Areas covered: Isa Town
Number of candidates: 7
Likelihood of going to second round: 75%
Housing blocks: 718, 720, 801, 802, 803, 804, 805, 806, 807, 808, 810
2014 registered voters: 7,998
2014 percentage 1st round voter turnout: 71.3%
2014 second round vote: Khalid al-Shaer – 3281 (67.8%); Adnan al-Maliki (MP Asalah) – 1559 (32.2%)
First round votes: Khalid al-Shaer – 1797 (33.1%); Adnan al-Maliki (MP Asalah) – 1198 (22.1%); Ahmed al-Amer – 984 (18.5%); Khalid al-Qattan (Minbar) – 775 (14.3%); Jehan Mohammed (NUG) – 300 (5.5%); Jaffar al-Kharaz – 140; Abdulrahman Abdullah – 85; Salman al-Shaikh (MP) – 69; Anwar Qambar – 43; Abdulghani al-Haiki – 31
Moderate independent candidates have tended to perform well in this central area of Bahrain. However, the first round of the 2014 contest was distinguished by being a three-way battle between three prominent Sunni/loyalist political societies: Al-Asalah, Al-Minbar and the National Unity Gathering. The convincing win 2014 for young, progressive candidate Khalid al-Shaer will have left the societies wishing they had made more effort to coordinate their campaigns and avoid splitting the vote. The 2018 elections is once again a mixture of Islamist figures and youthful or mainstream candidates.
In 2014 this was by far one of the most competitive and fiercely fought constituencies Incumbent MP, Adnan al-Maliki from the Salafist Al-Asalah was forced to compete against two other Sunni groupings, Al-Minbar al-Islami and the National Unity Gathering; along with numerous independent candidates.
Maliki in 2014 fought a visible and bullish campaign, with large billboards and a staunch defence of his parliamentary record. Khalid al-Shaer also proved himself to be a strong contender and his experience in fighting previous rounds of elections showed through. With Al-Ahmed out of the race and Adnan al-Maliki back seeking to regain his constituency, this will once again be an interesting contest.
Maliki, with his Islamist credentials, is a popular, but somewhat divisive figure. Thus the secret to winning this contest may largely depend on which of the other independent candidates succeed in capturing enough attention and support to take Maliki on in the second round. Anwar Qambar and Ahmed al-Amer have returned to the fray after unsuccessfully attempting to win the seat in 2014. Amer won third place in 2014.
Adnan Mohammed Halal Ali al-Maliki – Incumbent MP (Asalah)
Maliki in 2018 said that local people had asked him to stand after losing confidence in the weak performance of the previous Parliament. He stated that the coming parliament must be strong and confident in using its powers in order to regain pubic confidence. Al-Maliki in 2014 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. @ALMALIKIADNAN
Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Saad al-Amer
Amer in 2018 is turning out to be an increasingly visible candidate. He has stressed that the economy is his priority, calling for greater efforts to develop the resources of the financial and tourism sectors which he observed were the foundations of Bahrain’s future financial wellbeing. Amer gained a respectable 18.5% of the vote in 2014 (984 votes), in a highly competitive contest, thus taking third place behind Maliki and Shaer. Al-Amer is an administrative official for a bank. In 2014 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
Qambar won just 43 votes in 2014 and from the outset was seen as one of the less visible and competitive candidates. Qambar’s 2014 electoral material included the slogan “the national interest should come ahead of any other consideration”.
Mohammed Abdullah al-Matar
Mohammed al-Matar stressed that his priorities included unemployment and improving living standards. He noted local frustrations with the performance of the current Parliament.
Duaij al-Dhawadistressed that his prospects of victory were strong given his local upbringing and his background in voluntary and religious activity. He also stressed his strong educational background in religious studies and administration. Among his priorities he mentioned addressing concerns of local people, protecting their benefits and ensuring improved conditions for the elderly.
Areas covered: Isa Town, Zayid Town
Number of candidates: 5
Likelihood of going to second round: 85%
Housing blocks: 809, 812, 813, 814, 840, 841
2014 registered voters: 8,212
2014 percentage 1st round voter turnout: 70.5%
2014 first round votes: Mohammed al-Ahmed – 1519 (27.4%); Isa al-Qadhi (MP) – 1169 (21.1%); Faydh al-Sharqawi – 1012 (18.3%); Yaqoub Nassim – 983 (17.8%); Abdulaziz Matar – 317 (5.7%); Mohammed al-Dhawadi – 274; Ahmed Matar – 173; Ahmed al-Murbati – 90
Second round vote:Mohammed al-Ahmed – 3163 (66.3%); Isa al-Qadhi (MP) – 1608 (33.7%)
The working-class conurbationsof 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. Consequently, in 2018 for the second year running, all candidates appear to be standing as independents.
In 2014 young journalist Mohammed al-Ahmed achieved a remarkable second round victory over incumbent MP Isa al-Qadhi, with Al-Ahmed winning over 66% of the vote and coming out with around 1500 more votes than his rival. Nationally, Ahmed was one of the most visible candidates, using his understanding of the media and communications tools to reach a wide audience and engage his local constituents. One of his promotional posters cited his priorities as “Standard of living… then standard of living… then standard of living”.
During the 2014 contest, incumbent MP Isa al-Qadhi had faced criticism from other candidates and members of the public for his performance as an MP and fought a somewhat lacklustre campaign. In a contest with many colourful and optimistic-sounding candidates, the small amounts of media coverage Isa al-Qadhi gained tended to strike an unfortunately negative note. The 2018 contest looks set to be a rematch between these two parliamentarians, with the other three contestants needing to work hard to distinguish themselves.
Mohammed Salman Mohammed Saleh al-Ahmed
Al-Ahmed has been by far one of the most outspoken MPs in the 2014 Parliament. For example, he urged rejection of the 2015-16 State Budget, which he criticized on a wide number of grounds. Al-Ahmed is one of the most effective parliamentary users of the social media and is confident in engaging with journalists. During the 2014 elections campaign Al-Ahmed was one of the most systematic candidates in setting out his elections platform, using the social media and waging an effective campaign.
Al-Ahmed has also shown himself to be active in regularly meeting local constituents. For example, in a large 11 March 2015 public meeting with residents of Isa Town, he brought senior figures from the Parliament along with him to discuss local concerns. Al-Ahmed has been consistent in raising issues of local concern like housing and services with ministers.
However, Al-Ahmed established himself as something of a trouble-maker in Parliament in his early months as an MP. Al-Ahmed was reproved by the Parliament Chairman for raising points of order that had little to do with the agenda and on at least one occasion was at the centre of a walkout in February 2015. A subsequent statement accusing the Parliament Chairman of deals behind the scenes earned Al-Ahmed sharp rebukes from other MPs. Al-Ahmed was one of the most vocal advocates of the failed bid to summon the Health Minister for interrogation over issues raised in the Financial Audit Bureau Report.
However, during debates around the Financial Audit Bureau report and other public finance issues Al-Ahmed appeared to be maturing as an MP ready and willing to take a tough stance on wastage of public spending and keen to fulfill his public mandate for holding government departments to account. His parliamentary interventions often quote data and statistics to inform the debate. Al-Ahmed caused a media storm on 7 March when he claimed that the Financial Audit Bureau report revealed the wastage of 400 million BD of public money (just over $1bn).
In his opposition to the Budget and several other of his controversial positions, Al-Ahmed has often formed tactical alliances with Islamist MPs, such as those figures affiliated with Al-Asalah. However, in October 2015 it was reported that Al-Ahmed would be joining the Bahrain National Bloc, along with several other middle-ground Sunni MPs.
During the 14 October 2015 election for membership of committees, Al-Ahmed won 35 votes for membership of the Finance Committee. A strong vote of confidence when former Chairman Isa al-Kooheji was knocked out of the Committee with only 10 votes.
Ahmed during the 2014 campaign was 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. @MohamedAlAhmed
Isa Ali Jamal al-Qadhi – Former MP
Al-Qadhi is an independent candidate, who was an MP up to 2014 after winning his seat in a second-round run-off in 2010. Al-Qadhi in 2014 comments to Al-Wasat newspaper accused many candidates of simply participating for “financial motives”, saying that the large number of candidates in this elections was a negative phenomenon. @isaalqadhi
Retired colonel Al-Zayani during the 2014 contest was highly critical of other candidates and the performance of the former Parliament. He has been described in the media as a social activist. He said that he wasn’t looking for high positions and glory “like some of those deputies who care about nothing other than that, ignoring the public interest and serving citizens”. Al-Zayani questioned whether other heavyweight candidates had been compelled to sit the mandatory tests to check their reading and writing skills. Nevertheless, Zayani dropped out of the 2014 contest prior to the vote. Once again in 2018, Zayani declared that he was standing because of his disappointment with candidates who had already entered the contest.
Areas covered: North Riffa, Hajiat
Number of candidates: 3
Likelihood of going to second round: 35%
Housing blocks: 922, 933, 934, 935, 937, 941
2014 registered voters: 7,227
2014 percentage 1st round voter turnout: 84.3%. Contest decided by outright win in the first round of voting.
2014 first round votes:Abdulhalim Murad (MP Asalah) – 2,964 (63.4%); Mohammed al-Housani – 841 (14.4%); Naji al-Dossary – 630 (10.7%); Hassan al-Ali – 331 (5.7%); Abdullah al-Hajji – 303; Mohammed al-Maloud – 40
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, the 84% turnout in 2014 indicated the success of the candidates in engaging all the local demographics, including encouraging younger voters to come out in large numbers.
MP Abdulhalim al-Murad, representing the Salafist society Asalah, was a dominant figure in this constituency since winning the seat in 2006. He has decided to step down as of 2018. As the second-place candidate in 2014, Mohammed al-Housani could perhaps be a strong contender. However, as head of the Southern Governorate Municipal Council, Ahmed al-Ansari, has the strong local profile and a record of winning elections. Ansari represents Asalah, while Housani represents the National Unity Gathering. An Al-Watan newspaper commentary noted that Adel al-Yahya’s chances may be strong as the only independent candidate, given many people’s frustration with political societies.
Ahmed al-Ansari (Asalah)
Ansari is head of the Southern Governorate Municipal Council. He said that as an MP he would make use of his relations with officials and understanding of local concerns. Ansari represents the Salafist society, Asalah. Ansari has promised to prioritize the goal of establishing a new public hospital in the Southern Governorate.
Dr Mohammed Yousif Ahmed Rashid al-Housani (NUG)
Housani in 2014 came second place with 14.4% of the vote. Al-Housani was a member of the pro-Muslim Brotherhood Al-Minbar al-Islami, but stood in 2014 as an independent candidate. However, in 2018 he will reportedly be standing as a National Unity Gathering candidate. In 2014 he stressed that he would focus on “improving the lives of citizens and strengthening their sense of belonging to the nation and their loyalty to the leadership,” while also working to preserve the public’s existing rights and benefits. In 2018 Housani said that the public and politicians had to work together and unify efforts and policies in order to overcome the challenges which Bahrain faces. @M_alhosany
Yahya said that he would prioritize promoting the economy and working with the Government to address the national debt. He has called for the Constitutional Court to look into proposals to reform the pension law in order to assess its constitutionality. An Al-Watan newspaper commentary noted that Adel al-Yahya’s chances may be strong as the only independent candidate, given many people’s frustration with political societies.
Areas covered: Nuwaidrat, Sanad, Hajiat
Number of candidates: 12
Likelihood of going to second round: 95%
Housing blocks: 643, 645, 646, 929, 931, 939
2014 registered voters: 8,589
2014 percentage 1st round voter turnout: 79.3%
2014 First round votes: Mohammed al-Maarifi – 2656 (41.0%); Abdulhamid al-Shaikh – 1824 (28.2); Ibrahim al-Mannai – 772 (11.9%); Nabil al-Musaifar – 515 (8.0%); Abdulrahman Abdulkarim – 385; Ashraf al-Assar – 216; Faisal al-Bufalah – 110
Second round vote: Mohammed al-Maarifi – 2938 (50.8%), Abdulhamid al-Shaikh – 2847 (49.2%)
This is a mixed – opposition/loyalist Sunni/Shia – constituency and a product of 2014 boundary changes and the abolition of the Central Governorate. Nuwaidrat and Sanad are traditionally Shia, but many of the other areas are Sunni or mixed. A 2014 turnout of 80% was very impressive.
This is a highly crowded contest in 2018 with a large number of relative unknowns competing against high-profile incumbent MP Mohammed al-Maarafi and former MP Ali Ahmed. Businessman Maarifi was an assertive voice in Parliament, but may suffer from a popular perception that the 2014 Parliament hasn’t lived up to expectations. Ali Ahmed hails from the Salafist Asalah society and served as an MP between 2010 and 2014, but declined to stand in 2014. As a high-profile figure who enjoys strong popularity among Islamist circles Ahmed represents a strong challenger to Maarifi. Civil servant Salman al-Salman is demonstrating himself to be a serious candidate with policy proposals on a range of themes. Out of the other candidates, only Faisal al-Bufalah competed in this constituency in 2014. However, he only went on to win 110 votes, coming last place.
Mohammed Yousif Mohammed al-Maarifi
Businessman Al-Maarifi won a confident elections campaign in 2014 and showed himself to be an assertive parliamentary player. He voted in favour of the State Budget on 2 July 2015. Al-Maarifi was announced in October 2015 as being the Deputy Chairman of the new Accord Bloc, a grouping of five Sunni MPs.
During early 2015 Al-Maarifi spoke out repeatedly against Shura Council proposals for increasing retirement benefits for MPs, saying that such a move put the interests of deputies before their obligation to “serve the nation”. Along with a number of MPs, Al-Maarifi has been vocal in opposing the Health Ministry’s fees on foreign workers, which have usually ended up being paid by Bahraini businesses.
Al-Maarifi has been outspoken in criticizing reporting by foreign human rights organizations regarding the situation in Bahrain. During mid-2015 Al-Maarifi also became more visible speaking out about regional security issues, like Yemen, Syria, Iran and Palestine.
Maarifi in 2014 had been tipped to be representing the National Unity Gathering. However, after not being included on their final list he ran as an independent and wasone of the more visible figures since early on in the contest. Al-Marifi came third in the 2010 elections with 610 votes.
Ali Ahmed Ali Zayid – former MP
Ali Ahmed, from the Salafist Asalah society, served as an MP between 2010 and 2014, but chose not to stand in 2014. He is returning to the fray again in 2018 and as a high-profile figure who enjoys strong popularity among Islamist circles he represents one of the leading contestants in this crowded field. He has stressed Parliament’s oversight role, arguing that fighting corruption preserved the safety of the society. He has also been a consistent supporter of the efforts of the Ministry of the Interior for ensuring public security.
Salman al-Salman is a civil servant and also described by the media as a local activist. He has urged greater collaboration between the various branches of government, stating that negotiations between the government and parliament would lead to agreement and consensus. Salman has also said that he wants to improve standards of healthcare and ensure that all citizens and residents have health insurance. In his initial candidacy statement he declared his desire to play a role in promoting Bahrain regionally and globally. He claims that his electoral platform was based on recommendations put forward by constituents.
Faisal Ibrahim Jabbarah al-Bufalah
Embarking on his 2018 campaign, Bufalah said that a priority for him was following up on measures taken by the government for addressing public debt. Bufalah in the 2014 contest only won 110 votes. Faisal in 2014 told the media that he wanted to focus on reducing prices of certain basic goods and increasing wages. He has also addressed the housing issue, complaining that housing units allotted to citizens were too small. In declaring his candidacy, Bufalah stressed the importance of national unity and strengthening civil freedoms.
Anas Bumutaia is reportedly affiliated with Al-Minbar al-Islami but standing as an independent candidate. He is described as a social activist. His early statements talked vaguely about serving constituents and supporting the King’s reform agenda.
In a media interview Albi said that his chances were strong and he joined the contest after receiving widespread local support. He promised to work hard on behalf of local people if successful, and has called for huge participation in the elections.
Areas covered: West Riffa, Haniniyah, Bukuwarah
Number of candidates: 4
Likelihood of going to second round: 50%
Housing blocks: 901, 903, 905, 910, 925, 927
2014 Registered voters: 8,788
2014 percentage 1st round voter turnout: 85.4%
2014 second round vote: Khalifa al-Ghanim – 3505 (52.1%); Fawzia Zainal – 3217 (47.86%)
First round votes: Khalifa al-Ghanim – 2196 (30.3%); Fawzia Zainal – 2095 (28.9%); Abdulrazzaq al-Hattab (Asalah) – 1774 (24.4%); Adel al-Rowaei – 725 (10.0%); Nayef al-Jassim – 431 (5.9%); Mohammed Qarratah – 37
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 have had to reach out to younger voters, the professional classes and more disenfranchised sections of the electorate.
Boundary changes in 2014 rewrote the rulebook in these areas, forcing candidates to work harder to win over a broader demographic of supporters. The remarkable 2014 first round turnout of over 85% indicated how successful candidates were in mobilizing support and encouraging political engagement.
Khalifa al-Ghanim and Fawzia Zainal faced off against each other in the second round of the 2014 elections with a closely-fought result. It remains to be seen whether these two figures will dominate the 2018 contest yet again.
The success of Khalifa al-Ghanim’s 2014 campaign seemed to be largely down to his ability to reach out to his grassroots support base directly, attending dozens of local meetings and seeking to reach out as widely as possible to constituents. Al-Ghanim received little national media coverage during the contest and his Twitter account gave little away about his policies and priorities. Ghanim denied reports that he was affiliating himself with the Mithaq Society.
On the contrary, his rival contestant, women’s activist Fawzia Zainal, has been constantly in the media during her successive electoral campaigns. She has been one of the more vocal candidates in contest in advocating her policy positions on standards of living, supporting the family and promoting the role of women.In 2014 Ghanim proved the more able candidate in getting supporters out to vote. However, in a climate of public frustration towards sitting MPs, this could be Fawzia’s best chance to date. Young candidate Khalifa al-Yami has also been trying to raise his local profile, although Essam al-Khayyat initially has been less visible.
Few expected Al-Asalah’s Abdulrazzaq al-Hattab to fail to make it into the second round in 2014, particularly as his Asalah teammate Abdulhalim al-Murad won so easily next door in 3rd Southern. Note that registered candidate, municipal councillor Mohammed Mousa al-Balooshi, has withdrawn from the contest, citing his daughter’s illness.
Khalifa Abdullah Mohammed al-Ghanim – Incumbent
Along with several other 2014 MPs from the Southern constituencies, Al-Ghanim is a staunchly loyalist figure, basing his legitimacy on grassroots local popularity, and hesitant to speak out on controversial issues. However, along with the majority of other MPs, he has been outspoken in criticizing the Health Ministry’s new fees for non-Bahraini workers.
Al-Ghanim increasingly found a voice in addressing social issues, such as increasing support for pensioners, addressing drug abuse and regularizing educational qualifications. Al-Ghanim has spoken out about the need to increase social benefits to low income families.
Fawzia Abdullah Yousif Zainal
Fawzia, a women’s activist, has contested numerous rounds of parliamentary elections without yet winning a seat, although she came very close in 2014, gaining around 48% of the ballots in the second round (3217 votes). Fawzia also came second in the 2006 elections with a respectable 2,283 votes.
Since the beginning of the 2018 contest, Zainal has issued a blizzard of statements and media comments. She has said that she will prioritize the needs of the less fortunate in her constituency, while arguing that the dignity of citizens is a right. She has also been critical of the performance of the previous Parliament, stating that fighting is not an indicator of good parliamentary work. Commenting that this was her third attempt to win a seat, she expressed optimism, saying that she believed she could count on the support of more than 3,200 registered voters.
During 2014 statements 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”. Fawzia also said that she put “legal protection for security men and improving their situation” at the top of her priorities. @fawziazainal5
In declaring his candidacy, Yami stressed the importance of supporting young people through legislation, as well as encouraging institutions for promoting Bahrain overseas.Yami has called for a proper media strategy to promote Bahrain’s reputation abroad
Khayyat attended a public meeting where he discussed the dangers of false rumours spread during the election campaigning season. @essamallkhayat
Areas covered: Northern Riffa, Bukuwarah
Number of candidates: 9
Likelihood of going to second round: 75%
Housing blocks: 913, 914, 915, 916, 917, 918, 919, 921, 923
2014 registered voters: 8,262
2014 percentage 1st round voter turnout: 84.0%
2014 second round vote: Anas Buhindi – 3676 (62.8%); Mohammed al-Buainain (Mithaq) – 2178 (37.2%)
First round votes: Anas Buhindi – 2310 (34.7%); Mohammed al-Buainain (Mithaq) – 1040 (15.6%); Ibrahim Fakhro – 943 (14.2%); Nawal al-Dossary – 658 (9.9%); Salah Khalifa – 613 (9.2%); Yousif al-Hamdan – 475; Khalifa al-Dossary – 310; Layla Rajab (Al-Watani al-Hurr) – 179; Abdullah Baqer – 136
One of the big stories of the 2014 elections was the announcement from 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 opened up the field for a broad group of untested candidates, with Salafist cleric Anas Buhindi eventually winning the seat. This is a safe loyalist seat in an area which has tended to prefer independent candidates.
With cleric Anas Buhindi standing down as MP in 2018 and a number of high profile figures entering this constituency to join the contest, this is a somewhat difficult race to predict. Jamal Buhassan is a popular and visible MP, but he was representing a Muharraq constituency in the 2014 Parliament. Islamist candidate Abdulrazzaq al-Hattab fought the 2014 elections on behalf of the Salafist Asalah society in the next-door 5th Southern constituency. Ibrahim al-Mannai is also a relatively well-known figure who entered the constituency after contesting unsuccessfully elsewhere in 2014. Dr. Mohammed al-Kuwaiti is also demonstrating himself to be a candidate who deserves attention. Kuwaiti is reportedly affiliated with the National Unity Gathering.
Jamal Buhassan – MP (representing 3rd Muharraq in 2014 Parliament)
Buhassan in 2014 demonstrated his strong Muharraq support base by winning his seat against numerous other strong candidates. Nevertheless, in 2018 he has relocated to this Southern constituency. As an MP he gained a reputation for speaking out on issues close to the hearts of local people.
The issue of food safety and security is clearly a matter Buhassan feels passionately about. Buhassan’s advocacy on the “rotten meat” issue led to his nomination by parliamentary colleagues as the head of the committee to investigate this issue in early 2015. This Committee was awarded a three month extension to its work in October 2015. Buhassan was one of the fiercest critics of the Government’s proposal to halt meat subsidies, rallying his colleagues behind efforts to thwart the move in mid-2015.
Buhassan’s chairmanship of the Meat Investigation Committee and other parliamentary business may have been behind his decision to step down as Deputy Chairman of the Defence and Foreign Affairs Committee in October 2015, in favour of Mohammed al-Jowder – although Buhassan continued to take an interest in regional and defence issues. In September 2015, along with other MPs, Buhassan warned the public sector tendering processes had allowed foreign companies to monopolize the advertising business and other sectors, and subsequently formed a committee to investigate this issue.
During the 19 May 2015 parliamentary debate on the fishing industry, Buhassan spoke passionately about the importance of the fishing industry for ensuring food security for Bahrain. “This industry supports the economy and we should preserve the industry of our fathers and grandfathers;” he said.
Abdulrazzaq Abdullah Ali al-Hattab (Asalah)
Sunni cleric Al-Hattab, who is standing as a representative for the Salafist Al-Asalah Society, was a candidate in 5th Southern in 2014 where he won 24.4% of the vote and came third place. He was a municipal councilor in the defunct 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”.
Hattab in 2018 said that improving standards of living was the priority for his election campaign. Hattab in 2014 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.
Dr Mohammed al-Kuwaitiis reportedly representing the National Unity Gathering in the 2018 elections. He is a former military colonel and holds a PhD in administrative development. He has played an administrative role in a number of major Bahraini companies including Alba, citing this as valuable experience for a parliamentary role. Kuwaiti has said that he wants to focus on economic development as a route to increasing jobs and public revenues. He argued that enhancing the status of the Parliament is a national interest.
Ibrahim Ahmed Saleh Ahmed al-Mannai
Lawyer Ibrahim al-Mannai in 2014 stood in the 4th Southern constituency and came third place with around 11% of the vote. In his 2014 campaign Mannai pledged to use his skills and experience to “achieve the demands” of local people. In a 2018 statement he called for those with national skills to come forward and compete in order to keep out those seeking personal benefit. He mentioned his desire to close loopholes in parliamentary procedures and the constitution in order to increase the effectiveness of Parliament. @ebrahimalmannai
Mohammed Darwish is Secretary-General of the Mithaq society. He stressed that in the coming parliament he wanted to address the issue of VAT and reducing its negative impact on ordinary Bahrainis.
Nadhim Hashim note the existence of public disappointment in parliamentary performance, noting his aspiration to address issues like housing, wage levels and living standards.
Hamad al-Harbi is a lawyer. Harbi argued that the minimum age for being eligible for serving in Parliament should be 40, given the need for experience. He promised to form a close alliance with the elected municipal councilor to prioritize local issues.
Areas covered: Nuwaidrat, West Riffa, Rawdhah
Number of candidates: 8
Likelihood of going to second round: 65%
Housing blocks: 746, 748, 902, 904, 906, 908, 912, 920, 924, 926, 928, 930, 932
2014 registered voters: 8,304
2014 second round vote:Abdullah Bin-Huwail (MP) – 3540 (59.3%); Ahmed al-Dossary – 2432 (40.7%)
First round votes: Abdullah Bin-Huwail (MP) – 2938 (45.4%); Ahmed al-Dossary – 2775 (42.8%); Anwar al-Mohammed – 765 (11.8%)
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 Nuwaidrat. 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 original four 2014 candidates hailed from the Sunni Dossary and Al Marra tribal families.
This constituency has long been dominated by MP Abdullah Bin-Huwail, who stood down ahead of the 2018 contest. However, MP Rua al-Haiki, who represented the 6th Northern constituency in the 2014 elections, has relocated to this constituency, making her perhaps the best known candidate. Although she has once again embarked on a very vocal and visible campaign she has a mixed parliamentary record and it is unclear how much local support she can command here. Ali al-Noaimi, as son of the Education Minister, is another figure who is gaining media attention. With three women in the race, this is another constituency with a reasonable prospect of female representation in 2018.
Rua al-Haiki – MP (representing the 6th Northern constituency in the 2014 Parliament)
As with during her highly visible campaign in 2014, Haiki has been appearing in the media on a near daily basis discussing her electoral prospects and policy proposals. She has noted the need for legislation to ensure fiscal balance, stressed the need for institutional reform and administrative competence in the coming Parliament; and argued that educational infrastructure needs a strategic review. Regarding her electoral prospects, Haiki claims that her chances are high and she aims to become deputy chairperson in the next Parliament.
In late-2015 Haiki succeeded in displacing Jamila al-Sammak as chairwoman of the parliamentary Women and Children’s Committee with support from a number of conservative and Islamist MPs. Despite being a moderate Shia businesswoman, Haiki aligned herself with Sunni Islamic MPs, who proceeded to dominate the Women’s Committee after the two other female MPs promptly resigned.
Haiki collaborated with these Islamist figures to wage a series of strange campaigns against pro-women legislation; notably her ultimately unsuccessful efforts to block legislation for the enhanced implementation of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Al-Haiki said that CEDAW contradicted Islamic law and Bahraini traditions. The Bahrain Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Supreme Council for Women strongly disagreed with this view. Al-Haiki raised numerous alleged procedural flaws in the CEDAW draft. In consequence, she often has a tense relationship with more progressive voices in the Parliament, such as Khalid al-Shaer.
Al-Haiki is one of the smartest deputies in using the media to consolidate her profile, with regular media articles and press statements. In spring 2015 Al-Haiki took up the case of 124 graduates recently made unemployed by the Ministry of Labour. She succeeded in persuading the Ministry to adopt her proposals for providing them with vocational training. Al-Haiki offered to capitalize on her own background in recruitment consultancy in supporting the graduates for getting back to work. In summer 2015 Al-Haiki signaled in public statements that she intended to prioritize the issue of promoting Bahraini industry. She voiced sharp criticism of new fees imposed on industries.
Al-Haiki regularly engages with ministers and senior officials regarding issues raised in her elections platform, particularly in the areas of employment and economic growth. She often embarks on these initiatives alone and has not shown a tendency to build coalitions with parliamentary colleagues to promote issues of shared interest.
Al-Haiki has sometimes tended to be hesitant when it comes to key parliamentary votes, for example, she abstained during the 2 July 2015 Budget and debt ceiling votes, as well as abstaining when the Finance Committee voted on the Action Plan at the end of January 2015.
Ali Majid al-Noaimi
Ali al-Noaimi is son of Bahrain’s Education Minister Majid al-Noaimi. Noaimi, in announcing his candidacy, pledged not to spare any effort in pursuing the King’s reform agenda, saying that his campaign slogan was “A nation for all”. He mentioned that his electoral programme paid particular attention to retirees and families of martyrs. Noaimi has also advocated for legislation to improve sports clubs and facilities for young people.
Dr. Latifa al-Gaoud has emphasized her commitment to the King’s reform process. Note that this is not the same Latifa al-Gaoud as the former MP by the same name. Gaoud is a senior education official who mentioned that she had served Bahrain for 35 years.
Gaoud cited son of the King, Shaikh Nasser’s sporting success as an example of what he wanted to achieve as an MP in strengthening Bahrain’s domestic and international sporting prowess.
Areas covered: Southern Sitra, Ma’amir, East Riffa, Awali, Mazrowiyah, Askar, Jaw, Dawr
Number of candidates: 5
Likelihood of going to second round: 55%
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
2014 percentage 1st round voter turnout: 82.1%
2014 second round vote:Dhiyab al-Noaimi – 2787 (57.7%); Mohammed al-Sisi – 2047 (42.4%)
First round votes: Dhiyab al-Noaimi – 1901 (36.7%); Mohammed al-Sisi – 1082 (20.9%); Jassim al-Saeedi (MP) – 989 (19.1%); Mohammed al-Awdhani – 748 (14.5%); Abdullah al-Azami – 311; Noura Bushehri – 96; Ali al-Rumaihi – 51
Where as many of the Southern constituencies are relatively small and clustered around the Sunni loyalist heartland of Riffa; the 8th, 9th and 10th Southern constituencies in Bahrain’s far south have very different electoral dynamics. These three constituencies between them occupy around 2/3 of Bahrain’s total land mass, being very large and very sparsely occupied. These constituencies thus tend to be very rural, tribal and traditional. Often, relatively little is heard about these contests in the local media and tend to be more about personalities than issues.
Regarding 8th Southern, the 2014 constituency border changes produced this rather oddly located 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 2014 expansion of this district has brought in a few Shia-majority areas, particularly to the northeast in Sitra, which may help encourage a more diverse range of representatives.
Constituency boundary changes in 2014 initially pitted two MPs against each other. However, after the failure of sitting MP Khamis al-Rumaihi to register, the dominant figure in the 2014 contest was seen to be outspoken Sunni Islamist MP, Jassim al-Saeedi who had held his parliamentary seat since 2002. Saeedi is a controversial Sunni preacher who has been outspoken in attacking the opposition following the 2011 unrest, leading to charges of sectarianism. Saeedi in 2014 proceeded to fight a well-funded and visible campaign.
In the first round Dhiyab al-Noaimi succeeded in winning twice as many votes as Saeedi in one of the shock results of the contest, beating Al-Saeedi into third place. As by far the best-known figure in this district, many took Al-Saeedi’s successful candidacy for granted, particularly as his rivals had relatively little media exposure during the 2014 campaign. Nevertheless, Dhiyab al-Noaimi harshly criticized the performance of the previous Parliament. In an atmosphere where many Bahrainis have expressed discontent at what the last Parliament achieved, Al-Noaimi’s 2014 campaign platform was clearly in tune with these frustrations.
Noaimi and Saeedi’s decision not to stand in 2018 leaves this contest wide open. Mohammed al-Sisi could be assumed to be in a strong position in 2018 having narrowly lost to Noaimi during the 2014 second round. Mohammed Ibbad al-Awdhani came fourth place in 2014 with a respectable 14.5% of the vote. Awdhani in 2018 has had relatively more media exposure than the others, but that doesn’t necessarily mean much in this rather unpredictable constituency. Radio journalist Waleed al-Dhawadi also shouldn’t be underestimated.
Mohammed Ibrahim Ali Muhanna al-Sisi al-Buainain
In 2018 Buainain has taken a strong position regarding protecting and expanding the rights and benefits of the public, stating: “We will not bargain on citizens’ rights”. Sisi lost to to Dhiyab al-Noaimi in the second round in 2014 with a respectable 42% of the vote. 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.”
Mohammed Ibbad Mohammed Saleh al-Awdhani
Awdhani is reportedly of Yemeni origins. He has called for the 2018 Parliament to play a central role in a vision for economic development which preserves the rights of citizens. He has also praised the Crown Prince for his central economic role and in improving government performance. Al-Awdhani in 2014 enjoyed little attention in the media. However, his billboards appeared around the constituency with the slogan “Together in the nation of love and peace”.
Waleed is a radio journalist. While declaring his candidacy, he praised the King’s reform process and stressed the importance of civil freedoms, citing his own experience as a journalist in serving and informing citizens. He has urged Parliament to play a role in media reforms in order to make media outlets more relevant in playing a public service role.
Areas covered: Southwest coast; Sakhir
Number of candidates: 5
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
2014 registered voters: 5,090
2014 percentage 1st round voter turnout: 77.7%
2014 second round vote:Mohsin al-Bakri – 2144 (60.3%); Mohammed al-Dossary – 1409 (39.7%)
First round votes: Mohsin al-Bakri – 1784 (46.6%); Mohammed al-Dossary – 785 (20.5%); Mohammed al-Quwwati (NUG) – 599 (15.6%); Mutib al-Dhawadi – 358 (9.3%); Yousif al-Dossary – 306
The 9th Southern district is one of the three sparsely populated but geographically large southern constituencies that will certainly be won by a conservative and loyalist candidate. Independent candidates have always 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: Yet again in 2018 there are two contesting from the Dossary tribe, with two other Dossarys contesting in the next-door 10th Southern constituency. However, respected figures like current MP Muhsin al-Bakri (standing down in 2018), who have come from a municipal council role with a record of local public service, often tend to perform well.
Current MP Muhsin al-Bakri is standing down. Prior to winning his seat Al-Bakri had served for two terms as a municipal councillor and was head of the council during his second term. This 9th Southern contest changed dramatically during 2014 after incumbent MP for three terms, Abdullah al-Dossary, was appointed by the King as Council of Representatives secretary-general, necessitating Abdullah al-Dossary’s withdrawal from the contest. Badr al-Dossary is a municipal councillor, as was Muhsin al-Bakri prior to his 2014 win. So far this is proving to be a relatively subdued contest, compared to more vigorously-fought campaigns further north.
Badr al-Dossary has been the local municipal councilor. Dossary when announcing his candidacy spoke about his electoral platform in very general terms, for addressing the concerns of constituents.
Mutawwa is competing for the first time. He previously commented that this was a difficult constituency to make progress in because of strong local candidates with a record of public service.
Yousif Mardas al-Dossary
Yousif is competing for the first time. He told the media in late October that he believed he had strong prospects but was not yet ready to announce his electoral platform.
Areas covered: Southern Bahrain, Dawr & Hawar islands
Number of candidates: 2
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
2014 registered voters: 2,368
2014 percentage voter turnout: 45.3%; vote decided in the first round
2014 first round votes:Ahmed al-Mulla – 834 (80.27%); Khalid al-Dossary – 205 (19.7%). 2014 contest decided by outright win in the first round of voting.
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.
The low 2014 turnout compared to other Southern constituencies where participation of over 80% has been the norm, can perhaps be put down to the scattered nature of local populations, and the lack of serious competition for incumbent MP Ahmed al-Mulla.
An additional factor is that with Latifa al-Gaoud winning by default in both 2006 and 2010, there is no strong tradition of democratic participation in this rural and tribal area. In contrast to other areas of Bahrain, the contest here tends to receive relatively little media coverage, allowing little sense of what local people think of their candidates or the issues they want to see addressed in the coming Parliament.
Ahmed al-Mulla won this contest outright in the 2014 first round, having gained more than 80% of the vote against his only opponent, Khalid al-Dossary. Mulla went on to be Parliament Chairman throughout the 2014 Parliament. With Mulla deciding not to stand in 2018 and perhaps being slated for a seat in the Shura Council, the race is open to either of these two candidates from the Dossary tribe.
There was little sense of a genuine contest in this 10th Southern district in 2014. To begin with, immediately after the registration process, this contest ended up in court, with Khalid al-Dossary petitioning that Al-Mulla wasn’t qualified to stand in this constituency (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.). The court ruled in Al-Mulla’s favour.
Mulla won comfortably with 80% of the vote, soon followed by report that his rival had been threatened by court proceedings by members of the Dossary tribe who contested that Khalid wasn’t a Dossary at all. Up to 2014, Latifa al-Gaoud, who was Bahrain’s first female MP in 2006, had been a long-term incumbent for this constituency.
Khalid Khalifa Ali al-Binghadir al-Dossary
Khalid al-Dossary has declared his intention to focus on a range of economic issues in the 2018 Parliament; as well as furthering the agenda of political reform.
During the 2014 contest 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 was particularly visible in the media putting forward constructive policy proposals.