Areas covered: Hilla, Meqsha, Karranah, Janusan, Barbar, Diraz
Number of candidates: 4
Withdrawn candidates: Mirza Ahmed Ali
Likelihood of going to second round: 50%
Housing blocks: 444, 450, 454, 456, 458, 460, 502, 504, 506, 508, 514, 518, 520, 522, 524, 526, 528, 530, 536
2014 registered voters: 10,749
2014 percentage 1st round voter turnout: 8.1%
2014 first round vote: Ali al-Dirazi (MP) – 189 (26.8%); Fatimah al-Asfour – 183 (26.0%); Hussain Habib – 164 (23.3%); Yassir Nassif – 68 (9.7%); Mohammed Rabea – 47; Jaffar al-Asfour – 33; Mohammed Shehab – 21
Second round vote: Fatimah al-Asfour – 276 (51.1%); Ali al-Dirazi (MP) – 264 (48.9%)
This district – which has lost some of its territory to the Capital Governorate – has been right at the centre of the post-2011 unrest. So unsurprisingly, in 2014 the boycott was very strong here, with only around 8% of people voting. Many candidate billboards were attacked and burnt.
In 2014 standing MP Al-Dirazi has been very visible in all the newspapers and local billboards. Nevertheless, he was beaten by Fatima al-Asfour in a second-round vote; 264 votes, to 276 amidst a very low turnout. Fatima proved to be a very quiet candidate in the 2014 Parliament; rarely putting her name to proposals or penning questions to ministers. As of 2018 she is standing down. The result is that none of the four existing candidates have much of a national public profile, although Kaltham al-Haiki has been actively campaigning through the media.
Kaltham was reported to be the first female candidate to formally submit her registration and she has emerged as an active campaigner who quickly gained significant media exposure. She said that boycotting the elections is like the kick which hits the bar of the goalposts in football; the crown cheers, but ultimately without scoring. Haiki called for young people to gain a higher share of parliamentary seats this time around, in order for there to be new blood.
Mohammed Rabea was not on earlier 2014 candidacy lists, so it would appear that he was allowed to stand on appeal. However, he had signaled his intention to stand as early as September 2014, predicting that the constituency changes strengthened his chances.
Areas covered: Markh, Bani Jamra, Diraz
Number of candidates: 3
Likelihood of going to second round: 45%
Housing blocks: 531, 537, 538, 539, 540, 541, 542, 543, 544, 580, 582, 583, 584, 586, 588, 590
2014 registered voters: 6,970
2014 percentage 1st round voter turnout: 8.0%; vote decided in 1st round.
2014 first round vote: Jalal al-Mahfoudh – 183 (41.0%); Hussain al-Hamar – 170 (38.1%); Fadhil al-Dirazi – 93 (20.9%)
Diraz is the home of Ayatollah Isa Qassim, spiritual leader of the disbanded Al-Wefaq Islamic Society, who in 2014 was leading the call for a boycott of the parliamentary elections. Thus it wasn’t surprising that the 2014 vote turnout was only around 8%.
In these tense circumstances the 2014 candidates themselves came under pressure: Mahmoud al-Jamri withdrew his candidacy and Hussain al-Hamar’s car was set alight by militants. Jalal Kadhim was the only figure visibly pursuing his candidacy, with coverage in the media, online activity and posters advocating his candidacy, some of which were vandalized. He was also the only one known to have opened a campaign headquarters to receive members of the public.
Jalal Kadhim was a vigorous candidate who dominated the local contest in 2014 and he was also an active MP in making the case for improved services for the locality while addressing key issues like youth unemployment. However, in October 2018 he was struck down as a candidate when rivals successfully petitioned to the courts that Kadhim wasn’t permanently resident in the district. Although Fadhil al-Dirazi did campaign in 2014, he wasn’t a particularly high-profile figure. Dirazi has been much more active this time around with a series of statements outlining his political aspirations. His two rival candidates are newcomers.
Fadhel received little coverage in the media during the 2014, however he has been far more visible going into the 2018 contest. He has called for widening Bahraini participation in the political process and has urged a greater role for youth. He mentioned his own activism “on political, social and economic platforms for providing Bahrain with a qualitative leap and strengthening its position among the states of the world.” Ahead of the elections he referred to being part of a “National Renaissance Bloc” (Al-Nahdah al-Wataniyah).
Areas covered: Northern strip of west coast; Budayya, Haniniyah, Jasra, Hamala, Um Sabiyan, Um Na’san, Jiddah
Number of candidates: 6
Likelihood of going to second round: 75%
Housing blocks: 550, 552, 553, 555, 557, 559, 561, 565, 569, 587, 581, 585, 589, 591, 1001, 1002, 1003, 1004, 1006, 1009, 1010, 1089, 1095
2014 registered voters: 6,082
2014 percentage 1st round voter turnout: 64.4%
2014 first round vote: Hassan al-Dossary (MP) – 1437 (38.0%); Hamad al-Dossary – 1086 (28.7%); Adel al-Dossary – 697 (18.4%); Firas Nouruddin – 493 (13.0%); Mamdouh Marhoun – 35; Abdulaziz al-Dhawadi 34
Second round vote: Hamad al-Dossary – 1984 (58.6%); Hassan al-Dossary (MP) – 1404 (47.4%)
This area encompasses many of the Sunni/loyalist localities along the north of Bahrain’s west coast, like Budaya, Hamala and Jasra. Despite being one of the largest Northern constituencies in geographical size, 3rd Northern has only 6,082 registered voters.
In these intimate and traditional communities, the contest is as much about personal and tribal connections as it is about policies, which makes this a more difficult district to predict. In fact one Al-Watan newspaper analysis described local elites as perceiving the elections in this district purely as a contest to show which tribe was on top. Hence, in previous years, there has been vigorous rivalry over who can put the largest billboards in the most conspicuous positions, but less evidence of significant policy debate through the media.
Going into the 2014 contest, it was widely reported that Hassan Salim al-Dossary as the sitting MP had lost popularity because he was perceived not to have supported local interests in recent housing allotments in the Budaya area. Young candidate Hamad al-Dossary, who ultimately won the contest, had previously played a major role in successfully returning Hassan al-Dossary to Parliament twice by masterminding his campaign strategy. In 2014 Hamad campaigned hard through the press and social media, coming second place in the first round, before going on to win in the second.
This remains a difficult constituency to predict, although with four Dossarys running against each other, family and tribal ties will clearly play a significant role here.
As a pro-youth candidate, Hamad emerged during the 2014 elections as one of the most recognizable new faces, gaining plenty of media coverage. He was active through the social media and engaging widely with the local public.
Al-Dossary had a somewhat hesitant start to his parliamentary career and he remained one of the less-heard figures during parliamentary sessions. However, he became increasingly vocal on following up on housing initiatives for local constituents and in proposing the establishment of new health centres and schools. He is clearly a well-motivated figure with a lot to contribute.
Al-Dossary has worked in close cooperation with other young MPs from neighbouring Shia-majority constituencies, like Jalal Kadhim al-Mahfoudh and Ghazi Al Rahmah to address issues of shared concern, like housing provision.
Hamad in 2014 campaigned under the slogan “National partnership… national responsibility”, with an emphasis on improving standards of living. Hamad said that this “national responsibility” included action to stamp out corruption and outdated standards of administration. He stressed that “the youth is the most important tool for change”, calling for voters to back younger candidates. Hamad was seen as a particularly strong contender, having twice helped mastermind the successful electoral campaigns of his now-rival Hassan Salim al-Dossary. @hamadaldoseri_
Areas covered: Jidhafs, Jablat Habshi, North Sehla, Qadam, Abu-Quwwah
Number of candidates: 17
Likelihood of going to second round: 95%
Housing blocks: 431, 433, 435, 439, 441, 447, 455, 457, 702, 704, 706, 708, 712, 714, 744
2014 registered voters: 9,277
2014 percentage 1st round voter turnout: 27.0%
2014 first round vote: Ghazi Al Rahmah – 646 (29.4%); Nawaf al-Sayed – 571 (25.9%); Huda Radhi – 438 (19.9%); Hussain Jawad – 335 (15.2%); Mohammed al-Aleywi – 211 (9.6%)
Second round vote: Ghazi Al Rahmah – 853 (55.8%); Nawaf al-Sayed – 675 (44.2%)
This was previously the largest electoral district in Bahrain (formerly 1st Northern, with 15,500 registered voters in 2006). However, much of the west of that constituency (the wider Sehla area) has been incorporated into the Capital Governorate, leaving behind a constituency with an approximately average number of voters.
While most candidates from this district in 2014 fought a relatively low-key campaign, Ghazi Al Rahmah came out with a very visible and clearly-branded contest, geared towards younger voter demographics. As a young MP, he has often collaborated closely with colleagues in neighbouring constituencies like Hamad al-Dossary and Jalal Kadhim. With all MPs facing criticism after four difficult years for the economy, the question is whether Rahmah can retain his position in an unprecedentedly crowded field of 17 candidates. Other than Ghazi, none of his rivals contested in this constituency in 2014. In particular, this constituency includes a number of young technocratic candidates, such as lawyers, businessmen, economists and civil servants.
Ghazi Al Rahmah
Al Rahmah is a younger MP who has spoken out confidently on a number of occasions in defence of improving public spending in order to benefit low-income Bahrainis more effectively. During parliamentary sessions he is inclined to be one of the quieter participants. However Al Rahmah has worked effectively with younger MPs from neighbouring constituencies like Mohammed al-Dossary and Jalal Kadhim to jointly raise issues like housing and services of specific concern to local constituents. This collegiate attitude and a genuine concern for prosaic issues like health and infrastructure mark Al Rahmah out as a promising and committed young MP.
In the weeks before the 2014 elections Ghazi Al Rahmah came out with a very visible and clearly-branded campaign, geared towards younger voter demographics. His campaign team were also successful in soliciting media coverage, during which Al Rahmah criticized the performance of former deputies and condemned the poor provision of services to the local area. Ghazi pledged to work harder for his constituents in ensuring they were given due consideration for housing provision, services, infrastructure and jobs.
Al Rahmah strongly criticized previous housing and services legislation which he said discriminated unfairly against many citizens. Ghazi and other 2014 candidates have been particularly critical of the regulation that combines the income of husbands and wives to determine housing allocation, and is thus seen to discriminate unfairly. Al Rahmah also criticized the provision of Government support, saying that 75% of this went to “foreign hotels and restaurants”. He urged public spending to be better directed for projects that benefit citizens and promote economic growth. Al Rahmah said his 2014 campaign budget was 8,000 BD ($21,000 US) – a relatively modest amount. @gazialrahma
Lawyer Amal Salman said that her priority would be raising the proportion of Bahrainis in the workforce. She stressed the central role that Parliament should be playing in improving standards of living and developing public services.
Mayoud said that he rejected the exploitation of the public’s suffering by elections candidates trying to come up with unrealistic promises in order to win positions. He stressed Parliament’s role for overseeing the spending of public money, preventing corruption and ensuring good governance. Mayouf also urged doing more to support the elderly which he said represented a national source of wealth in terms of skills and experience.
Economic expert Ammar Awachi is competing under the slogan “Partners in development”. He has previously specialized in the sector of small and medium-sized businesses and imports. He stressed his desire to play a role in following up on annual audit reports and addressing cases of poor governance and corruption. Awachi noted that the Parliament required more technocrats and younger people.
Shomali has called for the reform process to become more comprehensive and far reaching in the coming years, while praising the increasing role of women in society. He stated that culture, knowledge and a strong personality were key to practicing parliamentary work. Showmali urged a greater climate of entrepreneurship and innovation for increasing creativity and productivity in the national economy.
Businessman Amin has promised to utilize his connections and experience to increase levels of investment in Bahrain if he gets into Parliament. He stressed the importance of Bahrain’s Vision 2030 and said that he wanted to focus on financial and budgetary issues. Amin complained that the previous Parliament hadn’t even fulfilled 20% of what the public demanded in 2014. Amin claimed that his electoral platform was based on the idea that there didn’t need to be negative consequences of political decisions for the public.
Ibrahim Al Shehab
Civil servant Shehab said that his electoral platform was rooted in protecting the rightful benefits of citizens; with particular priority given to security, education housing and health. Shehab stated that the authorities had to review its housing policy, given the small size of housing units provided to citizens.
Salman noted his higher education in Islamic studies as one of his primary qualifications for standing as an MP. He has promised to play a role in drafting legislation for improving standards of living.
Yousif promised if elected to donate 50% of his income to helping pay off debts for limited income families. He said that he wanted to draft a law to oblige major companies to increase wages for long-term employees. He also said that he wanted to reform the pensions law which he said was currently like a “death sentence” upon the elderly.
Areas covered: Qadam, Hajar, Abu Saiba, Shakhurah, Muqaba, Diraz, Sar, Markh
Number of candidates: 17
Likelihood of going to second round: 95%
Housing blocks: 449, 453, 435, 439, 441, 447, 457, 702, 704, 706, 708, 712, 714, 744
2014 registered voters: 10,388
2014 percentage 1st round voter turnout: 16.3%
2014 first round vote: Ali al-Aradi – 339 (22.7%); Jamil al-Rowaei – 338 (22.6%); Ahmed al-Najjar – 236 (15.8%); Jamil al-Mahari – 104; Fadhil al-Harz – 100; Nabil al-Lababidi – 98; Hannan Abdulaziz – 96; Isa Taqi – 91; M. Mohsin – 65; M. Khalil – 30
Second round vote: Ali al-Aradi – 534 (53.4%); Jamil al-Rowaei – 467 (46.7%)
This is shaping up to be one of the toughest battles in the top half of the Northern Governorate. This also proves to be a very vigorous area for campaigning in 2014 where, in contrast with neighbouring constituencies where election campaigns had been almost invisible, dozens of candidate billboards sprung up along the main highways traversing this area.
Several of the villages in this district between 2011 and 2014 familiar as rioting hotspots, fueling active opposition to participation in elections. However, extensive new housing developments in this area have given rise to a cosmopolitan mix of middle-class families who can be expected to turn out and vote, making this one of Bahrain’s more diverse areas.
During the 2014 contest, former civil servant Jamil al-Rowaei had been one of the more visible figures in the media discussing his policy initiatives, along with consultant Ali al-Aradi who fought a well-funded campaign and was widely perceived as a favourite. Although Aradi won in 2014 and went on to be deputy chairman of the Parliament, he stood down in 2018 ahead of the elections. Jamil al-Rowaei has returned to the contest, along with a broad range of relatively unknown and untested figures, only a few, like Louay Kamaluddin, who have so far been seen campaigning through the media.
Rowaei in 2018 said that he had been motivated to participate again in elections by the weak performance of the 2014 Parliament, which he said had been the weakest in history. He said that there should be tougher qualifications for ensuring suitable candidates, including holding a university degree. Rowaei described some current MPs as “greedy” for positions and privileges, while not performing their proper role.
Jamil in 2014 said that “fighting sectarianism” was his top priority. He told Al-Watan that despite his close ties with political groupings he wanted to contest as an independent in order to “represent all segments of the Bahraini people equally to guarantee the promotion of national unity”.
Jamil cited his years of service in “those Government departments closest to citizens” and his recent Masters in law as among his attributes in an interview with Al-Watan newspaper. He will prioritize housing, infrastructure, inflation and health insurance. Al-Rowaei has also talked about the need for government measures to address the many stalled housing projects.
As well as promoting himself through campaign posters, Al-Rowaei has been active through social media outlets like Twitter, directly engaging with voters. @JAlrowaie
Louay said that he had designed his campaign platform in order to be compatible with aspirations of citizens, particularly young people; adding that he wanted to prioritize legislation to benefit the youth. He also mentioned the importance of education, supporting those with special needs, improving the trading environment and reforming parliamentary procedures.
Areas covered: Aali
Number of candidates: 8
Likelihood of going to second round: 65%
Housing blocks: 730, 732, 734, 736, 738, 740, 742
2014 registered voters: 10,704
2014 percentage 1st round voter turnout: 20.2%
2014 first round vote: Rua al-Haiki – 718 (37.3%); Mohammed Al Asfour – 323 (16.8%); Majid Saleh – 280 (14.5%); Mohammed al-Aali – 261 (13.5%); Mohammed al-Bahhar – 199 (10.3%); Moayed Neamah – 61; Ali al-Sayegh – 54; Younis Jassim – 31
Second round vote: Rua al-Haiki – 762 (61.3%); Mohammed Al Asfour – 481 (38.7%)
Aali is an archaeologically significant area as the home of thousands of prehistoric burial mounds. The old village of Ali is predominantly Shia. As in 2014, there may be many who choose to boycott, but those associated with the established local families are likely to come out in support of local Shia candidates. One 2014 analysis in the Al-Watan newspaper went as far as characterizing this contest as a battle between the Shia Asfour and Aali families, predicting that the turnout would “exceed all expectations” because these families would try and bring their supporters out in large numbers. The writer noted the relatively benevolent nature of this contest, given the close ties between many of the candidates.
Much of the newer development in Aali has gone to Sunni families (described by one commentator as “technocrats, liberals and business figures”), leading to a balance between the communities and meaning that active boycotters may constitute a minority.
The incumbent, who won his seat in the 2011 by-election – Ahmed al-Saati – is a respected figure and his sudden announcement that he wouldn’t be standing in 2014 came as a surprise. The result was a rush of new candidates declaring their candidacies at the last minute. A 2014 poll commissioned by candidate Rua al-Haiki found that the most prominent issue concerning local constituents was housing (38%), followed by employment opportunities (29%) and improving standards of living (17%), with education and health also featuring.
As in 2014, a significant proportion of 2018 registered candidates in this locality have hardly received a mention in the media and tend to rely on their local connections. The notable exception in 2014 was young Shia businesswoman Rua al-Haiki who pursued a systematic, visible and well-funded campaign, with large adverts in national newspapers. By positioning herself as a businesswoman and technocrat with practical experience in addressing unemployment, Al-Haiki targeted both the middle-class “loyalist” communities and disaffected young people. Haiki went on to win in the second round.
The new crop of candidates includes some older local figures, like Hameed Abdulridha, Saeed al-Aali and Abduljalil Salman; and younger figures who have explicitly promoted issues concerning the youth, like journalist and municipal councilor Abdullah Asoor, and prominent sportswoman Ruqayah al-Ghasrah.
Ruqayah al-Ghasrah is a well-known sportswoman, with a background in championship running at national and international levels. Ruqayah said that sportsmen and women were particularly suited for political office because of their dedication and tenacity. She even speculated about establishing a sportspeople’s bloc in Parliament for addressing issues for the youth and Bahrain’s sporting challenges. She called on women’s NGOs to do more to support and promote female candidates.
Municipal councilor & journalist Abdullah Ashoor has emphasized that for him Bahrainisation is an utmost priority in order to address unemployment and improve local living standards. He urged that Bahrainization become a national project which all levels of the nation’s administration had a responsibility for implementing. He noted that for the local district there are a large number of pending issues related to services which require legislative support. Ashoor said that as a municipal councilor he had found the lack of powers at a municipal level very frustrating. Thus as an MP he would work to strengthen the role of municipal councilors.
Abduljalil Salman has said that he will focus on improving standards of living, along with legislation to strengthen the process of Bahrainisation. He mentioned that he had participated in previous rounds of elections, but said that his chances were greatly improved this time.
Local businessman (in the pottery trade) Hameed Abdulridha complained that the constituency was in desperate need of improved services and amenities, “but the current deputy has done nothing for us. What happens is that each deputy tries their luck at our expense”, Abdulridha mentioned that he has legal qualifications. He mentioned that he had put his name forward as a candidate in the past, but that certain people had pressured him to withdraw.
Areas covered: Al-Qurayah, Janabiyah, Buri, Hamalah, Dumistan
Number of candidates: 9
Likelihood of going to second round: 60%
Housing blocks: 545, 547, 549, 551, 571, 575, 577, 579, 752, 754, 756, 758, 760, 762, 1012, 1014, 1019, 1012, 1014, 1019, 1022
2014 registered voters: 10,245
2014 percentage 1st round voter turnout: 15.1%
2014 first round vote: Majid al-Majid – 366 (28.6%); Mohammed Bin-Rajab – 199 (15.6%); Munir Ibrahim – 193 (15.1%); Ahmed Hassan – 109 (8.5%);Ali Sakran – 104; Majid Ibrahim – 101; Abduljalil al-Aali – 90; Jamil Abbas – 75; Ali Makki – 41
Second round vote: Majid al-Majid – 489 (55.5%); Mohammed Bin-Rajab – 392 (44.5%)
The 7th Northern district is a demographically diverse district, ranging from localities with a largely middle-class loyalist population like Janabiya and Hamala; to areas like Dumistan and Al-Qurrayah which are predominantly Shia and contain elements supportive of the opposition.
However, the Shia demographic shouldn’t be equated with opposition support. Many of the older families like Asfour, Aali and Bin-Rajab are loyalist in orientation and will vote for candidates who are seen to be “one of them”. Ajam communities, of Iranian origin, also tend to stand apart from Al-Wefaq with their own clergy and affiliations. This is a large and geographically disbursed district featuring a diverse range of communities, making it difficult for candidates to reach out to everyone.
Hence the confusion of certain candidates who are respectively positioning themselves to gain pro-opposition votes, middle-class votes, or the support of traditional elites. A 2014 Al-Watan survey of the views of local constituents found a widespread determine to vote “for the sake of the nation”, but a general disappointment with the past performance of parliamentary representatives and an emphasis on the familiar issues of housing, wage levels, unemployment and services.
Prior to 2014, Shia cleric Majid al-Majid, a former leading figure from the Shirazi Amal movement, had previously contested the elections. Given that Amal had been a key element of the opposition, the 2014 win for Majid as seen as a sign that some local people were losing patience with the boycott. Consequently, numbers of voters and voting patterns will be watched closely in 2018 for this constituency which encompasses a number of Shia-majority towns.
With MP Majid al-Majid standing down, it’s difficult to see who of the nine existing candidates have the strongest prospects. Ali al-Sakran, Munir Soroor, and Majid Adib all participated in 2014. However, with only around 15% of registered constituents casting their ballots, all three got less than 200 votes.
New candidates like Fathi al-Alawi, Latifa al-Meer and Majid al-Hashim have been notably active in getting their ideas and priorities across through the media as the 2018 campaign gathered momentum.
Fathi al-Alawi is described by the media as a businessman and youth activist. He said that his absolute priority as a deputy would be to combat unemployment, suggesting the prospect of establishing a training centre focused on developing vocational skills. Alawi criticized the phenomenon of well-connected Bahrainis “inheriting” political roles because of their family background, stating that Parliament was in need of “new blood”.
Latifa Al Meer
Meer’s campaign slogan is: “We support change and giving responsibility to the youth”. Among her priorities Latifa said that she wanted to empower women for taking increased decision-making roles. She has stressed the importance of investment in innovation and technology, stating that a knowledge economy serves all citizens. She mentioned her qualifications in administration, engineering and experience of voluntary work.
Muneer Ibrahim Soroor is a training consultant. He has stressed the need for skilled and experienced deputies to address the nation’s many challenges. He said that he wanted to address the housing issue, along with supporting culture and tourism. Soroor’s 2014 campaign literature included the slogan “Our rights are our slogan”. Munir came third place in 2014, with 15% of the vote.
Majid al-Hashim has strongly criticized the “very weak” performance of the 2014 Parliament, saying that it hadn’t addressed the most basic demands of citizens. Hashim said that the coming Parliament required expert economists and figures with a legal background to address the country’s significant financial and economic challenges and revise existing legislation. He said that his priorities as a deputy would be focused on the economy and addressing challenges like inflation, while stimulating job creation and improving housing provision.
In 2018 Sakran announced that his priority would be increasing the proportion of Bahrainis in the workforce, noting that he wanted to support initiatives and investment for supporting this agenda. Sakran’s 2014 campaign slogan was: “Together towards a better future”. Ali gained 104 votes in 2014.
Majid obtained little media coverage in the 2014 campaign, a few of his posters appeared around the area. He gained 101 votes in 2014.
Areas covered: Hamad Town
Number of candidates: 5
Likelihood of going to second round: 70%
Housing blocks: 1206, 1204, 1203, 1016
2014 registered voters: 8,521
2014 percentage 1st round voter turnout: 71.9%
2014 first round vote: Isa Turki – 2158 (36.9%); Adel al-Dhawadi (Minbar) – 1848 (31.6%); Jassim Hijris – 1352 (23.1%); Maryam al-Mahrous – 344; Badr al-Dossary – 143
2014 second round vote: Isa Turki – 3101 (58.5%); Adel al-Dhawadi (Minbar) – 2202 (41.5%)
Hamad Town is a sprawling working-class region of Bahrain that expanded significantly over recent decades. The mixed population and changes to constituency boundaries make election results difficult to predict. People will be looking for deputies who can make credible promises for improving services, housing provision and jobs. Islamic candidates have tended to perform well.
Isa Turki in 2014 fought a campaign which failed to get much attention at the national level, and so caught many by surprise when he won both the first and second round of the vote. In Parliament he has tended to be a low-key figure, but has wielded influence as the head of the National Accord parliamentary bloc. In this constituency, Turki is the only candidate returning to the race after the 2014 contest, so it remains to be seen who his fiercest contestants will prove to be. As the local campaign got underway, Turki was keeping a characteristically low profile in the media, although NUG candidate Abdullah al-Dhawadi was stepping up his campaign, and municipal councilor Mohammed Abulshouk (also affiliated with the NUG) was also indicating that he is a candidate worth watching.
Isa Turki – Incumbent MP
As an MP in the 2014 Parliament Turki often supported measures looking to ease the financial burden on Bahrainis. For example, in mid-2015 he proposed halting the 1% unemployment insurance payments made from the wages of Bahraini workers. Around the same time he also tabled a proposal for deferral of payment of home loans for two months to allow for financial hardship.
Turki is comfortable addressing issues related to employment, career opportunities for Bahrainis and labour rights. He has also associated himself with the Palestine issue. Turki voted in favour of the State Budget during the 2 July 2015 parliamentary session.
Over summer 2015, Turki was at the centre of negotiations for forming a parliamentary bloc, mainly consisting of Sunni loyalist figures. Instead of giving rise to a single broad-based bloc, these efforts produced two groupings: The Bahrain National Bloc and the Accord Bloc – the latter headed by Turki. Turki emphasized that the core priorities of his new Bloc were strengthening parliamentary monitoring tools, in particular the powers for interrogating ministers; and maintaining standards of living in the context of subsidy reform.
Al-Turki told Al-Watan newspaper that the high number of candidates in the 2014 elections was an indication of the “climate of democracy in Bahrain based on respect for individual freedoms along with the increasing momentum of political progress”. He criticized the failure of political societies for failing to agree on unified lists, saying that this was “evidence that their approach was based on blind loyalty, not on competence or skills”. @isa_turki
Abdullah al-Dhawadi (NUG)
Dr. Abdullah al-Dhawadi is identified as representing the National Unity Gathering (NUG) and the media mentions his background as a communications specialist. From early on in the 2018 campaign he has been one of the most visible and active candidates via the national media. He has stressed the need for a “clear vision” in the Government’s new action plan for addressing financial and economic challenges. He stressed the need for a balanced approach; bringing spending under control, while not harming the interests of citizens.
Mohammed Abulshouk is a local municipal councilor. In 2014 he represented the National Unity Gathering in the municipal elections, although in 2018 he is standing as an independent. Abulshouk has been critical of those standing for political office who he considered to be unqualified.
Promotional material identifies Khalid al-Manaseer as being a member of the Civil Society for National Unity.
Areas covered: Hamad Town
Number of candidates: 8
Likelihood of going to second round: 70%
Housing blocks: 1210, 1209, 1207, 1205
2014 registered voters: 12,315
2014 percentage 1st round voter turnout: 40.5%
2014 first round vote: Hassan al-Alawi – 1091 (23.5%); Abdulhamid al-Najjar – 1061 (22.9%); Yousif Zainal – 952 (20.5%); Abdullah Tarrar – 536 (11.6%); M. Baqer – 421 (9.1%); Ahmed Arad (NUG) – 258 (5.6%); Mahmoud Abdulrahman – 177; Ahmed al-Qahiri – 86; Ahmed Yousif – 52
Second round vote: Abdulhamid Abdulhussain al-Najjar – 1977 (56.1%); Hassan al-Alawi – 1546 (43.9%)
Hamad Town is a demographically mixed conurbation. The majority of voters in the 9th District can be expected to back a Sunni loyalist candidate. However, the diversity of the candidates reflects the presence of Bahrani and Ajam Shia communities, who could influence the vote if they turned out in large numbers. In both the 2014 and 2018 elections Shia clerical figures participated.
In 2014 Abdulhamid al-Najjar saw off Hassan al-Alawi in the second round, winning 1977 and 1546 votes respectively – although Alawi had narrowly beaten Najjar in the first round. In third place was MP from the 2002 Parliament Yousif Zainal. All three figures have returned for the 2018 contest, among a smattering of newer faces. Najjar has not been one of the more visible MPs in the 2014 Parliament, so he may face a vigourous challenge from rivals seeking to capitalize on a public desire for change.
Abdulhameed al-Najjar – Incumbent MP
As an MP in the 2014 Parliament, Al-Najjar has spoken out on behalf of people from his Hamad Town constituency, demonstrating a concern for a wide range of local issues. However, in open parliamentary sessions he is one of the less prominent voices.
Al-Najjar said he had received offers from several political societies to participate on their lists, but declined, “fearing that this would diminish my chances”.
Abdulhamid al-Najjar at an early stage said he had centred his campaign around the theme of fighting “moral corruption”. However, he has since been vocal about the need to improve the performance of local authorities and better allocation of public funds.
In the 2011 by-election Al-Asalah’s Khalid al-Maloud narrowly won in the second round against Al-Najjar, proving what a strong contender Al-Najjar is. @aaa_alnajar
Yousif Zainal – MP from 2002 Parliament
Lawyer, Yousif Zainal, an MP in the 2002 Parliament has emphasized the need for more MPs with a technocratic background. He said that the 2014 Parliament had been weak resulting in citizens losing a high proportion of the benefits due to them in the last four years. Zainal in 2014 emphasized his commitment to supporting the King’s reform programme. He said that “political development” came first, followed by “economic development”. He said that his relationship with local constituents remained strong. Zainal criticized his opponents for lacking the necessary skills and experience for Parliament.
Zainal was defeated in 2006 with 850 votes (his opponent got 4874) and he came third in 2010 with 1120 votes, behind Mohammed al-Ammadi and Jamal Dawoud. In 2014 he again came third place with just over 20% of the vote. In 2018 his elections tent offered consultancy services to widows, divorcees and victims of violence.
Hassan Mohammed al-Alawi
Al-Alawi is a local cleric. He has been sharply critical about the availability of services in Hamad Town, saying that local constituents felt forgotten. In particular he called for improved provision of health services.
His promotional material includes the slogan “together for a better future”. He is to prioritize efforts to increase standards of living. In 2014 he beat Abdulhamid al-Najjar in the first round of voting, winning 23.5% of the vote. However, Najjar won in the second round.
Abdulhameed Abdulghaffar is an expert economist. Abdulghaffar has said that he will prioritize cultivating a sense of unity and national loyalty in Bahrain, while blocking calls to boycott the elections. He added that he would play a role in supporting development projects to reduce unemployment.
Areas covered: Hamad Town
Number of candidates: 8
Likelihood of going to second round: 85%
Housing blocks: 1218, 1214, 1212, 1208
2014 registered voters: 10,552
2014 percentage 1st round voter turnout: 73.5%
2014 first round vote: Mohammed al-Ammadi – 3643 (49.1%); Khalid al-Maloud (MP Asalah) – 2138 (28.8%); Sima al-Lengawi (NUG) – 798 (10.8%); Hisham Rabeah – 334 (4.5%); Saad Sultan – 317; Abdulqadir Abduljalil – 137; Khalid al-Zubari – 57
Second round vote: Mohammed al-Ammadi (MP Minbar) – 4551 66.7%); Khalid al-Maloud (MP Asalah) – 2275 (33.3%)
The 10th Northern constituency is a long, narrow strip running north to south through densely-populated Hamad Town. Working-class families experiencing growing costs of living and struggling with issues of housing and service provision will be looking for candidates who can deliver on their promises.
In the 10th Northern district boundary changes prior to the 2014 contest pitted two Sunni Islamist sitting MPs against each other; Khalid al-Maloud from Al-Asalah against Mohammed al-Ammadi, along with a candidate from the National Unity Gathering. In the event, Ammadi won convincingly with around 67% of the vote.
Out of all MPs in the 2014 Parliament, Ammadi is seen as an outspoken figure who is willing to take on ministers over public spending issues. It will thus be interesting to see whether Ammadi succeeds in weathering the prevailing anti-parliamentary mood found in many constituencies in 2018. If Ammadi fails to win commandingly, it remains to be seen who out of a crop of relative political newcomers, can gain sufficient attention and votes to go head-to-head with Ammadi in a possible second round.
Mohammed al-Ammadi – Incumbent MP (Minbar)
Al-Ammadi is an assertive and outspoken MP who, as one of the few survivors from the previous Parliament – is a widely respected voice. Al-Ammadi is an active user of the social media.
Al-Ammadi is the only representative from the pro-Muslim Brotherhood Al-Minbar political society. However, he has been less visibly active on religious issues than many others in the Parliament, preferring to be seen speaking out of issues of tangible concern to constituents like education and housing.
In October 2015 it was announced that Al-Ammadi was joining the Bahrain National Bloc, along with a number of other Sunni MPs.
On several occasions Al-Ammadi has been more than willing to speak and act against the political establishment on populist issues, such as reducing the privileges of Government officials and parliamentarians and demanding action against corrupt officials. In September 2015, Al-Ammadi was among a number of MPs calling for action to ensure preference of Bahraini companies in public sector tendering processes.
Al-Ammadi is one of a shrinking number of MPs who has been consistently and outspokenly opposed to increases in Government borrowing, noting the dangers of high levels of debt.
Ammadi criticized the fact that former ministers could not be summoned for interrogation by MPs and was one of the co-sponsors of a bill proposing simplifications to the interrogation procedure.
Ammadi in May 2015 proposed that MPs have the power to interrogate ministers concerning issues related to the tenure of their predecessors. His proposal noted that current provisions “obstruct the activity of deputies in their constitutional right to interrogate ministers”.
Ammadi in 2014 said that his society’s campaign will focus on how public funds are spent. Ammadi stressed that Al-Minbar had a unified campaign which would focus on the economy, infrastructure and improving standards of living. He stressed that in his own constituency he wanted to address the issue of service provision, particularly improving access to local health centres and power supply.
Ammadi said that a major reason for youths being involved in acts of vandalism and militancy was a lack of facilities. He called for investment in activities for young people in Hamad Town.
Hisham Ali Rabeah
Rabeah is described in the media as a businessman and social activist. He has been somewhat more visible in 2018 so far than during his 2014 contest. Rabeah said he hoped to see “new blood” in Parliament in order to restore citizens’ trust, while avoiding the pitfalls encountered by previous candidates. He said that he wanted to prioritize unemployment through initiatives such as improved training opportunities.
Jameel Mulla Hassan
Bakri expressed his hope to see more young people in Parliament, while pledging to address unemployment through creating more training opportunities and available employment positions.
Areas covered: Hamad Town, Dar Kulayb
Number of candidates: 4
Likelihood of going to second round: 60%
Housing blocks: 1216, 1215, 1213, 1211, 1046
2014 registered voters: 12,341
2014 percentage 1st round voter turnout: 43.7%; Contest decided by outright win in the first round of voting.
2014 first round vote: Jamal Dawoud – 3097 (61.67%); Mohammed Buqais (MP) – 582 (11.6%); Jaffar al-Hamiri – 493 (9.8%); Ali al-Fadhli – 435 (8.7%); Thamir al-Qaran – 415 (8.3%)
The Hamad Town constituencies have relatively high numbers of registered voters and 11th Northern is demographically the second largest constituency in Bahrain in terms of registered voters. The inclusion of the Shia-majority Dar Kulayb locality as a result of the 2104 constituency boundary changes could in the future allow for a more diverse pattern of representation, although the opposition boycott in 2014 suppressed possibilities of this and once again in 2018, the vote looks to be dominated by conservative and Islamic Sunni figures.
In this southern end of Hamad Town with a diverse demographic, the incumbent MP, Mohammed Buqais – who won his seat from Al-Wefaq in the 2011 by-election – in 2014 faced-off against three independent figures. Both Buqais and Jamal Dawoud proved in the 2011 vote that they could bring out significant numbers of supporters. It was obvious that Jamal was a front-runner in 2014, but it wasn’t obvious how convincingly he would beat MP Mohammed Buqais in the first round. Buqais’s failure could be seen as a symptom of public frustration with the performance of the previous Parliament, although some observers claimed that perhaps Buqais personally alienated many local people.
Jamal Dawoud has been an active and conscientious MP, while Mohammed Buhamoud, head of the Northern Governorate Municipal Council, is another prominent local figure. Ali al-Fadhli has been strongly critical or the performance of existing deputies.
Jamal Dawoud – Incumbent MP
As an MP, Dawoud has addressed a remarkably broad range of issues which concern him; ranging from fishing, security and municipal services to food standards, youth activities and foreign workers. After a year serving as Chairman of the Public Utilities Committee, Dawoud stood down in October 2015 and relocated to the Legal Committee.
However, his conservative instincts are also clear for several of the issues he raises. During summer 2015 Dawoud was prominent across the media calling for foreign transvestite workers to be deported from Bahrain, because of the harm such practices could do to the Bahraini culture. Dawoud has been one of the more outspoken figures calling for implementation of the death penalty in those found guilty of acts of terrorism.
He is one of the more effective MPs at public engagement, holding majils sessions with constituents and meeting delegations from local trade, in particular fishing. Dawoud has proved to be a consistent advocate for the fishing industry, regularly meeting those involved with fisheries and taking a keen interest in the preservation of fish stocks and protecting local fishermen.
Throughout 2015, Dawoud’s role in the committee investigating imports of meat unfit for consumption has been a platform for his concerns about enforcing food standards. This has given rise to a number of proposals and initiatives, including regulation of street vendors, raising public awareness about the risks of fast food, subsidizing meat products for Bahrainis and setting up a central authority for monitoring food standards.
Throughout the first half of 2015, Dawoud continued to advocate his proposal for a motoring track for young people to develop their driving skills in a safe environment, avoiding dangerous stunts being performed on roads and allowing young people to channel their energies.
November 2014 was Jamal Daoud’s breakthrough moment; having performed strongly but failed to win in both the 2006 and 2010 elections. With 62% of the first round vote allowing Jamal to win outright, this was the third highest score across all of Bahrain.
Jamal denied 2-14 media reports that he had received support from the Salafist Al-Asalah in the previous round of elections. However, he refused to speculate about whether he would work with any specific political grouping if he won the seat. Dawoud came second in 2006 with 2,841 votes and gained 2,283 votes in 2010, but was comfortably beaten by Mohammed al-Ammadi.
Dawoud told Al-Watan in 2014: “It was a particular segment of Bahraini society that made it into the previous Parliament. Society must alter its thinking in order to bring in new faces to bring about change”. Jamal denied media reports that he had received support from the Salafist Al-Asalah in the previous round of elections. However, he refused to speculate about whether he would work with any specific political grouping if he won the seat. Dawoud came second in 2006 with 2841 votes and gained 2283 votes in 2010, but was comfortably beaten by Mohammed al-Ammadi.
Buhamoud is head of the Northern Governorate Municipal Council. In the 2018 contest he called on local people to draft his electoral platform for him, even providing blank proposal forms which they could fill in.
Ali Salim al-Fadhli
Fadhli in 2018 criticized the previous Parliament for becoming a forum for personal rivals and failing to establish strong blocs in order to address local concerns. Fadhli said that the role of incoming deputies would be overcoming the mistakes and shortcomings of their predecessors, whike restoring public trust.
Al-Fadhil, participating for the first time in 2014, said that his vision for “content citizens” focused on three areas: “The nation, the citizen and women”. He wanted to prioritize housing, education, increasing wages and the role of women.
Areas covered: Dumistan, Luzi, Karzakan, Malikiyah, Sadad, Shahrakan, Safariyah
Number of candidates: 10
Likelihood of going to second round: 85%
Housing blocks: 1017, 1018, 1020, 1025, 1026, 1027, 1028, 1032, 1033, 1034, 1037, 1038, 1041, 1042, 1044
2014 registered voters: 11,323
2014 percentage 1st round voter turnout: 21.7%
2014 first round vote: Jamila al-Sammak – 963 (46.5%); Ammad al-Sayed – 315 (15.2%); Khalid Abdulaal (MP) – 287 (13.9%); Abdulrazzaq Fardan – 245 (11.8%); Ali Baqer – 150; Ali Fardan – 111
Second round vote: Jamila al-Sammak – 1158 (71.3%) Ammad al-Sayed – 467 (28.7%)
Many localities in this district half-way down Bahrain’s west coast witnessed sporadic rioting in the years after 2011 years, so in 2014 certain elements supported the boycott. Nevertheless, voter turnout was higher than in other Northern Governorate opposition strongholds. The population in this district is diverse, sometimes resulting in unexpected electoral outcomes.
MP Khalid Abdulaal only narrowly won his seat in 2011 with 51% of the vote in the second round against Ali Fardan. However in 2014 Abdulaal was beaten into third place by Ali Fardan and ultimately successful candidate Dr. Jamila al-Sammak. With Sammak out of the contest, a number of candidates have sought to promote themselves in the media and at a local level, such as Iyad Jabir, Maryam Madan and Adel Abdulaal, although it is difficult to judge who holds the advantage in this habitually unpredictable contest.
Ali Fardan Mohammed Fardan
Ali Fardan lost to Abdulaal in 2011, gaining 319 votes to Abdulaal’s 335. Ali Fardan also failed to win a seat in the 2010 municipal elections. Fardan in his public statements has talked somewhat vaguely about reform and social justice. In 2014 Fardan was beaten convincingly in the first and second round by Jamila al-Sammak.
Madan’s electoral slogan is “justice is the basis for the development and flourishing of nations”. She stressed the necessity of building a society rooted in democracy, justice, and equality; while rejecting sectarianism, racism, tribalism and favouritism. She argued that local people hadn’t benefitted sufficiently from nearby housing projects, which had sometimes been made available to people from outside the area, yet MPs had failed to raise such issues. She argued that young people needed to be better represented in Parliament.
Khayyat is a local municipal councilor. When asked about his priorities, he said that he would “follow all the issues which concerned citizens”.
Dr, Adel Abdulaal has stressed the central role that MPs must play in improving standards of living for the public and fulfilling their responsibility of serving the public. He added that providing a good life for citizens is a cornerstone for every country.
Mahmood al-Bahrani has promised if elected to devote his energies to reviewing and promoting Bahrainisation, while also reviewing recent subsidy reforms to avoid negatively impacting citizens. He said that it was wrong to criticize previous MPs without putting forward credible policy alternatives.
Jabir is a former municipal councilor (formerly based in the Central Governorate) who is an engineer by trade. He promised to address issues like investment and tourism, as well as pushing for reforms for the retirement fund. Jabir has also pledged to reduce electricity costs and make renewable energy more widely available, while also reducing poverty.