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.
Areas covered: Isa Town
Number of candidates: 10
Front-runners: Adnan al-Maliki (MP Asalah), Jehan Mohammed (NUG), Khalid al-Shaer,
Worth watching: Khalid al-Qattan (Minbar), Salman al-Shaikh, Jaffar al-Kharaz
Outsiders: Ahmed al-Amer, Anwar Qambar, Abdulrahman Abdullah, Abdulghani al-Haiki
Likelihood of going to second round: 95%
Housing blocks: 718, 720, 801, 802, 803, 804, 805, 806, 807, 808, 810
Registered voters: 7,998
Battle for Isa Town between Asalah & NUG turns physical
This constituency will be an unpredictable and difficult fight. Because this sector is made up from former districts of the Central Governorate, it is difficult to predict where its new affiliations will lie.
Moderate independent candidates have tended to perform well in this central area. However, this contest is distinguished by being a three-way battle between three prominent Sunni/loyalist political societies: Al-Asalah, Al-Minbar and the National Unity Gathering. In this increasingly bitter elections contest, the question is whether independent candidates will be able to get a look in and make it through to the second round.
One of the scandals of the 2014 elections has been the alleged attack against Jehan Mohammed’s (NUG) campaign team by figures associated with Asalah. Details are murky and accusations have been cast by both sides, which may make this a slightly more-poisonous contest than the other relatively good-natured contests going on nearby. Contradictory statements on this issue from leading figures from Al-Fateh/NUG and Asalah may make the contests more bitter in other areas where these societies are going head to head.
The incumbent MP, Adnan al-Maliki from the Salafist Al-Asalah is competing against two other Sunni groupings, in the form of Al-Minbar al-Islami (Adnan al-Maliki) and the National Unity Gathering (female candidate Jehan Mohammed); along with numerous independent candidates, making this fight certain to go to a second round.
The NUG and Minbar are both part of the Al-Fateh Coalition, but this is one of the two constituencies where Al-Fateh societies are going head-to-head.
Al-Maliki has commenced a very visible and bullish campaign, with large billboards and a staunch defence of his parliamentary record.
With most of the media coverage focusing on the battle between Asalah and the NUG’s Jehan Mohammed, other candidates may struggle to gain sufficient attention.
Even Al-Minbar’s Khalid al-Qattan has hardly had a mention in the media, in comparison with daily coverage of the candidates of his two rival societies.
Independent candidate Khalid al-Shaer, however, has been very visible and his experience in fighting previous rounds of elections is showing through in helping him gain prominence and coverage, for example he recently opened his campaign headquarters to much fanfare.
Salman al-Shaikh is an incumbent MP, but represents one of the Northern Governorate constituencies that he captured in the 2011 by-election; having lost heavily to Al-Maliki in 2010. His campaign has so far received little media coverage, so there is little to suggest he can benefit from his incumbency to come out on top in this furious contest.
Adnan Mohammed Halal Ali al-Maliki – Asalah Incumbent
Al-Maliki stated that his society, Al-Asalah, wanted to focus on improving standards of living and improving housing provision during the coming Parliament. Al-Maliki had been standing as an independent when he won his seat in 2010.
Al-Maliki has been questioning how the dissolution of the Central Governorate will affect housing provision for the Isa Town area.
Al-Maliki: “I have a lot of popularity in this constituency because of the services I provided since I was a member of the Municipal Council and after becoming an MP”.
At a crowded public opening of his HQ, Al-Maliki told attendees that failing to vote and boycotts would weaken Bahrain’s position and would encourage “foreign interference”.
Al-Maliki seems to have had nothing to do with the attack on Jehan’s team – the allegations concern the team of Asalah’s municipal candidate. However, with Asalah being portrayed by the NUG as the aggressor, which rejects women’s participation in the vote, these incidents may reflect negatively on Al-Maliki’s campaign for re-election. @ALMALIKIADNAN
*Jehan Mohammed Mohammed Mahmoud Amin Hadi – NUG
Jehan was the first woman to register her candidacy in the Southern Governorate and has been a prominent voice since the elections were declared.
Jehan: “Bahrainis are determined to continue on their democratic path which offers wide-ranging freedoms and allows citizens to freely and sincerely express their views, including criticizing Government policies”.
The NUG has been vocal in calling for Bahrainis to back its two female candidates, Jehan and Sima al-Lengawi (10th Northern). Jehan has expressed her expectation that women will be highly “influential” in these 2014 elections.
On 9 November the Al-Fateh Coalition issued a formal complaint that a member of the local Al-Asalah candidate’s team for the municipal elections attacked Jehan’s HQ and physically attacked her husband and campaign manager.
Immediately after these incidents, the grand opening of Jehan and the NUG’s campaign HQ in the area was a major event, widely covered in the media and attended by high level figures from the NUG and Al-Fateh, in solidarity with Jehan’s candidacy.
On 12 November Jehan stated that her billboards in the district had been specifically targeted by firebomb attacks.
Jehan: “Implementing his Majesty the King’s directives for putting women in their rightful place and acknowledging her role in society is one of the most important factors for reform”. @JihanMohammed1
Khalid Abdulaziz Yousif al-Shaer
Al-Shaer told Al-Bilad newspaper that he had gained a lot of political experience since his failed candidacy in the previous elections when he came second against Isa al-Qadhi. Al-Shaer said he would focus his campaign on developing human capital, housing and security.
Al-Shaer has proposed a mandatory period in which housing requests must be granted or the Housing Ministry would face fines.
At the opening of his campaign tent on 8 November, Al-Shaer promised “contemporary solutions” to the housing issue and stressed the need for a more systematic approach to improving standards of living, saying that the solutions that had been put forward “don’t amount to more than an attempt to stir up emotions”.
Al-Shaer said that the involvement of young people in politics “strengthens the democratic process and enriches the work of Parliament”. @alshaer_khalid
Khalid Mohammed Yousif al-Qattan – Minbar
Al-Qattan told Al-Wasat newspaper that his chances were good “based on my positive role in the National Consensus Dialogue”. He praised the high number of candidates in the 1st Southern constituency as “healthy phenomenon” for providing constituents with a broad choice.
Salman Hamad al-Shaikh Mohammed Isa al-Shaikh – incumbent
Al-Shaikh only gained just over 200 votes against Adnan al-Maliki in 2010. He then participated in the 2011 by-election in a Northern constituency and gained a seat, before returning again to contest against Al-Maliki this time around.
As of 6 November, Al-Shaikh’s campaign was only just getting going, with 17 followers on his campaign Twitter account. @salmanalshaikh
Jaffar Habib Jaffar al-Kharaz
Al-Kharaz has stressed that “housing and the youth” are his two campaign priorities. Habib cited his past experience of government work on housing issues to illustrate that he had the necessary experience to address people’s aspirations on this issue.
Al-Kharaz will stand as an independent, saying he wanted to show that independent voices were the best able to reflect the views of citizens.
His campaign brochures humorously highlight the need to combat corruption in the elections process; displaying images of a fridge, an air conditioner and money (items notorious for having been given out in previous elections) with a “X” symbol next to each one.
Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Saad al-Amer
Al-Amer is an administrative official for a bank. He pledged to prioritize “supporting economic projects and projects for national unity”. He is also prioritizing security and stability.
Amer clarified that he was standing as an independent, despite being a member of Mithaq. He said that Bahrainis had “lost trust in political societies”.
Anwar Ibrahim Mohammed Qambar
Qamber’s electoral material has included the slogan “the national interest should come ahead of any other consideration”.
Abdulghani Mubarak Ali al-Haiki
Abdulghani still hasn’t succeeded in gaining media coverage in this tough 1st Southern contest.
Abdulrahman Abdullah Hassan Jassim
Beyond confirmation of his candidacy, little has been heard in the media so far from this candidate.
Areas covered: Isa Town, Zayid Town
Number of candidates: 8
Front-runner: Isa al-Qadhi (MP)
Worth watching: Faydh al-Sharqawi, Mohammed al-Ahmed, Abdulaziz Matar
Outsiders: Ahmed Matar, Mohammed al-Dhawadi, Ahmed al-Murbati, Yaqoub Nassim
Likelihood of going to second round: 85%
Housing blocks: 809, 812, 813, 814, 840, 841
Registered voters: 8,212
An open field with no political groupings
The working-class conurbations of Isa Town and Zayid Town were part of the now non-existent Central Governorate. These areas have historically been the most favourable for liberal, technocratic, female and broadly-speaking progressive candidates.
In these somewhat more-diverse areas political societies – loyalist or opposition – have often struggled to make headway. Hence, all nine candidates are independents.
Incumbent MP Isa al-Qadhi will be facing stiff competition from a string of other independent candidates. Al-Qadhi’s rivals have on several occasions been critical of the “poor performance” and “scarce results” of incumbent MPs.
Journalist Mohammed al-Ahmed, Faydh al-Sharqawi and Abdulaziz Matar have been notable so far for fighting vigourous and visible campaigns through the press and social media. The latter two opened their campaign headquarters in early November. All three are campaigning conspicuously for the “youth” vote.
Al-Sharqawi’s campaign has been conspicuously well-funded, with short videos and a lavish opening of her-campaign headquarters, which was described by journalists as a “cinematic” experience.
With several of the eight candidates clearly believing that they have a strong chance of winning this contest, a second round looks almost certain. Indeed, we will probably have to wait until after the first round is over to really get a sense of which of these many vigourously-competing independent candidates have really made an impression with the general public.
Isa Ali Jamal al-Qadhi – Incumbent
Al-Qadhi is an independent MP who won his seat in a second-round run-off in 2010. Al-Qadhi, in comments to Al-Wasat newspaper, accused many candidates of simply participating for “financial motives”; saying that the large number of candidates in these elections was a negative phenomenon. @isaalqadhi
*Faydh Ali Ahmed Jassim al-Sharqawi
Al-Sharqawi has called for greater support for small and medium businesses, including a reduction in the fees imposed on these ventures.
Al-Sharqawi has stressed the importance of encouraging young people to participate in the democratic process through outreach to universities and schools, with a view to promoting the King’s reform project.
At public meetings Al-Sharqawi has urged that voters promote young candidates “in order to witness their capabilities for accomplishing change”. She has expressed her expectation that women will perform well in the 2014 elections.
Mohammed Salman Mohammed Saleh al-Ahmed
Journalist Al-Ahmed has praised the recent electoral boundary changes as “making a big difference to the political map” and has stressed the importance of independent monitors for guaranteeing transparency and fairness for the elections. Al-Ahmed in an interview with Al-Bilad newspaper also stressed the importance of combatting extremist groups like ISIS.
Al-Ahmed has been outspoken in warning about increases in personal debt, out of proportion with the relatively low wages of ordinary citizens. He noted in comments to Al-Ayam that 72,000 citizens had wages lower than 400 dinars (approx. $1060) per month. “Improving living standards must occur in parallel with reducing public debt” stressed Al-Ahmed.
Al-Ahmed has been one of the more visible candidates. One of his promotional posters cites his priorities as “Standard of living… then standard of living… then standard of living”.
The opening of his elections HQ was attended by hundreds of local people in a crowded tent. Al-Ahmed promised attendees that he would prioritize “security and fighting terrorism”. @MohamedAlAhmed
Abdulaziz Mohammed Matar Jassim al-Shawoush
Abdulaziz says he has put “the youth at the centre of my campaign”. He said that young people could achieve great things for Bahrain, but they “have never been given the chance”. Matar was head of the Student Council at Bahrain University.
Matar has called for changes in the housing law which he says will allow for a more equitable and efficient distribution of housing units.
Matar has promised to use his role in the coming Parliament for a “fairer” approach to the spending of state budgets in support of Bahraini families.
Matar said he would work with a team of “legal and economic specialists from the primarily youth” to assist him in pressuring the Government to revise its spending policies. Matar has been very visible in the social media. @AzizMatter
Ahmed Saleh Rashid Matar
Matar says that the aim of “re-establishing national unity” lies behind his candidacy. He said that intellectuals and civil societies had failed to play this crucial role in addressing divisions and sectarianism.
He called on candidates to abide by ethical guidelines in competing for the elections and avoiding events of previous campaigns where promotional material of rivals was vandalized.
Mohammed Ahmed Saleh al-Dhawadi
Al-Dhawadi slogan: “I don’t promise what I can’t deliver. I do what I promise”.
Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Ali al-Murbati
Al-Murbati, 36 years-old, told journalists that he had dreamed of competing since 2002, but only now was he within the age limit. He said that Isa al-Qadhi, the local incumbent had had long enough in his seat.
Yaqoub Yousif Yaqoub Nassim
Nassim initially announced he was standing for election – then withdrew – then returned to the contest. Nassim will stand as an independent, despite being a member of the “Reform Society” associated with Al-Minbar al-Islami.
Areas covered: North Riffa, Hajiat
Number of candidates: 6
Front-runner: Abdulhalim Murad (MP Asalah)
Worth watching: Hassan al-Ali, Mohammed al-Maloud, Mohammed al-Housani
Outsiders: Abdullah al-Hajji, Naji al-Dossary
Withdrawn candidates: Ali al-Hassan
Likelihood of going to second round: 55%
Housing blocks: 922, 933, 934, 935, 937, 941
Registered voters: 7,227
Can anybody depose Abdulhalim Murad?
This constituency is in the central loyalist heartland of Al-Riffa. An older generation of voters can be expected to support establishment figures who espouse unwavering support for the Monarchy and Islamic values.
However, candidates will also have to reach out to a younger generation who want to see MPs who reflect their interests and can be seen to deliver tangible results.
Asalah, in the three Southern constituencies they are contesting (1st, 3rd & 5th Southern) are fighting a vigourous campaign. Their campaign posters are often the most visible and these candidates have been pushing their strong record of service as municipal councilors and deputies.
The incumbent Al-Asalah candidate Abdulhalim Murad will be tough to displace. He enjoys widespread public support and as one of Bahrain’s longest-serving MPs he tends to dominate the media coverage.
Younger candidates like Hasan al-Ali are trying hard to engage the youth vote and other candidates are seeking to entice voters through focusing on standards of living and the ever-present housing issue.
There are few signs yet of anyone mounting the kind of campaign that will be keeping Abdulhalim Murad awake at night, although campaign billboards for Hassan al-Ali and Mohammed al-Housaini are growing in visibility around the area.
Abdulhalim Abdulaziz Ahmed Murad – Asalah Incumbent
Murad, a prominent local cleric and one of Al-Asalah’s best-known public faces, will be fighting hard to retain his seat.
Abdulhalim Murad has been in the Parliament since 2006. Murad’s campaign so far has emphasized a strong record of raising issues in Parliament, challenging the Government on budgetary issues and defending local interests. @Murad_bh
Hassan Mohammed Hassan Mohammed al-Ali
Al-Ali has pledged to be a “voice representing the youth and their aspirations”. “We young people are capable of undertaking the responsibility of promoting the ideas and acts of the youth in order to maximize the national good”; Al-Ali told Al-Ayam newspaper. He said that his campaign centred around “implementing” the King’s economic “Vision 2030” initiative.
Al-Ali has pledged to promote the idea of a Youth Parliament if he wins the candidacy.
Mohammed Matar Khalifa al-Maloud
Al-Maloud said that he would put forward a number of solutions for addressing the housing issue and improving the position of families of limited income. He said he wanted to learn lessons from “developed nations” for putting forward creative solutions to these challenges.
Dr. Mohammed Yousif Ahmed Rashid al-Housani
Al-Housani is a member of the pro-Muslim Brotherhood Al-Minbar al-Islami, but is to stand as an independent candidate. He has stressed that he will focus on “improving the lives of citizens and strengthening their sense of belonging to the nation and their loyalty to the leadership”. @M_alhosany
Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah Ahmed al-Hajji
Al-Hajji’s campaign slogan: “Partners for change”.
Naji Saad Dhafir Ali al-Dossary
Campaign slogan: “Only you possess the desire for change, so you must choose.” After a slow start, Naji is emerging as a serious candidate and has been among the first to open his campaign tent to the public. @Naji_Aldoseri
Areas covered: Nuwaidrat, Sanad, Hajiat
Number of candidates: 7
Front-runner: Mohammed al-Maarifi
Worth watching: Nabil al-Musaifar, Ashraf al-Assar
Outsiders: Faisal al-Bufalah, Abdulrahman Abdulkarim, Abdulhamid al-Shaikh, Ibrahim al-Mannai
Withdrawn candidates: Hashim al-Madani (Minbar)
Likelihood of going to second round: 65%
Housing blocks: 643, 645, 646, 929, 931, 939
Registered voters: 8,589
Al-Maarifi excludes Al-Minbar
This is a mixed – opposition/loyalist Sunni/Shia – constituency which will make the results very interesting, particularly as this constituency is another product of boundary changes and the abolition of the Central Governorate.
Nuaidrat and Sanad are traditionally Shia, but many of the other areas are Sunni or mixed. There are reports that candidate billboards have been defaced in the Sanad area.
This smaller constituency is wedged between the 10th Capital district where 15 candidates have been competing hard for attention and the huge 8th Southern district where numerous contestants are jostling to displace the prominent and controversial MP Jassim al-Saeedi. With the staunchly loyalist Riffa constituencies to the west, the 2014 parliamentary elections have been impossible to ignore in this area, however locals may feel about voting.
Registered candidate, Dr. Hashim al-Madani, who represents Al-Minbar Society, had his candidacy disallowed after a rival, Al-Maarifi, submitted evidence that Al-Madani’s legal address wasn’t in the constituency.
Al-Madani’s exclusion left Al-Maarifi as by far the most visible candidate who is said to enjoy widespread support. Huge Al-Maarafi billboards are everywhere and he has been one of first to open his campaign headquarters in the area.
However, candidates like Ashraf al-Assar and Nabil al Musaifar have been trying to gain ground on Al-Maarifi; and figures like Ibrahim al-Mannai and Abdulhamid al-Shaikh have been seeking to rival Al-Maarifi in the battle of the billboards.
Mohammed Yousif Mohammed al-Maarifi
Al-Maarifi had been tipped to be representing the National Unity Gathering. However, after not being included on their final list he is running as an independent. He has been one of the more visible figures since early on in the contest.
Al-Maarifi told Al-Watan newspaper that he was working with a “team of experts and specialists to prepare a time-based plan to solve the housing crisis” in his constituency. Businessman Al-Maarifi has stressed the importance of economic experts in the coming Parliament in order to promote economic growth and address the challenges the country faces.
Al-Marifi came third in the 2010 elections with 610 votes.
Nabil Mohammed Salim Hamad Mohammed al-Musaifar
Lawyer Al-Musaifar said he wanted to play a role in raising standards of living. He urged Bahrainis to come out in large numbers to vote. Al-Musaifar has accused the municipal candidate Yousef al-Sibbagh of “monopolizing” Al-Musaifar’s campaign site.
Ashraf Rizq Ismail al-Assar
Al-Assar has stressed the importance of “pumping youthful blood” into the Bahraini Parliament. He told voters to ask themselves what they had gained from their elected deputies since 2002 – and then vote for the most suitable figure.
Al-Assar explained why he was highlighting “the citizen” as the centre of his electoral platform, saying: “The citizen is the focus of developmental policies and the primary motivator of these”. @alassar_ashraf
Ibrahim Ahmed Saleh Ahmed al-Mannai
Faisal Ibrahim Jabbarah al-Bufalah
Faisal told the media that he wants to focus on reducing prices of certain basic goods and increasing wages.
Abdulrahman Abdulkarim Abdulrahman Akhund
Abdulkarim has called for unity and solidarity around the elections process; avoiding partisanship: “We are all competing for the public good, not for personal ends”.
Abdulhamid Ali Yousif Sulaiman al-Shaikh
Promotional slogan: “I’ll be honoured to serve you, for building a better future”.
Areas covered: West Riffa, Haniniyah, Bukuwarah
Number of candidates: 6
Front-runners: Abdulrazzaq al-Hattab (Asalah), Fawzia Zainal
Worth watching: Nayef al-Jassim
Outsiders: Adel al-Rowaei, Mohammed Qarratah, Khalifa al-Ghanim
Likelihood of going to second round: 55%
Housing blocks: 901, 903, 905, 910, 925, 927
Registered voters: 8,788
Can Al-Asalah dominate the field in west Riffa?
This is a fiercely loyalist district in the ruling family’s heartland of Riffa. However, even here, voter participation cannot be taken for granted and candidates will have to reach out to younger voters, the professional classes and more disenfranchised sections of the electorate.
Boundary changes for this recently-expanded district and those in the vicinity mean that previous assumptions about favoured candidates in this area don’t necessarily apply this time. So candidates will have to work harder to win over a broader demographic of supporters.
The battle will be between the representative for the Sunni Asalah Society and a few independent candidates. Asalah’s Abdulrazzaq al-Hattab, as former head of the Municipal Council is the most likely winner of this contest.
However, women’s activist Fawzia Zaynal is also a popular figure who has a proven public following after contesting several rounds of parliamentary elections. Her campaigning experience has shown through, with her gaining a lot of media coverage for her campaign and being one of the first to open her local headquarters to constituents.
Nayef al-Jassim has emerged as the candidate seeking to gain the votes of young people. Three other candidates have had relatively little media visibility.
Abdulrazzaq Abdullah Ali al-Hattab – Asalah
Sunni cleric Al-Hattab, who is standing as a representative for the Salafist Al-Asalah Society, has been the municipal councilor in the Central Governorate for two terms. As head of the municipal council during his second term, he told Al-Watan newspaper that his service gave him valuable experience in liaising with government departments and understanding how they worked”.
Al-Hattab has promised to resubmit a housing strategy formerly proposed by Asalah MPs, which he said aimed to deal with this issue “holistically”; raising the wage levels of those who could benefit from housing in order to take account of inflation and rising costs of living.
*Fawzia Abdullah Yousif Zainal
Fawzia, a women’s activist, has contested three rounds of parliamentary elections without yet winning a seat.
During statements made in October Fawzia said that her campaign platform would focus on women and improving their living conditions, particularly divorced women or those bringing up families. Fawzia says that housing is also one of her priorities, as well as addressing unemployment and fighting corruption.
Fawzia stressed the need for “fundamental solutions to the issue of unemployment, supporting pensioners and improving living conditions, especially for divorced women and children”.
However, in media comments made in November, Fawzia said that she put “legal protection for security men and improving their situation” at the top of her priorities.
Fawzia came second in the 2006 elections with a respectable 2,283 votes. @fawziazainal5
Nayef Mohammed Abdulrahman Mohammed al-Jassim
Al-Jassim said he had put together a “youth bloc” to contest the elections to “prevent the political and religious societies from dominating the assemblies”, calling on people to “free themselves from the dominance of these societies”.
Al-Jassim: “I will enter Parliament with the ideas of the youth in order to change the status quo between deputy and electorate… I have entered the elections to facilitate greater boldness among young people for taking this step.”
Adel Ali Mohammed Faris al-Rowaei
Al-Rowaei was formerly associated with Al-Minbar and he had formerly contested the municipal elections. He expressed his desire to work to improve standards of living for the more vulnerable sections of society.
Mohammed Abdulwahid Jassim Hassan Qarratah
So far Mohammed Qarratah hasn’t had anything like the sort of media coverage obtained by his rivals.
Khalifa Abdullah Mohammed al-Ghanim
Khalifa al-Ghanim has received no media coverage so far.
Areas covered: Northern Riffa, Bukuwarah
Number of candidates: 9
Front-runners: Mohammed al-Buainain (Mithaq), Anis Buhindi
Worth watching: Layla Rajab (Al-Watani al-Hurr), Nawal al-Dossary, Abdullah Baqer, Salah Khalifa, Yousif al-Hamdan
Outsiders: Khalifa al-Dossary, Ibrahim Fakhro
Withdrawn candidates: Hassan al-Mir, Hashim al-Fadhli
Likelihood of going to second round: 75%
Housing blocks: 913, 914, 915, 916, 917, 918, 919, 921, 923
Registered voters: 8,262
Head of Parliament withdraws from the field
One of the big stories of the elections was the announcement of Khalifa al-Dhahraini, the head of the previous Parliament, that he wouldn’t be standing. Al-Dhahrani had been one of Bahrain’s most-long serving and highly respected MPs and if he had decided to participate his electoral success was considered a certainty.
Al-Dhahrani’s non-appearance opens up the field for a broad group of untested candidates. This is a safe loyalist seat in an area which has tended to prefer independent candidates.
The most prominent figure is Mohammed al-Buainain, head of the Mithaq Society, which is part of the loyalist Al-Fateh Coalition. However there are numerous other independent figures, including local cleric Anis Buhindi and a female “Free Nationalist” Society representative jostling for attention.
After a quieter start to their campaigns, Nawal al-Dossary, Yousif al-Hamdan and Ibrahim Fakhro were among the first to open their campaign tents to the public.
In a crowded contest where it is difficult to confidently identify front-running candidates, the many contestants will initially be focusing their attention on being one of the two figures who make it through to the second round. It may only be at that point that we get a sense of who enjoys significant public support.
Legal measures were reportedly being pursued against one unnamed candidate who reportedly falsified papers submitted for registration. Registered candidate Hassan al-Mir withdrew from the contest, citing his plan to contest the 2018 elections instead. Hashim al-Fadhli has also withdrawn.
Mohammed Shaheen Tawq al-Buainain – Mithaq
Al-Buainain is Secretary-General of Al-Mithaq al-Amal al-Watani (National Action Charter) Society. He appears to have delayed his candidacy until the last minute to ensure Al-Dhahrani wasn’t standing.
Al-Buaynayn has called for head-to-head contests between elections contestants to help voters reach their decision.
*Layla Rajab Zayid Omar – Al-Watani al-Hurr
Rajab said that three candidates were associated with her “Free Nationalist” society. In comments to Al-Ayam, Rajab rejected spending excessive money on election campaigns, saying that such money should be donated to better causes. Rajab is competing for the third time, having lost previously to the influential Khalifa al-Dhahrani, head of the last Parliament.
Abdullah Abdulrahman Baqer Mohammed
Baqer told Al-Ayam newspaper: “Previous deputies have played their role, but the coming Parliament must do more to improve standards of living, which have become very difficult”. Baqer said that he didn’t want to be associated with any political grouping, but desired to “put forward the aspirations of citizens with complete independence”.
Anis Ali Ali Saif Buhindi
Shaikh Anis Buhindi is a prominent local cleric and could well turn out to be one of the stronger-performing candidates. He said the housing file needed a “complete strategic overhaul” in the coming Parliament and observed that the legislative and executive bodies should work more effectively together.
Buhindi also talked about raising standards of living, fighting corruption and promoting the economy. @AnasBuhendi
Dr. Salah Ahmed Khalifa Mohammed
Dr Khalifa: Bahrain’s youth are the key to solving the many problems that we suffer from. They can become a positive force if we encourage them to take responsibility”.
Khalifa – Chairman of the Bahrain Technological Institute – promised to use his position within civil society to encourage the participation of local societies in projects to promote growth and education.
Dr. Khalifa: “I was encouraged by many people to participate, as they believe I am the right man for the job.” Dr. Salah said he had intended to stand irrespective of whether Al-Dhahrani was participating.
*Nawal Ahmed Saqer Ahmed al-Dossary
Yousif Ahmed Ali al-Hamdan
Al-Hamdan said that he chose to contest the elections because Parliament was “lacking in intellectuals… those who possess a holistic vision of life”. He said he would prioritize “standards of living and the fate of future generations”
Journalist Al-Hamdan said it was his “dream and aim” to make it to Parliament, while acknowledging the strength of the competition in his constituency.
At the public opening of his elections HQ Al-Hamdan stressed the importance of the parliamentary role of monitoring the business of government, emphasizing how vital this work was for ensuring transparent, effective and representative government.
Ibrahim Abdulrahman Abdulrahman Fakhro
Campaign slogans: “Together we’ll complete the path of progress and development”; “With your vote we’ll achieve change”.
After a low key start to his campaign Fakhro told the 200-300 attendees at opening of his HQ that he planned to establish a local committee which would convene daily to hear the concerns of local constituents. He said that his primary priority was increasing standards of living and gave particular attention to the improvement of health services..
Khalifa Ahmed Nasir al-Dossary
Al-Dossary has yet to come out and achieve a profile with the media.
Areas covered: Nuwaidrat, West Riffa, Rawdhah
Number of candidates: 3
Front-runner: Abdullah Bin-Huwail (MP)
Worth watching: Ahmed al-Dossary, Anwar al-Mohammed
Disallowed candidates: Sharikh al-Dossary
Likelihood of going to second round: 35%
Housing blocks: 746, 748, 902, 904, 906, 908, 912, 920, 924, 926, 928, 930, 932
Registered voters: 8,304
Bin-Huwail the favourite in West Riffa contest
The 7th Southern district is one of the more diverse areas in southern Bahrain. It is effectively a new constituency, given the extent of the new borders, which encompass Sunni Riffa and Shia Nuaidrat. A significant proportion of people from this area work for the army.
This area is known for its tribal ties and so three of the four candidates hail from the Sunni Dossary and Al Marra tribal families.
Three independent candidates looking to displace the incumbent MP Abdullah Bin-Huwail, who had previously headed the “Independents Bloc” in the Parliament. Another MP, Ahmed al-Mulla, changed his electoral address to avoid standing in the same constituency as Bin-Huwail.
An analysis by Al-Watan newspaper predicted that Bin-Huwail could win outright in the first round because of his local popularity.
Anwar al-Mohammed succeeded in getting the courts to remove prominent rival Sharikh al-Dossary from the contest, because he held both a Saudi and Bahraini passport.
Abdullah Ali Jabir Bin-Huwail – Incumbent
Bin-Huwail: The boycott has failed. The nation is ready to participate and decide its own destiny”. He said that he had decided to be independent because “the independent bloc has proved its role in advancing numerous issues in the 2010 Parliament”.
Ahmed Faisal Jabr al-Dossary
Anwar Lats Khidhr al-Mohammed
Anwar’s promotional material has featured the slogan “We’ll progress through you”.
Areas covered: Southern Sitra, Ma’amir, East Riffa, Awali, Mazrowiyah, Askar, Jaw, Dawr
Number of candidates: 7
Front-runner: Jassim al-Saeedi (MP)
Worth watching: Dhiyab al-Noaimi
Outsiders: Noura Bushehri, Mohammed al-Sisi, Ali al-Rumaihi, Abdullah al-Azami, Mohammed al-Awdhani
Likelihood of going to second round: 45%
Housing blocks: 613, 614, 615, 616, 635, 636, 907, 909, 911, 942, 943, 945, 946, 948, 949, 950, 951, 952, 953, 954, 955, 957, 958, 959, 960, 965, 981, 982, 983, 985
Registered voters: 6,451
Will Jassim al-Saeedi conquer all?
Constituency border changes have produced this rather odd constituency, ranging from the opposition home turf of Sitra to the loyalist hearth of Riffa.
The 8th Southern district lies to the south of Bahrain along the eastern coast, in an area with a relatively low population density. Despite its relatively large size, this is the constituency with the fourth lowest number of voters.
The expansion of this district has brought in a few Shia-majority areas, particularly to the north east in Sitra, which may help create opportunities for a more diverse range of public representatives.
After the failure of sitting MP Khamis al-Rumaihi to register, the dominant figure in this contest is outspoken Sunni Islamist MP, Jassim al-Saeedi. It remains to be seen whether other independent candidates can gain sufficient exposure to have any chance.
A confident Al-Saeedi will be disappointed if he doesn’t get more than 50% in the initial vote and is therefore forced to face a second round. His rivals have so far not been conspicuously successful in gaining the kind of exposure which would allow them to pose a serious challenge to someone like Al-Saeedi.
Dhiyab al-Noaimi has been one of the more visible candidates and has been sharply outspoken in attacking the performance of previous parliamentary representatives.
Al-Saeedi’s face is everywhere on campaign billboards and he has been attracting many potential supporters to his huge local campaign headquarters, which Saeedi claimed could seat 10,000 people. This is arguably excessive in a district with 6,450 voters!
As rival candidates have had to up their game in order to familiarize themselves with voters, whole street-sides have been filled with long rows of billboards for parliamentary and municipal candidates.
Jassim Ahmed Abdulkarim Isa al-Saeedi – Incumbent
Al-Saeedi: “I have a popular following in all constituencies and therefore these changes won’t affect my chances of winning”. Al-Saeedi is a controversial Sunni preacher who has been outspoken in attacking the opposition since the 2011 unrest. This led to charges of sectarianism, but has increased his public profile and if anything, intensified his support base. Saeedi has held a parliamentary seat since 2002, however, he is calling for “new blood” in the 2014 Parliament. @jassimalsaeedi
Dhiyab Mohammed Mohammed Dhiyab al-Noaimi
Al-Noaimi: “Our aim is to support the democratic process and entrench its values, as well as strengthening parliamentary life in our kingdom”. @Theyabalnoaimi
Al-Noiami said he will concentrate on housing and promoting career opportunities for young people. He said that Bahrainis had “despaired” of the poor performance of previous parliaments and said that voters would lose trust in the process if many of the same faces made it back into Parliament.
Mohammed Ibrahim Ali Muhanna al-Sisi al-Buaynayn
Al-Sisi: “Each generation has its own ideas. I’m from a different generation from previous deputies… it’s now our turn to move things forward. There is incomplete legislation that new needs new thinking in order to develop it.”
*Noura Mohammed Ali Mahmoud Abdulnabi Bushehri
Lawyer Bushehri wants to concentrate on increasing the incomes of pensioners, while improving employment prospects for recent graduates. Bushehri, who holds a Masters in criminal law, stressed the benefits of well-educated candidates, particularly those from a legal background.
Ali Abdullah Jumah al-Rumaihi
Al-Rumaihi said he wanted to concentrate on finding jobs for unemployed Bahrainis and assisting low-income families, as well as addressing the housing issue and providing more support for pensioners.
Abdullah Mohammed Saleh al-Azami
Al-Azami: “My primary motivation for candidacy is serving my nation and providing a better life for Bahraini citizens in all constituencies”. He stressed the importance of national unity. @vote4al3azmi
Mohammed Ibbad Mohammed Saleh al-Awdhani
Al-Awdhani has had little coverage in the media so far. However, his billboards have been up in the locality with the slogan “Together in the nation of love and peace”.
Areas covered: Southwest coast; Sakhir
Number of candidates: 5
Front-runners: Mohammed al-Quwwati (NUG), Mohsin al-Bakri, Yousif al-Dossary,
Worth watching: Mohammed al-Dossary, Mutib al-Dhawadi
Withdrawn candidates: Abdullah al-Dossary
Likelihood of going to second round: 60%
Housing blocks: 944, 947, 976, 986, 1048, 1051, 1052, 1054, 1055, 1056, 1057, 1058, 1061, 1062, 1063, 1064, 1067, 1068, 1069, 1070, 1099
Registered voters: 5,090
The National Unity Gathering’s southern hope
The 9th Southern district is one of the three sparsely populated but geographically large southern constituencies that will certainly go to a loyalist candidate.
Independent candidates have traditionally performed strongly in the constituencies of the Southern Governorate. Tribal and familial ties are everything in these traditionally-minded locations, hence the prevalence of certain family names among the candidates.
This contest changed dramatically after incumbent MP for three terms, Abdullah al-Dossary, was appointed by the King as secretary-general of the Assembly of Deputies, necessitating Al-Dossary’s withdrawal from the contest.
Prominent candidates include Mohammed al-Quwwati from the National Unity Gathering; and former municipal councilors Mohsin al-Bakri and Yousif al-Dossary. Al-Quwwati has received a lot of media coverage, including a nearly-full page interview with Al-Watan.
Mohammed Abdulqadir al-Quwwati – NUG
Journalist and academic Al-Quwwati said that the National Unity Gathering wanted to “widen” the presence of the middle class in Bahrain. He also stressed the importance of raising standards of living and encouraging “family tourism” to Bahrain.
Al-Quwwati’s promotional material has highlighted the issue of fighting “financial and administrative corruption”. He has also called for a “national institution for strategic planning” for promoting economic growth.
Al-Quwwati has called for the establishment of a centre for cultivating a sense of national awareness and unity, for “building a stable, safe and progressive society”. @Mohamed_AlQooty
Yousif Fayhan Saleh al-Dossary
Yousif was a municipal councilor for two terms between 2002 and 2010. Al-Dossary called on the opposition to participate in the elections, citing the importance of “diversity and different views” in Parliament.
Mohsin Ali Mohammed Abdullah al-Bakri
Al-Bakri served for two terms as a municipal councilor and was head of the council during his second term. Al-Bakri observed that the absence of political societies like Al-Minbar and Al-Asalah in the 9th district created a greater opening for independents like him. Al-Bakri is to prioritize improving standards of living and greater scrutiny of spending of public funds.
In a full page interview with Al-Watan newspaper, he identified monitoring government performance and fighting corruption as his two most important priorities.
Mohammed Ahmed Abdullatif al-Dossary
Mohammed al-Dossary had been included as one of the four candidates from the Mithaq Society, which is part of the Al-Fateh Coalition. However, on 13 October he announced that he would be standing as an independent candidate. He told Al-Ayam newspaper that he was still a member of Al-Mithaq and “proud to be associated with it”. However, after canvassing views of constituents, “it became clear to me that people of the constituency didn’t accept candidates associated with political societies. Also my chances are better if I’m dissociated from Al-Mithaq Society or others”.
Mohammed clarified that if he was elected he would remain independent. “I will be close to all parties who collaborate to promote the reformist project, who preserve the established national fundamentals and who work to expand the margins of freedoms and democracy”.
Mutib Abdullah Dhahir Mutib al-Dhawadi
Al-Dhawadi, earlier in his campaign expressed his hope for support from one of the political societies. He pledged to continue with the work that the previous Parliament had begun.
Areas covered: Southern Bahrain, Dawr & Hawar islands
Number of candidates: 2
Front-runner: Ahmed al-Mulla
Worth watching: Khalid al-Dossary
Likelihood of going to second round: 0%
Blocks: 961, 967, 971, 973, 987, 988, 989, 995, 997, 998, 999, 1101, 1102, 1103, 1104, 1106, 1107, 1108, 1110, 1111, 1112, 1113
Registered voters: 2,368
Small but bitter contest in the deep south
The 10th Southern district encompasses a large area of Bahrain’s southern landmass, but is sparse on population. With 2,368 registered voters, this is the constituency with by far the smallest number of voters in Bahrain (next smallest 9th Southern with 5,090 voters). However, prior to the electoral reforms this region only had around 1,175 registered voters.
10th Southern includes the Hawar Islands whose ownership was previously contested with Qatar, which in themselves have a landmass larger than most of Bahrain’s other constituencies.
Latifa al-Gaoud, who was Bahrain’s first female in 2006, has long held on to this constituency although she did not register to participate this time around.
An obvious replacement is sitting MP Ahmed al-Mulla who, as a result of the boundary changes, has now registered to compete in this region. As a result of a few withdrawals and candidacy rejections, he only now faces one opponent; Khalid al-Dosary.
This small but fierce contest ended up in court at the end of October, with Al-Dossary petitioning that Al-Mulla wasn’t qualified to stand in this constituency. The court ruled in Al-Mulla’s favour.
This campaign is taking place far from the eyes of the media and most Bahrainis and there has been little coverage of any sort of this campaign, although one or two observers speculated about whether Al-Dossary would decide to withdraw, once it became clear that Al-Mulla was contesting the seat.
Ahmed Ibrahim Rashid Rashid al-Mulla – Incumbent
Al-Mulla had been set to stand in the 7th Southern constituency. However, he changed his address after seeing how the constituency border changes “weakened his chances”. He subsequently told journalists that he had not wanted to stand against the head of his “Independents Bloc” Abdullah Bin-Huwail.
Al-Mulla said that in the coming Parliament he wanted to concentrate on economic legislation in order to promote growth. He commented that the previous Parliament had spent a far greater portion of its time on criminal and judicial matters.
Khalid Khalifa Ali al-Binghadir al-Dossary
Al-Dossary took his rival Al-Mulla to court claiming that he wasn’t legally entitled to stand in the 10th Southern constituency. Neither candidate has been particularly visible in the media putting forward constructive policy proposals.