to serve the needs of his constituency. He noted his 12 years of legal experience and his civil society background in human rights and legal issues as qualifying him for a Parliamentary role. At the public opening of his HQ Al-Atawi criticized the lack of legal expertise in previous parliaments.

Al-Atawi has called for extensive renovation of the local area to improve services, rebuild homes that are in danger of collapsing and to protect its historical heritage

Mohammed Abduljalil Jaffar al-Murbati

Union representative Al-Murbati claimed that, since 2006, electoral contests had gone backwards because of the misuse of political funds. He complained about other contestants giving away gifts like air conditioners to potential voters. He stressed the need for more careful elections monitoring. Al-Murbati was soundly defeated by Al-Kooheji in 2010, with Al-Murbati only gaining 109 votes.

Al-Murbati warned voters against those who had supported “sectarian strife”.

Mohammed Abdulnabi Qorban Ali Khayami 

Khayami simply told journalists that his campaign platform was the same as the one he’d put forward in 2010, but promised to “wipe out” his rival candidates. He scored a respectable 710 votes in 2010, less than half of that of winning candidate Mahmoud al-Mahmoud.

5th Muharraq

Areas covered: Northeast Muharraq; Amwaj Islands; Qalali

Number of candidates: 10

Front-runner: Mahmoud al-Mahmoud (MP) 

Worth watching: Khalid Bu-Anq, Sami al-Shaer (NUG), Muhammed al-Dakhil, Ibrahim Ali, Abdulaziz al-Majid

Outsiders: Jamal Saad, Mohammed al-Jowder, Ahmed al-Mannai, Mohammed al-Faraj

Likelihood of going to second round: 75% 

Housing blocks: 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 257, 258, 263, 264, 265, 266, 269

Registered voters: 7,199

Mahmoud al-Mahmoud fights to retain Al-Amwaj

Voter demographic

Lying to the northeast corner of Muharraq, this large constituency has the smallest number of registered voters in the Governorate, although it is one of five Muharraq constituencies with between 7,000 and 8,000 voters. 

Much of this constituency is built on recently reclaimed land, including the trendy Amwaj islands. As a result, the population is predominantly middle class and cosmopolitan. 

However, the southern parts of this constituency include working class areas of Qalali, which observers describe as constituting the “electoral core” of the district. This is particularly the case after the constituency was recently expanded in order to incorporate a greater share of Qalali.

An Al-Watan survey for 5th Muharraq found widespread frustration amongst younger people in this area over poor housing provision and a perceived lack of action on the issues that matter by previous parliaments. There were also concerns about lack of suitable jobs for young graduates and lack of activities for younger people, while others noted the necessity of doing more for “marginalized” and disadvantaged constituents, like widows, unemployed, the elderly and those with special needs.

Candidate outline

The independent incumbent Mahmoud al-Mahmoud will be hoping to retain his seat, but he will have to compete against several independents and a National Unity Gathering candidate, Sami al-Shaer.

Commentators have described this district as being a stronghold of independent candidates, in comparison with many other Muharraq districts where political societies hold sway. 

Khalid Bu-Anq is also seen as a strong contender to Mahmoud, along with Mohammed al-Dakhil and Ibrahim Ali, who have all entered elections contests in the past. Therefore the key question is likely to be which two candidates make it into the second round.

As of 8 November Jamal Saad, Sami al-Shaer. Mahmoud al-Mahmoud and Mohammed al-Jowder had all opened their campaign headquarters and were actively pursuing their campaigns. 

After a slow start to this contest, Mahmoud al-Mahmoud will have his work cut out for him in staying ahead of the pack.

Mahmoud Yousif Mahmoud Abdullah al-Mahmoud – Incumbent 

Al-Mahmoud: “Those who regard the previous Parliament as weak are wrong. Deputies were able to prevent the downfall [of the Parliament] during the crisis Bahrain has undergone, making this an exceptional assembly.”

Al-Mahmoud has talked about the importance of partnership between the private and public sectors to address the housing issue, citing the example of Diyar Muharraq which is to provide 20,000 housing units.

Mahmoud was the chairman of the “independents block” in the previous Parliament and deputy chairman for the Financial Committee. Mahmoud told Al-Watan newspaper that the revised constituency borders in Muharraq had resulted in more sensible arrangements and would improve chances for the election of “competent” deputies.

Al-Mahmoud convened a public meeting with women of the district where he stressed their importance to the political process.

Al-Mahmoud is one of the more familiar contenders in using the social media, for example, running a Q&A session via Twitter.

Sami Ahmed Mohammed Abdullah al-Shaer –NUG 

Al-Shaer is competing on the National Unity Gathering list, which is part of the Al-Fateh Coalition. 

Al-Shaer has called for more support for the local Qalali sports club. He said that Qalali in general had not received the support it deserved and said that his candidacy was primarily focused on supporting the local community.

Al-Shaer has recently been questioning the authorities about why projects for developing Qalali have been held up, despite receiving official approval. @sami_alshaer

Khalid Saleh Ahmed Bu-Anq 

Bu-Anq, the current municipal councilor for 4th Muharraq launched a strong attack against the Muharraq Municipality for “targeting the people of Qalali”, claiming that measures had been taken by the Municipality “for pure electoral purposes”. He said that issues relating to agriculture and local businesses had existed for years, “so why had punitive action only been taken now?” Bu-Anq has previously contested these elections.

Abdulaziz Mohammed Khalifa al-Majid 

Businessman Al-Majid has criticized the performance of previous parliamentary deputies saying that if MPs had gone about their work with commitment and responsibility then Bahrain by now would have enjoyed “1,000 blessings”.

In an interview with Al-Watan newspaper, Al-Majid promised to exert every effort to improve living conditions in the district. He talked about seeking compensation for fishermen and other local people adversely affected by land reclamation projects. @vote4almajed  @vote4him_

Ibrahim Ahmed Ibrahim Ali

Ibrahim has been critical of the Interior Ministry’s handling of the post 2011 crisis. He promised to promote human rights if his candidacy was successful and strengthening the principles of the 2002 constitution, as well as opposing all those who “incited violence and hatred”. 

Ibrahim has a Masters in Diplomatic Studies from Westminster University. He is a former diplomat and currently works in banking. This is not his first candidacy attempt. @eali

Muhammed Jassim Mohammed al-Dakhil

Al-Dakhil: The boundary changes “stir up the stagnant water in the area”. Al-Dakhil emphasized “reform and change” and noted that the competition in the 5th district was likely to be “hot”. Al-Dakhil is a previous candidate.

Jamal Saad Salim Rashid

Jamal Saad is the Secretary-General of Qalali Club. He is an independent, but expressed his readiness to work with other groupings. He mentioned education, health and housing as among his priorities

Saad has also stressed the importance of “social justice, improving wage levels and eliminating class divisions” in his public statements.

Saad’s campaign literature highlights support for “widows, divorcees, orphans and those with special needs, to promote the things that will preserve your dignity”. @jamal_alsaad_1

Mohammed Hassan Rashid al-Jowder

Al-Jowder has proposed opening the first academy of its kind in Bahrain for the disabled. He said such support would help the disabled play a greater role in society, which in turn would benefit the national economy.

Al-Jowder stressed the importance of investing in human capital and achieving social justice. Al-Jowder promised to set up the first local “majlis” in his district dedicated to hearing the concerns and aspirations of young people, in order that appropriate parts of Bahrain’s administration could be made to hear these concerns. @m_h_aljowder_

Ahmed Abdulrahman Hassan Mohammed Salim al-Mannai

Mannai, who hails from the medical profession, has put health issues towards the top of his priorities: Preventative medicine, reducing cases of food poisoning, protecting consumers and raising awareness about medical issues. He has also highlighted educational issues, such as better-preparing graduates for the jobs market.  @a_almannai_2014

Mohammed Ali Ali al-Faraj

Mohammed had been tipped to be standing in the 3rd Muharraq district, before confirming his address as 5th Muharraq.

6th Muharraq

Areas covered: Dair & Samaheej

Number of candidates: 4

Front-runners: Abbas al-Madhi (MP)

Worth watching: Nabil al-Ashiri, Hassan al-Samaheeji

Outsiders: Abbas al-Faraj 

Withdrawn candidates: Dhiya al-Mousawi, Ismael Ali

Likelihood of going to second round: 50% 

Housing blocks: 231, 232, 233, 234, 235, 236, 237

Registered voters: 7,762

How will Muharraq’s Shia-majority communities choose to vote?

Voter demographic

Prior to 2011 this district had been held by Al-Wefaq, before being won by an independent candidate Abbas al-Madhi in the by-election that year. The significant opposition population which may in part decide to boycott makes the direction of the vote difficult to predict. However, several figures from the local Shia community have spoken out against the boycott. 

Candidate outline

MP Abbas al-Madhi has decided to stand again, despite his home being regularly attacked by opposition militants wielding firebombs. He said that he would not be deterred by such attacks. 

Nabil al-Ashiri has been an active campaigner with his statements regularly appearing in the media. Hassan al-Samaheeji may be relying on his prominence as a journalist and local family connections. 

Since the registration process, two candidates, Syed Dhiya al-Mousawi and Ismael Ali have withdrawn.

Abbas Isa Ali Hassan al-Madhi – Incumbent

Al-Madhi is a former deputy who registered at the last minute for the contest. He won his seat unopposed in the 2011 by-election.

He cited the importance of “accumulated experience” for serving in Parliament, noting that his previous presidency of the Services Committee qualified him to play a useful role in future legislation.

Al-Madhi has listed the improvement of living standards and reducing public debt as the key priorities for the coming Parliament.

Al-Madhi refused to confirm the size of his campaign budget, but said that candidates required at least 10,000 BD ($27,000) for a successful campaign.

Dr. Nabil Ahmed Yousif Ahmed al-Ashiri 

Al-Ashiri has pledged to assist low-income families, as well as focusing on “health, education and housing for citizens and a commitment to increasing their incomes”. Al-Ashiri wants to promote the public health sector to ensure a high standard of services available to all.

Al-Ashiri has called on the Department of Trade and Industry to put controls on the prices of basic goods “which have reached prices we can’t remain silent about”.

Al-Ashiri has criticized the planning of local housing projects in Dair and Samaheej, which he said had been given lower prioritization in comparison with other parts of Muharraq. @NAlashiri

Hassan Ahmed Ali al-Samaheeji

Al-Samaheej is a respected media figure from a prominent local family. He has so far had little coverage of his campaign outside the local area.

Abbas Ali Ali Isa al-Faraj

Al-Faraj has yet to appear in the media confirming his election platform. Presumably Mohammed al-Faraj contesting 5th Muharraq is his brother.

7th Muharraq

Areas covered: Arad

Number of candidates: 9

Front-runners: Nasir al-Fadhalah (Minbar), Ali al-Muqla (Asalah), Badr al-Hammadi (Watan)

Worth watching: Mohammed al-Sulaiti, Mohammed al-Wazzan, Khalid Ibrahim 

Outsiders: Abdulrahman al-Khashram, Adel al-Mannai, Muhammad al-Mulla

Likelihood of going to second round: 90% 

Housing blocks: 240, 241, 242, 243, 244, 245, 246, 247, 248

Registered voters: 13,204

Asalah vs Minbar in Arad

Voter demographic

This relatively small constituency in terms of land area has the highest number of registered voters out of all the constituencies in Bahrain, at 13,204. Arad has a predominantly Sunni working class demographic. Commentators are divided on whether this contest will be dominated by the political groupings or whether independent and technocratic figures will be more appealing to the voters.

Candidate outline

This constituency was formerly held by independent MP Uthman Sharif for three parliamentary terms from 2002 to 2014. Sharif has decided not to stand again and there is a long queue of candidates hoping to take advantage of this opening.

Early on in the election contest it looked like Sunni societies Al-Asalah and Al-Minbar would be contesting against each other. However, in the end, these groupings are only going head-to-head in this and two other constituencies; 10th Northern and 1st Southern. The contest between these two societies is one of the talking points of the elections. However, they face stiff competition from a number of prominent local figures.

Former MP Nasir al-Fadhalah – Minbar’s candidate – is a local political heavyweight who has been campaigning hard and seems to have been one of the first in the district to open his campaign HQ, along with Al-Watan’s Badr al-Hamadi, who is also fighting a strong, well-organized and well-publicized campaign. Al-Watan is the newly formed “liberal” political society, including several notable business figures and technocrats.

There are also several other high-calibre independent figures, including a former head of the Muharraq Municipal Council and a senior former Finance Ministry official.

Ali Yaqoub Yousif Mohammed al-Muqla – Asalah 

Al-Muqallah: “I have expended all my efforts in the service of Muharraq. I trust in the awareness of citizens who make up the support base of Al-Asalah Society in the constituency. I have been a municipal councilor, now I aspire to represent the area as a deputy”.

Nasir al-Shaikh Abdullah Masir al-Fadhalah – Minbar 

Al-Fadhalah is a leading member of the pro-Muslim Brotherhood Al-Minbar society and represented the same constituency during the 2006-2010 Parliament. Al-Fadhalah said that improving housing provision in the Arad area was his priority.

“Arad is historically linked to both Al-Minbar al-Islami and Al-Asalah Society and the local people are linked to these two societies;” said Al-Fadhalah to Al-Ayam. @nsfadala

Badr Sultan Ali Hassan al-Hammadi – Al-Watan

Al-Hammadi – a lawyer and former police officer now working in the legal profession – is a founder member of Al-Watan, the political society which claims to be a moderate voice aspiring for a united Bahrain. However, Al-Hammadi is technically standing as an independent candidate.

Al-Hammadi’s campaign also stresses “fighting terrorism and extremist ideology and protecting our national sovereignty”. Commentators have noted Al-Hammadi’s strong local support base. Al-Hamadi was soundly defeated by Nasir al-Fadhalah in 2006 (57 votes to 3,008!) @Bader_Alhammadi

Mohammed Mubarak Mohammed al-Sulaiti

Al-Saliti – a former Finance Ministry official – has confirmed that the economy would be his priority. “I will concentrate on improving quality of life through increasing income for individual Bahrainis and creating new job opportunities”, Al-Saliti told Al-Ayam newspaper. Al-Sulaiti has been active in engaging with local civil society to promote his campaign.

Mohammed Bin-Isa Abdullah al-Wazzan 

The former head of the local Municipal Council told journalists that his four years of experience on the council had prepared him for serving in Parliament. @alwazzanmohamed

Khalid Ibrahim Jassim Mohammed 

Journalist Ibrahim said that his campaign would focus on Bahrainis working together to fight corruption and create a better future for upcoming generations. His slogan is “Together we can” which he is promoting through Twitter and the social media.

Khalid said that the time had come to give greater support for promoting “capable and qualified candidates” representing the youth to political positions. He said that reducing the public debt needed to be a priority for the next Parliament.

Adel Abdullah Ghanim Bin-Hindi al-Mannai

In a video interview, independent candidate Adel Bin-Hindi said that improving living standards for pensioners and handling the housing issue were among his priorities.

Dr. Abdulrahman Rashid Yousif Rashid al-Khashram

Independent candidate Dr Abdullah al-Khashram is a prominent legal expert. In the early phases of the elections campaign his campaign was low key. However, a large advert on the front page of Al-Watan newspaper invited people to attend the opening of his elections HQ on 13 November.

Muhammad Halal Abdullah al-Mulla

Mohammed al-Mulla has so far gained little media coverage for his campaign.

8th Muharraq

Areas covered: Southern Muharraq; Hidd

Number of candidates: 3

Front-runners: Samir Khadim (MP), Abdulrahman Bu-Ali

Worth watching: Abdullah Bughamar

Likelihood of going to second round: 60% 

Housing blocks: 101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 109, 110, 110, 111, 112, 113, 115, 116, 117, 118, 119, 121, 128

Registered voters: 9,065

Can Khadim hold on to Hidd against strong competition?

Voter demographic

Hidd contains a large industrial area, substantial port and customs facilities, as well as boat-building and repair industries. There is a mixed working-class population and many new residential areas. There is also a north-south divide in this locality, which commentators have noted as a strong factor in who voters get behind.

Candidate outline

Until a 2012 by-election, this district had been held by the Salafi Al-Asalah society, before being replaced by independent MP Samir Khadim, who now faces a representative from the Sunni society, Al-Saff, and just one other independent candidate.

Khadim will be hoping that his incumbency and local popularity give him the edge in what is by far the smallest contest in Muharraq in terms of numbers of candidates. 

The constituency had is considered a stronghold for the Salafist Al-Asalah Society. Khadim does not represent Al-Asalah, but he enjoys their support, although they appear to have favoured his rival Abdulrahman Bu-Ali in the 2012 by-election.

Khadim hails from northern Hidd, which according to local pundits guarantees him a substantial proportion of support from those areas; whereas Abdulrahman Bu-Ali is a southerner and so also enjoys a near-guaranteed support base, in an area where kinship ties and local solidarity are crucial. 

With these two candidates looking to the residents of respectively the north and south areas as a guaranteed support base, Bughamar is said to be able to count on the affiliates of many political societies for his share of support.

Most factors seem to mark out Khadim as the favourite, but with Bu-Ali and (to a lesser extent) Bughamar being guaranteed a respectable proportion of votes, this may well push this contest to a second round.

Samir Abdullah Abdulrahman Ahmed Khadim – Incumbent

Independent candidate Samir Khadim arrived in Parliament after a 2012 by-election to replace Al-Asalah MP Ghanim al-Buainain. There is said to be widespread local satisfaction at Khadim’s performance as a deputy since 2012, particularly his care to maintain close relations with local constituents. 

Khadim was also a municipal councilor for four years and his family controls the locally-significant Hidd Club. So he can count on his supporters in northern Hidd, in addition to others in the area who see him as a competent representative.

Having contested four previous rounds of municipal and parliamentary elections, Samir Khadim is an experienced campaigner with a strong group around him who can canvass support.

Furthermore, Khadim is also said to count on the support of the powerful Asalah and Minbar Sunni societies, as well as the affiliation of two of the municipal candidates. @Sameer_Voice

Abdulrahman Ali Abdulrahman Bu-Ali

In the 2012 by-election Samir Khadim only narrowly beat Abdulrahman Bu-Ali, with Bu-Ali gaining 47% in the second round of the vote.

Bu-Ali has urged voters to play a more active role in monitoring the parliamentary activity of elected MPs and censuring deputies who fail to perform effectively. Bu-Ali is a committee member for significant local youth clubs. 

Bu-Ali enjoyed the support of the Salafist Al-Asalah Society during past elections contests, as well as having close ties with local cultural associations, intellectuals and local elites.  @a_a_buali

Abdullah Khalil Yousif Ibrahim Bughamar – Al-Saff 

Bughamar is representing the Sunni Islamic Al-Saff Society, as well as being a founding member of the National Coalition for Political Societies, which means that he can look for support to members of the National Action Charter Society, Al-Saff, the National Unity Gathering and the National Dialogue Society for support.

Bughamar gained just 55 votes standing against Abdulhalim Murad, contesting a Central Governorate seat in 2010. Despite his undoubted local connections, in comparison to the other two candidates, Bughamar may be seen as something of an outsider and suffer accordingly at the ballot box. @qhammar

 

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