The Muharraq constituencies saw some of the highest voter turnouts in the first round, with seven of the eight constituencies witnessing participation of between 74% and 88%.
Sunni political societies Asalah and Minbar are to run against each other in 7th Muharraq in the second round. Minbar’s Saadi Mohammed looks the favourite to win in 1st Muharraq and Al-Wasat’s secretary-general made it into second place in 3rd Muharraq.
1stMuharraq – Saadi Mohammed (Minbar) vs. Ali Bufursan
Areas covered: Busaiteen
Housing blocks: 225, 226, 228, 229
Registered voters: 8,071
Total number of votes: 6892
Valid votes (excluding void ballots): 6658
Percentage voter turnout: 85.4%
Votes per candidate:
Saadi Mohammed (Minbar) – 1986 (29.8%)
Ali Bufursan – 1567 (23.6%)
Defeated candidates: Mohammed al-Hussaini – 1451 (21.8%); Ahmed al-Obaidli – 416 (6.3%); Ahmed Ashir – 397; Yahya al-Majdami – 345; Mohammed al-Qalalif – 226; Ahmed Aqqab – 153; Thani Rashdan – 115
This strong performance for Sunni society Al-Minbar and for Saadi Mohammed personally will come as a relief for a political society that was clearly somewhat nervous going into the elections.
Al-Minbar performed poorly in 2010, winning just two seats, after its failure to repeat its 2006 electoral alliance with Asalah. In addition to this, in 2014 the regional mood had turned against any grouping associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, so it was unclear how this would impact on Al-Minbar at a local level. In the event, Saadi Mohammed has produced a very significant win against hard-fighting rivals.
Ali Bufursan has also waged a remarkable campaign, being one of the candidates to consistently gain most media coverage at a national level. Bufursan’s campaign team repeatedly came up with new approaches to gain further exposure in a very crowded and high-calibre contest.
For example, 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.
However, the key event in this 1st Muharraq elections was the last-minute and surprise withdrawal of standing MP since 2002, Adel al-Moawdah.
Although Al-Moawdah had resigned from Al-Asalah, he was still closely associated with the organization, so many pundits predicted that potential votes for Al-Moawdah would naturally go to Al-Minbar’s Dr. Saadi Mohammed.
However, 1st Muharraq has been one of the most competitive constituencies in Bahrain in 2014, so few people felt confident about predicting this result.
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”.
However, the 85.4% turnout shows a local public who were highly engaged by this contest and who felt passionate about coming out and supporting their candidates, while renewing their engagement with the political process.
Dr. Saadi Mohammed Abdullah Ali – Minbar
Dr. Saadi won a seat in the 2002-2006 Parliament, but lost to Adel al-Asoumi in 1stCapital 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.
Prior to Al-Moawdah’s withdrawal, 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_
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
2ndMuharraq – Ibrahim al-Hamadi vs. Abdulmunim al-Eid
Areas covered: Muharraq central
Housing blocks: 203, 205, 206, 209, 221, 222
Registered voters: 7,563
Total number of votes: 6015
Valid votes (excluding void ballots): 5819
Percentage voter turnout: 79.5%
Votes per candidate:
Ibrahim al-Hamadi – 1761 (30.3%)
Abdulmunim al-Eid – 1550 (26.6%)
Defeated candidates: Wahid al-Dossary – 1251 (21.5%); Salim Rajab (NUG) – 524 (9.0%); Mohammed al-Buainain – 357; Abdulrahman Bin-Zaiman – 195; Ahmed al-Jowder – 127; Khalid Bu-Jiri – 54
In this highly-competitive constituency Ibrahim al-Hamadi and Abdulmunim al-Eid have come through to beat some respected candidates. Abdulmunim al-Eid was the first to open his campaign tent and has fought a vigourous campaign. Al-Hamadi’s campaign has been rather more low key and he has had little media coverage.
Ibrahim al-Hamadi looks set to win, but with a high turnout expected, this campaigbn is open for either competitor to win.
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.
The 80% turnout would be considered remarkable if it hadn’t been exceeded in many other Muharraq districts.
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.
3rdMuharraq – Jamal Buhassan vs. Ahmed Al Binali
Areas covered: Muharraq central, Qalali
Housing blocks: 202, 204, 208, 210, 223, 224, 227
Registered voters: 7,563
Total number of votes: 5867
Valid votes (excluding void ballots): 5650
Percentage voter turnout: 77.6%
Votes per candidate:
Jamal Buhassan – 1219 (21.6%)
Ahmed Al Binali (Wasat) – 1061 (18.8%)
Defeated candidates: Mohammed al-Mutawwa – 1032 (18.3%); Adel Bu-Anq – 693 (12.3%); Mohammed Murad – 631 (11.2%); Abdulnasir al-Mahmeed (Asalah) – 555 (9.8%); Yusuf al-Awadhi – 176; Abdulrahman Fakhro – 170; Mohammed Ahmedi – 61; Abdallah Saad – 52
Jamal Buhassan’s win is remarkable against popular contestants like Mohammed al-Mutawwa, Adel Bu-Anq and Asalah’s candidate, Abdulnaser al-Mahmeed. However, Bhuassan has experience of fighting elections contests, having lost by around 300 votes to Al-Minbar’s Ali Ahmed in 2010.
The Secretary-General of the Al-Wasat Society – Ahmed Al Binali – is a prominent face in this contest and had been predicted to perform well. Al-Wasat is considered to be part of the Al-Fateh Coalition.
Although Buhassan is ahead, this contest could go either way, depending who supporters of other candidates line up behind.
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.
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. Jamal Buhassan came second to Ali Ahmed in 2010.
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.
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.
In a second round interview Buhassan expressed confidence in his own prospects saying “I don’t fear confronting the societies of the Al-Fateh Coalition”.
Buhassan gained 667 votes in 2010. His Minbar opponent Ali Ahmed beat him with 983.
4thMuharraq – Winning candidate: Isa al-Kooheji
Areas covered: Muharraq central
Housing blocks: 207, 211, 212, 213, 214, 215, 216, 217
Registered voters: 7,904
Total number of votes: 6224
Valid votes (excluding void ballots): 5946
Percentage voter turnout: 78.7%
Votes per candidate:
Isa al-Kooheji (MP) – 3022 (50.8%)
Defeated candidates: Rima Halal – 887 (14.9%); Abdullah al-Aynati (NUG) – 675 (11.4%); Hamad al-Mearaj – 590 (9.9%); Majid al-Atawi – 196; Mohammed al-Murbati – 422; Mohammed Khayami – 154;
Prominent independent incumbent Isa al-Kooheji succeeded in fighting off the National Unity Gathering representative, Ambassador Abdullah al-Aynati; and a number of independent rivals.
Although Al-Kooheji was the obvious favourite to win, few people would have predicted how strong his victory would be. Al-Kooheji himself will be relieved to have defeated his opponents so convincingly in the first round.
Credit has to go to Rima Halal as the only female candidate in Muharraq Governorate. She ended up coming second against some very competitive rivals, like Ambassador Abdallah al-Aynati. Such a result puts her in a strong position for competing in future rounds of elections.
These urban areas of Muharraq island can 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.
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, apparently relying more on his parliamentary record. @isaalkooheji
5thMuharraq – Mohammed al-Jowder vs. Khalid Bu-Anq
Areas covered: Northeast Muharraq; Amwaj Islands; Qalali
Housing blocks: 251, 252, 253, 254, 255, 256, 257, 258, 263, 264, 265, 266, 269
Registered voters: 7,199
Total number of votes: 6306
Valid votes (excluding void ballots): 6120
Percentage voter turnout: 87.6%
Votes per candidate:
Mohammed al-Jowder – 1252 (20.5%)
Khalid Bu-Anq – 1245 (20.3%)
Defeated candidates: Mahmoud al-Mahmoud (MP) – 1020 (16.7%); Muhammed al-Dakhil – 653 (10.7%); Mohammed al-Faraj – 583 (9.5%); Abdulaziz al-Majid – 504;Jamal Saad – 402; Sami al-Shaer (NUG) – 309; Ahmed al-Mannai – 90; Ibrahim Ali – 62
After a slow start to this campaign, Mohammed al-Jowder gained increased prominence as the media covered the opening of his elections HQ. He has been getting sympathetic media coverage for his proposals.
Municipal Councilor Khalid Bu-Anq has been outspoken in raising issues of local concern. Having only come seven votes behind Al-Jowder, Khalid Bu-Anq will be hoping that his municipal council record places him strongly to win this in the second round.
It was far from inevitable that incumbent MP Mahmoud al-Mahmoud would be defeated, as he is a respected figure and political heavyweight. However, the vote is possibly an indicator of the frustration many voters are currently feeling towards the limited achievements of the previous Parliament.
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 in these areas 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.
Commentators have described this district as being a stronghold of independent candidates, in comparison with many other Muharraq districts where political societies hold sway.
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.
Given these frustrations, we can only credit the huge levels of political engagement in this constituency, with a voter turnout of nearly 90%.
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_
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?”
6thMuharraq Abbas al-Madhi (MP) vs. Nabil al-Ashiri
Areas covered: Dair & Samaheej
Housing blocks: 231, 232, 233, 234, 235, 236, 237
Registered voters: 7,762
Total number of votes: 858
Valid votes (excluding void ballots): 703
Percentage voter turnout: 11.1%
Votes per candidate:
Abbas al-Madhi (MP) – 273 (38.8%)
Nabil al-Ashiri – 270 (38.4%)
Defeated candidates: Hassan al-Samaheeji – 82 (11.7%); Abbas al-Faraj – 78 (11.6%)
MP Abbas al-Madhi decided to stand again in 2014, despite his home being attacked several times by opposition militants wielding firebombs. Al-Madhi 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. In the 2014 elections, many candidates in opposition-dominated areas have been cautious about appearing in the media, but Al-Ashiri has consistently received coverage for his policy proposals and political vision, in contrast with his 6th Muharraq rivals.
In the first round there were only three votes between these two contestants. Al-Madhi has the public profile as the standing MP, but Al-Ashiri seems to have been waging the more energetic campaign. Taking into account the low and unpredictable turnout, this contest could easily go either way.
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 made efforts to enforce the boycott inevitable. However, several figures from the local Shia community have spoken out against the boycott.
The 11% turnout is in stark contrast to participation of around 80% in all the other Muharraq districts.
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
7thMuharraq – Nasir al-Fadhalah (Minbar) vs. Ali al-Muqla (Asalah)
Areas covered: Arad
Housing blocks: 240, 241, 242, 243, 244, 245, 246, 247, 248
Registered voters: 13,204
Total number of votes: 9800
Valid votes (excluding void ballots): 9339
Percentage voter turnout: 74.2%
Votes per candidate:
Ali al-Muqla (Asalah) 1599 (17.1%)
Nasir al-Fadhalah (Minbar) 1525 (16.3%)
Defeated candidates: Mohammed al-Sulaiti – 1493 (16.0%); Badr al-Hammadi (Watan) – 1474 (15.8%); Abdulrahman al-Khashram – 1114 (11.9%); Khalid Ibrahim – 912 (9.8%); Mohammed Wazzan – 528; Mohammed Halal – 363; Adel al-Mannai – 331
After a relatively shaky performance for political societies in other parts of Bahrain in these elections, both Al-Minbar and Al-Asalah will be relieved to have made it through to the second round.
Asalah and Minbar will also be going head to head in one other Bahraini constituency – 10thNorthern. It should be remembered that in 2006 these two Sunni societies formed an elections alliance. This relationship broke down in 2010, with the two societies going head to head in several constituencies and as a result only gaining five seats between them.
Relations were further damaged in 2014 with Minbar deciding to contest the elections within the Al-Fateh Coalition and Asalah remaining outside, which seems to have thwarted any attempts to coordinate elections strategies.
Given the state of play going into the second round, these two societies between them can only win a maximum six seats across the whole of Bahrain, so there will be a bitter fight for seats like 7th Muharraq to demonstrate which society comes out on top.
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 were 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.
This constituency was formerly held by independent MP Uthman Sharif for three parliamentary terms from 2002 to 2014.
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
8thMuharraq – Winning candidate Abdulrahman Bu-Ali
Areas covered: Southern Muharraq; Hidd
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
Total number of votes: 7783
Valid votes (excluding void ballots): 7540
Percentage voter turnout: 85.9%
Votes per candidate:
Abdulrahman Bu-Ali – 4197 (55.7%)
Defeated candidates: Samir Khadim (MP) – 3020 (40.1%); Abdullah Bughamar (Al-Saff) – 323 (4.3%)
Bu-Ali was always seen as a strong contender. However, he has done well to unseat an incumbent – Samir Khadim – who enjoys strong local support. This is particularly the case as there was said to be widespread local satisfaction at Khadim’s performance as a deputy since 2012, including with his care to maintain close relations with local constituents.
Until a 2012 by-election, this district had been held by the Salafi Al-Asalah society, before being replaced by Samir Khadim.
Khadim hails from northern Hidd, which according to local pundits guaranteed 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.
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.
The 86% turnout is remarkable for any elections and indicates how loyal people in this area are to their preferred candidates and their sense of voting as a national obligation.
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