1st Capital

Areas covered: Manama northeast coast, Diplomatic Area, Houra, Qudaybiya

Number of candidates: 4

Likelihood of going to second round: 45% 

Housing blocks: 307, 308, 309, 310, 317, 318, 319, 320, 321, 322, 323, 344, 346

2014 registered voters: 6,317

2014 percentage 1st round voter turnout: 72.0%

2014 first round vote: Adel al-Asoumi (MP) – 2068 (47.5%); Khalid Sulaibikh – 1491 (34.2%); Ibrahim Janahi – 631 (14.5%); Ahmed al-Awadhi – 93; Ahmed al-Abbasi – 74

Second round vote: Adel al-Asoumi (MP) – 2265 (54.5%), Khalid Sulaibikh – 1891 (45.5%)

Voter demographic

1st Capital is one of the most predominantly loyalist areas within the Capital Governorate and so the result will be closely followed. For the many regional visitors to Bahrain, this is the Manama they know, with its hotels, leisure facilities, the Corniche and plentiful shopping and restaurant opportunities.

In terms of land area this is one of the larger Capital constituencies, although it has relatively low population density with only 6,317 registered voters, a substantial proportion of these clustered in the more traditional areas of Houra and Qudaybiya. 

One reason for the low population density is that the area encompasses many government and commercial offices, particularly in the Diplomatic Area and Financial Harbour. The population is set to grow in the coming years as much of the coastal land has been recently reclaimed and there are several huge residential projects underway.

Candidate outline

Adel al-Asoumi is formidable MP and campaigner with a 12 years record behind him in the Parliament, so it was unsurprising that only a small number of figures expressed their readiness to take him on in 2018. Along with two relatively unknown figures is Khalid al-Sulaibeekh who came second place in the second round run-off in 2014, with 45.5% of the vote. Murad Ali has already distinguished himself with some sharp criticism about the performance of existing MPs.

Adel al-Assoumi – Incumbent

As one of the longest-serving MPs (since 2006), Al-Asoumi has been an outspoken and visible figure in the 2015 Parliament. Al-Asoumi’s constituency covers some of the key business districts of Manama, making him an articulate advocate for small and medium-sized businesses. He also takes a strong interest in transport infrastructure. During the 10 November 2015 parliamentary session, Al-Asoumi led an urgent motion for blocking the sovereign wealth fund, Mumtalakat from taking possession of a stretch of coastline near Al-Fateh Mosque in Al-Asoumi’s constituency.

In October 2015, at the beginning of the new parliamentary term, Al-Asoumi was elected as the new head of the Public Utilities Committee, taking over from Jamal Dawoud.

Al-Asoumi’s chairmanship of the Subsidies Sub-Committee during mid-2015 gave him a high level of visibility on one of the highest profile and most controversial issues of 2015. The Sub-Committee’s strongly-worded mid-August statement criticizing the Deputy Chairman of Parliament’s comments on the subsidies issue is perhaps an indicator of Al-Aradi’s readiness to speak his mind.

Al-Asoumi’s activity in pursuing the health fees issue in early 2015 shows what an energetic figure he can be in pursuing matters he feels passionate about. He has been unforgiving in pursuing the Minister of Health on the issue of fees and other perceived shortcomings of the Ministry. During autumn 2015, Al-Asoumi championed a proposal for divesting the Health Ministry of responsibility for sending Bahrainis for treatment abroad, after numerous irregularities were cites in the Financial Audit Bureau report.

Al-Asoumi was the most outspoken MP in calling for the interrogation of the Health Minister following the parliamentary review of the 2014 Financial Audit Bureau report. He reacted furiously when insufficient numbers of MPs voted in favour of the interrogation proposal and ended up storming out of the 5 May 2015 parliamentary session, after the Chairman refused to let him speak.

His combative approach makes him sometimes rather scathing of the efforts of others. For example; Al-Asoumi accused MPs behind a proposal for increasing housing allowance, of playing with the public’s feelings, while knowing the Government would reject the idea. Al-Asoumi has tended to concern himself less with Government spending than some other business-minded MPs, but spoke positively of the State Budget and voted in support of it being passed.

Al-Aradi competed unsuccessfully for deputy chairmanship of the Parliament in December 2014. In the previous 2010-2014 Parliament, he was a member of the “Independents Bloc” which included current MPs Al-Mulla, Al-Kooheji and Bin-Huwail. During the 2011-12 parliamentary year Al-Asoumi was Chairman of the Services Committee.

Al-Assoumi said that since winning his parliamentary seat in 2006 “I embarked on a well-defined electoral programme for developing Houra and Qudaybiya. I’m now in the process of completing these… I’m one of the deputies who has made most use of constitutional parliamentary tools for achieving the aspirations of citizens”.

Al-Assoumi: “I expect to win by more than 75%. The other names don’t pose any threat to mine.” Seen as a popular and dynamic sitting MP, Al-Asoumi is Head of Bahrain’s National Basketball Association and active in increasing Bahrain’s international sporting profile. Al-Assoumi arrived several hours early for the registration process, in order to ensure that he would be the first person to register in the Capital.

Khalid Sulaibeekh 

Khalid al-Sulaibeekh came second place in the second round run-off in 2014, with 45.5% of the vote. Sulaibeekh in 2014 commented to Al-Ayam newspaper that his campaign would focus on the housing issue: “This constituency hasn’t seen any progress in housing for 12 years”. In a November 2018 statement, Sulaibeekh praised levels of awareness and support for the democratic process among Bahrainis.

He also has an interest in reducing university fees and providing financial support to students in order to “create a generation of young people who were more aware and better-educated”. Sulaibeekh heads a committee for processing housing requests in his local area. Sulaibeekh told Al-Wasat newspaper in 2014 that he would happily withdraw from the contest if the opposition ended its boycott, saying “the entry of the opposition would reduce the sectarian animosity that is plaguing this country”.

Murad Ali Murad

Murad has been strongly critical of existing MPs, saying “deputies from the current period have nothing to offer except promises. Haven’t you heard of deputies not attending sessions, deputies who don’t know how to speak and who are incapable of talking politely to ministers?”

2nd Capital

Areas covered: Central Manama, Burhama, Salehiya, Suwayfiyah

Number of candidates: 6

Likelihood of going to second round: 60% 

Housing blocks: 301, 302, 303, 304, 305, 306, 311, 312, 313, 314, 315, 316, 351, 353, 354, 355, 356, 357

2014 registered voters: 8,361

2014 percentage 1st round voter turnout: 33.3%

2014 first round vote: Ahmed Qaratah (MP) – 946 (36.3%); Hashim al-Alawi – 622 (23.9%); Ibtisam Hijres (MP) – 412 (15.8%); Faysal Bin-Rajab – 312 (12.0%); Ahmed Ghalib – 112; Ala’uddin Bu-Ali – 105; Faisal al-Aradi – 94

Second round vote: Ahmed Qaratah (MP) – 1224 (60.3%). Hashim al-Alawi – 806 (39.7%)

Voter demographic

This constituency includes the traditional market centre of Manama. However, the constituency has expanded quite substantially with the recent electoral border changes and now includes the outlying areas of Al-Burhama, Salehiya and Al-Suwayfiyah. As a result, it is difficult to make predictions as to which candidates may do well here. 

According to an analysis by Al-Watan newspaper, the population of this constituency is around 80% Shia, attributing the past success of female Sunni MP Ibtisam Hijres in this district to the overcoming of sectarian and gender divisions. 

Many urban Shia in these parts of Manama are from the Ajam community, of Iranian origin, who tend to stand apart from Al-Wefaq and the mainstream opposition. Many established Ajam families are staunchly loyalist and ignored Al-Wefaq’s election boycott, particularly with several moderate Shia candidates they could give their support to.

Candidate outline

Ibtisam Hijres took over from an Al-Wefaq candidate in the 2011 by-election, but she was only contesting in 2nd Capital as a result of the boundary changes (she previously represented the 3rd Capital district).  Hijres in 2014 lost to another MP Ahmed Qaratah. Ahmed Qaratah departed the race after a shock October 2018 court decision, based on petitions from rival candidates, that Qaratah and three other candidates were ineligible to stand because they weren’t domiciled in the constituency. 

With Qaratah dropping out of the race, Hijres is the best-known figure here. However she is joined by two other figures from the 2014 contest, Faisal Bin-Rajab (who gained 12% in 2014; 312 votes) and Ala’uddin Abdali (who only won 105 votes in 2014). Bin-Rajab is closely associated with the renowned Bin-Rajab Maatam.

Ibtisam Hijres – Former MP

MP Ibtisam Hijres gained her seat in 2011 after the Al-Wefaq MP in her constituency walked out of Parliament. She narrowly beat Hashim al-Alawi in a second round vote on a low turnout (366 votes to 312). In 2014 she was beaten into third place in the first round, with 15.8% of the vote.

During her time as an MP, Hijres became a well-known figure and her participation in major events was regularly covered in the media. However, she seemed to make little effort to engage the media with her 2014 campaign platform.

Faisal Bin-Rajab 

Bin-Rajab is associated with the Bin-Rajab Maatam, a major Shia institution and the oldest Maatam in Manama.

Alauddin (Alaa) Abdali Mohammed Hassan Bu-Ali 

Bu-Ali told Al-Watan newspaper of his desire to improve local services, reduce unemployment and improve facilities for young people. 

3rd Capital

Areas covered: Sanabis, Karbabad, Seef

Number of candidates: 15

Likelihood of going to second round: 95% 

Housing blocks: 402, 404, 406, 408, 410, 412, 414, 422, 424, 426, 428, 430, 432, 434, 436, 438, 592

2014 registered voters: 10,225

2014 percentage 1st round voter turnout: 9.8%

2014 first round vote: Ali Shamtout (MP) – 246 (29.1%); Adel Bin-Hamid – 203 (24.0%); Abbas Siraj – 123 (14.5%); Abbas Kayid – 107 (12.7%); Ammar al-Mahari – 84 (9.9%); Hashim al-Aradi – 54; Mohammed al-Mawali – 29

2014 second round vote: Adel Bin-Hamid – 394 (65.0%)   Ali Shamtout (MP) – 212 (35.0%)

Voter demographic

This district is a strange combination of the fashionable Seef District which features several of Manama’s most popular malls; alongside localities like Sanabis and Karbabad which have been hotbeds of opposition rioting. 

The boycott does seem to have split this community with many criticizing Al-Wefaq’s boycott, which they say risks depriving locals of proper representation. The 2014 electoral campaign in this Capital constituency was notably lackluster and even in the upmarket Seef District, there is hardly a single campaign poster in evidence for any of the candidates. At least one candidate, Mohammed al-Mawali, reported multiple attacks against his property by opposition militants; a factor that perhaps further deterred potential candidates and voters. 

Candidate outline

Ali Shamtout won the seat from an Al-Wefaq candidate after the 2011 Al-Wefaq parliamentary walkout and the subsequent by-election. However, Shamtout won this by-election on a historically low turnout. Shamtout was defeated in the second round of the 2014 elections against businessman Adel Hamid, once again with a tiny number of votes cast. A somewhat controversial figure, Shamtout sought to stand in 6th Capital in 2018, but was prevented from standing due to proof of residency issues.

Given the weak nature of the 2014, it is astonishing to see 15 candidates standing in 2018, including MP Adel Hamid, former MP Abdulhadi Marhoun and a substantial number of new faces. Ammar al-Mahari joined the campaign in 2014, but only won 84 votes. Ali Samir has already distinguished himself as a vigorous young candidate. Fatima Mudaweb has focused her campaign on improving welfare benefits for mothers from low-income families.

Adel Bin-Hamid – Incumbent MP

Businessman Adel Bin-Hamid after 2014 quickly emerged as a confident parliamentary player who speaks out on a range of issues. He pledged to take a less confrontational approach than his predecessor Ali Shamtout, but since his election has been willing to be outspoken in raising the interests of his constituents.

Bin-Hamid has been willing to advocate the cause of businesses and promote issues affecting ordinary voters, such as his successful campaign for a new girls’ school in Sanabis. This dualism is important in a constituency encompassing both the business and commercial district of Seef and poorer pro-opposition areas like Sanabis and Daih.

Bin-Hamid has consistently raised a broad range of issues related to the economy, including the need to prioritize Bahraini workers for employment and provide them with the necessary skills for the workplace. Bin-Hamid’s proposals for a fishing port in his constituency was agreed by Parliament on 12 May.

Bin-Hamid has strongly criticized the proposal for removing meat subsidies, saying that the proposal violated the promises of the Government Action Plan that no measures would be taken which infringed on the benefits of citizens and condemning the lack of consultation with Parliament.

Abdulhadi Marhoun – former MP

Former MP Marhoun has indicated that he may enter Parliament as part of the newly announced National List, which includes other former MPs and municipal councilors from both Bahrain’s major sects. Marhoun was an MP for the same areas of Manama between 2002 and 2006.

Ammar Jaffar Ibrahim Yousif al-Mahari 

Ammar al-Mahari joined the campaign in 2014, but only won 84 votes. Al-Mahari said he was encouraged to compete in 2014 by the calls for a boycott. He said that he expected to face “substantial pressures” after announcing his candidacy. His priorities are infrastructure, employment and housing. Al-Mahari mentioned that he would focus his campaigning efforts on online activity. 

Fatima Al Mudaweb 

Fatima said that she had sought to adopt policy positions which had received insufficient attention in the past, such as support for non-working mothers, and more carefully defined criteria for receiving benefits. She said that mothers of those with special needs should be a particular priority.

Hussain Rabia

Rabia criticized candidates who put forward policy proposals which were outside the competence of Parliament, saying that candidates’ political platforms were a contract of trust between voters and MPs.

Mohammed al-Haiki

Among his priorities, Haiki mentioned education, unemployment and the economy. He also stressed the need to do more for supporting young people and addressing challenges they face.

Ali Samir

Samir is a young candidate with a degree in administration. When he first announced his candidacy he said that he hadn’t yet had chance to decide the themes he would prioritize.

4th Capital

Areas covered: Fateh, Juffair, Ghuraifa, Mina Salman, Umm Hassam, Abu-Ghazzal, Adliya

Number of candidates: 3

Likelihood of going to second round: 60% 

Housing blocks: 324, 325, 326, 327, 333, 335, 336, 337, 338, 339, 340, 341, 342, 343, 373

2014 registered voters: 7,014

2014 percentage 1st round voter turnout: 62.3%

2014 first round votes: Abdulrahman Bumjaid (MP) – 1773 (42.6%); Ibrahim al-Mannai (Mithaq) – 738 (17.7%); Hassan Bukhamas (MP) – 678 (16.3%); Ammar al-Banai – 649 (15.6%); Adnan al-Nuaimi – 103; Fadhil al-Badu – 223

Second round vote:  Abdulrahman Bumjaid (MP) – 2052 (59.6%)   Ibrahim al-Mannai (Mithaq) – 1394 (40.5%)

Voter demographic

This district includes the area around Bahrain’s central Al-Fateh Mosque, the popular coastal Juffair area and the culturally-significant locality of Adliya. However, this region contains a diverse range of localities: Middle class and working class; a broad range of political affiliations and a mix between Sunni-majority and Shia-majority areas; including Ajam Bahrainis of Iranian origin, who are often loyalist in orientation.

Candidate outline

The 2014 redrawing of constituency boundaries threw two incumbent MPs against each other in the previous elections. Former MP Hassan Eid Bukhamas gained his seat in the 2011 by-election following the Al-Wefaq parliamentary walk-out. Bukhamas’s whose former areas of support include the core areas of this constituency (Al-Fateh, Juffair, Mina Salman…). However, MP Abdulrahman Bumajid (with strong support in the Umm Hassam and Abu-Ghazzal areas) also enjoyed a solid support base and ultimately prevailed in 2014, ultimately winning in the second round against Mithaq society’s Ibrahim al-Mannai. 

Popular TV host Ammar al-Banai in 2014 also fought a vigorous campaign. As a prominent face not associated with perceived failings of previous parliaments, Banai may stand a strong chance in 2018, particularly in a contest with only three candidates.

Abdulrahman Bumjaid– Incumbent 

Bumjaid has held a parliamentary seat since 2006 and won his seat in 2014 in one of the most hotly contested constituencies. He generally positions himself as a loyalist figure well within the mainstream of parliamentary opinions. 

The Government’s 2015 plan for halting meat subsidies saw Bumjaid standing with the majority of MPs in opposition to the proposal. In autumn 2015 Bumjaid issued several statements voicing support for the local fishing industry and advocating the need to protect fishing stocks.

At the beginning of the new parliamentary term in October 2015, it was announced that Bumjaid would head an alliance of MPs called the National Bahrain Bloc. As far back as the beginning of 2015 Bumjaid and Ahmed Qaratah were reported as being affiliated with such a bloc. During mid-2015 Bumjaid put out a flurry of statements condemning domestic and regional terrorism incidents, indicating the importance he places on his membership of the Defence Committee.

The administration of the American Mission Hospital has been a consistent issue which Bumjaid raised with ministers in the early months of 2015, raising concerns of the organization’s financial procedures and the alleged failure to abide by accepted procedures followed by other Bahraini entities. Bumjaid was among the minority of 12 MPs who voted against the State Budget on 2 July 2015. He said that the Budget failed to implement the promises set out in the Government Action Plan.

Bumjaid is the only surviving member of the “National Independents Bloc” from the previous Parliament, which in July 2012 broke away from the “Independents Bloc” (of which Ahmed al-Mulla, Adel al-Asoumi and Isa al-Kooheji were members). Bumjaid was Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee during the 2012-13 parliamentary year.

In a November 2018 statement Bumjaid emphasized his support for the role of women in all walks of life. Bumjaid’s 2014 election slogan “Al-Bahrain tasta’ahal” loosely translates as “Bahrain rises to the challenge”. He said that he registered his candidacy on the first day in order to encourage Bahrainis to vote and sign up as candidates. Bumjaid, who has held a parliamentary seat since 2006, said he welcomed the prospect of going head-to-head with Bukhamas. However, he admitted that the border changes made things harder for him, noting that his constituency had expanded from 3,500 to 7,000 registered voters.

Hassan Bukhamas – Former MP

Bukhamas has twice won a place in Parliament, first in the 2002 elections and then in the 2011 by-election. In 2014 he came fourth place with 16.3% of the vote. Announcing his candidacy in 2018, Bukhamas said that the 2014 Parliament had been weak and “let everybody down”. He urged that the 2018 Parliament be filled with strong and capable figures.

Bukhamas in 2014 stressed that he would prioritize “housing, infrastructure, unemployment, and recruitment”. He also said that he wanted to promote “clean family tourism, particularly in Jufair”. Bukhamas added that he wanted to crack down on “lewd parties, prostitution and the sale of alcohol”. 

Ammar al-Banai

In 2018 Banai has talked about competing in the elections as part of a “journalists’ bloc”. He also proposed establishing an “independents’ bloc” inside the Parliament if he won. Banai in 2014 won 15.6% of the vote and came fourth place. Al-Banai in 2014 said that his priority was raising standards of living for citizens. He talked specifically about increasing public sector wages, “for the sake of achieving social justice”. He said that as an MP he would be dedicated to promoting the priorities of the youth “because the young people for Bahrain are the knights of change and the future of the nation”.

Al-Banai – himself a popular TV presenter and a respected liberal voice – said that he would promote the rights of journalists and the role of the media within the Parliament. Following the opening on his election HQ on 8 November, he has announced a programme of debates about the issues he wants to address. In September 2018 Banai claimed that his WhatsApp account had been hacked. @shabab4capital @aalbannai

5th Capital

Areas covered: Bilad al-Qadeem, Zinj, Salmaniya, Segaya, Mahooz and Abu Asheera

Number of candidates: 8

Likelihood of going to second round: 75% 

Housing blocks: 328, 329, 330, 331, 332, 334, 358, 359, 360, 361, 362, 363, 364

2014 registered voters: 7,782

2014 percentage 1st round voter turnout: 32.3%

2014 first round vote: Nasser al-Qaseer – 821 (36.0%); Wafa Ajoor – 523 (22.9%); Adel Al Safr – 368 (16.1%); Mamoud al-Hamar – 143 (6.3%); Hussain Bukhamas – 118; Kadhim al-Uwaynati – 117; Ibrahim al-Awadhi – 96; Basimah Saleh – 64; Rashad Umar -32

Second round vote: Nasser al-Qaseer – 1047 (55.6%)   Wafa Ajoor – 836 (44.4%)

Voter demographic

The inclusion of several opposition strongholds during the 2014 boundary redrawing made this sector an unpredictable one, although moderate, professional Shia candidates have tended to do well in these areas. 

Candidate outline

In 2014 sitting MP Abdulhakim al-Shamari had been the obvious front-runner in the contest, until a legal complaint from a rival about Al-Shamari’s main address being outside the constituency led to a court decision to remove Al-Shamari from the contest. In the event, Nasir Qaseer won the seat in 2014. He hasn’t been one of the most visible candidates during the 2014 Parliament, despite holding significant positions on the parliamentary human rights and finance committees. He faces a stiff challenge from young and campaign-savvy Ahmed al-Saloum, member of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry, along with other figures like Dina Fakhrawi who have been seeking to boost their public profiles

Nasser al-Qaseer – incumbent MP 

By winning chairmanship of the Parliament Human Rights Committee in November 2015, Al-Qaseer found himself in a highly visible position. During the first few months of the new Parliament, Al-Qaseer was the Deputy Chairman on the Financial Committee, making him a significant voice on governance and financial issues. 

However, during the 14 October vote concerning membership of the Finance Committee for the new parliamentary term, Isa al-Kooheji, Khalid al-Shaer and Nasser al-Qaseer were all voted off the Committee after a substantial number of MPs lobbied for changes to the membership of this Committee. Parliamentary sources told the media that Al-Kooheji wand Al-Qaseer were seen as not having been sufficiently tough with ministers in negotiations over the State Budget in previous months.

Al-Qaseer has often stressed the importance of job creation and living standards. During the 2 July 2015 vote on the State Budget, Al-Qaseer strongly spoke out in support of the need to pass the Budget.

“The current situation requires change, in terms of increasing standards of living and improving oversight and legislation;” Al-Qaseer told Al-Ayam newspaper in 2014.

Qaseer is a prominent advocate for strengthening Bahrain’s sporting achievements. His sporting roles include being treasurer of the Basketball Association.

Dina Fakhrawi

Dina has made several appearances in the media discussing her policy positions. Her campaign slogan is “the nation is for all” and she has warned constituents of other candidates who make hollow promises. As an MP she promised that she would address the “crisis of confidence” between voters and representatives. She has stressed the importance of democratization, the rule of law and overcoming sectarian divides.

Ahmed al-Saloum

Saloum is a young moderate Shia candidate who recently fought and won a strong campaign for membership of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He embarked on a vigourous parliamentary campaign, appearing regularly in the media to emphasize his electoral platform. While other candidates have made rash promises about wage and benefits increases, Saloum has sought to devize a “practical and realistic” plan, noting that there had to be a balance between public sector expenditure and wage levels. His slogan is “together we correct the path.”

Rashad Izzuddin Omar 

Rashad said he wanted to stand because of the “failures” of previous parliaments. He stressed his independent position in comments to Al-Bilad newspaper, saying he would not accept support from any party. Rashad’s legal application against Abdulhakim al-Shamari arguably succeeded in removing the strongest candidate from this 5th Capital contest.

6th Capital

Areas covered: Khamis, Musalla, Tashan, Abu Baham, Adhari, North Sehla, South Sehla

Number of candidates: 10

Likelihood of going to second round: 85% 

Housing blocks: 365, 366, 367, 368, 369, 405, 407, 411, 413, 419, 421, 423, 425, 701, 705, 707, 711, 713

2014 registered voters: 10,946

2014 percentage 1st round voter turnout: 26.2%

2014 first round vote: Ali Hassan Ahmed Ali al-Atish (MP, Rabitah) – 1039 (41.8%); Abdullah al-Kooheji – 835 (33.6%); Masoumah Abdulrahim – 438 (17.6%); Ihsan al-Faraj – 63; Abdulnabi Mahdi – 112

Second round vote: Ali al-Atish (MP, Rabitah) – 1280 (69.3%)   Abdullah al-Kooheji – 567 (30.7%)

Voter demographic

Several areas of this district were incorporated from parts of the Northern Governorate, producing an area where opposition support is prevalent. So it will be interesting to see what proportion of people boycott and how the candidates fare.

In violence after the Shia Ashura processions in early November, there was an outbreak of vandalism in the area, including the destruction of at least one billboard for Abdullah al-Kooheji. Unsurprisingly, most other local candidates have so far been reluctant to publically display any promotional material advertising themselves.

Candidate outline

Long-standing MP Ali al-Atish from the Rabitah society has been relatively bullish so far about prospects of victory against relatively low-profile rivals. However, Dr Masoumah Abdulrahim is well worth watching after waging a credible campaign in 2014.

Ali al-Atish (Rabitah)

As one of a minority of MPs who served in the previous Parliament, Atish has a long-standing record of speaking out on issues of principle, even if this occasionally puts him at odds with some of his parliamentary colleagues. In October 2015, Al-Atish was selected uncontested as the Chairman of the influential Parliamentary Legal Committee, after former Chairman Majid al-Majid stepped down. According to the media, Al-Atish enjoyed the support of all his colleagues from this Committee for ascending to his new role.

Little was heard from Al-Atish throughout late March and April 2015, although he was reported as being abroad undergoing medical treatment. Despite being a vocal advocate of ministerial accountability, he was once again absent from the 5 May 2015 parliamentary session for the vote on whether to interrogate the Health Minister over issues raised in the Financial Audit Bureau report.

In May 2015, Al-Atish was one of the MPs speaking out against the proposal for cancelling meat subsidies and criticizing the Government’s failure to coordinate with Parliament over the issue. During the 2 July 2015 parliamentary session when a majority of 18 MPs approved an increase in the debt ceiling to BD 7bn, Al-Atish voted against the measure.

During summer 2015 Al-Atish spoke out on several occasions calling on the Government to freeze implementation of subsidy reform proposals to allow for greater study and consultation. In May 2015 Al-Atish submitted a proposal for upgrading the sewage system along the Tubli coast. His proposal was sharply critical of the neglect his constituency had suffered and stressed the health impact on local people. Al-Atish has on several occasions raised the issue of old homes in danger of collapse in the constituency. During the 20 October parliamentary session, Al-Atish argued passionately in favour of increased resources and higher staffing levels for Jid Hafs Health Centre. MPs agreed with his proposal for extending the centre’s opening hours.

Between 2011 and 2014 in the previous Parliament, Al-Atish was one of the non-affiliated MPs (the only one to have survived into the current Parliament. He served as the Chairman of the Legal Committee during the 2012-13 parliamentary year; and returned to the same post in July 2015. Atish is the only MP representing Al-Rabitah, a moderate Shia political society.

Dr. Masoomah Abdulrahim 

Dr Masoomah made a respectable showing in the 2014 vote, winning more than 17% of ballots. Masoomah – a psychologist – has stressed the importance of promoting the role of women in Parliament and other areas of society. She wants to prioritize opportunities for youth, pensioners and women. @DrMassoma1

Ihsan al-Faraj

Al-Faraj has criticized the performance of previous deputies, saying he believed he enjoyed sufficient local popularity to win the contest. Al-Faraj said his campaign would focus on services, housing, health and education. 

Kamil Mirza

Mirza says that he wants to prioritize the issue of unemployment, in part by obliging Bahraini employers to do more to recruit qualified Bahrainis. His electoral slogan is “development creates success, and serious efforts achieve their desired goals”.

Sayed Mohammed Majid Shubar 

Shubar joined the elections in 2014, but have dropped out before the first round, saying that he hadn’t properly consulted with local people and didn’t want to split the vote. At that time Shubar pledged his support for MP Atish, who he said possessed more experience. In 2018 he said that he had made more effort to consult constituents. He added that he wouldn’t promise anything but promised to prioritize services. 

Shubar in 2014 warned that Al-Wefaq’s boycott would allow “Salafists and foreigners” to enter Parliament. He said that he would prioritize housing and unemployment in his campaign. Shubar told journalists that his profession had been “building the walls of all the graveyards in Jidhafs… I never let a single corpse escape”!

7th Capital

Areas covered: Jid Ali, Jurdab

Number of candidates: 6

Likelihood of going to second round: 70% 

Housing blocks: 709, 721, 729, 733, 816

2014 registered voters: 10,695

2014 percentage 1st round voter turnout: 46.1%

2014 first round votes: Osamah al-Khajah – 1458 (32.9%); Zainab Abdulamir – 1092 (24.6%); Khalid al-Quwwati – 656 (14.8%); Ridha Shukrallah – 615 (13.9%); Abdullah al-Dirazi – 610 (13.8%)

2014 second round vote: Osamah al-Khajah – 2094 (60.4%)   Zainab Abdulamir – 1373 (39.6%)

Voter demographic

This district is a remaining fragment of the 1st district of the defunct Capital Governorate. The district lies to the south of Manama along the stretch of coast facing the island of Sitra and has a diverse population, making voting predictions difficult. 

For example, parts of the locality hails from the Ajam community of Iranian origins, although some Ajam have opposition sympathies, the established families, with close ties to the royal family, are staunchly loyalist. So a respectable turnout can be expected.

This area has tended to have one of the highest turn-outs for elections in the Capital area. The lack of any pervading political ideology and a diverse community have tended to favour a broad range of independent candidates and historically has resulted in some of the most interesting – and surprising – electoral contests.

Candidate outline

Incumbent MP Osama al-Khajah has been forced out of the race after an October 2018 court decision, based on petitions from rival candidates, that Khajah and three other candidates were ineligible to stand because they weren’t resident in the constituency. With Khajah stepping down, perhaps the most prominent candidate here is journalist Zainab Abdulamir who lost to Khajah in the second round in 2014. Many observers commented favourably on the way Zainab Abdulamir about her 2014 campaign, which has been well-covered in the media. Nevertheless, candidate Riyadh Kuwaitan has controversially claimed that women would be “unacceptable” as candidates in this constituency.

Zainab Abdulamir 

Journalist Zainab Abdulamir gained around 40% of the vote in 2014, losing to Osama al-Khajah. In 2018 Zainab stated that the 2014 Parliament had allowed Bahrainis to lose their rightful benefits, judging MPs’ performance to be “weak”. Abdulamir in 2014 urged greater collaboration between the private and public sectors in order to facilitate job creation for young people. She said youth unemployment will become a substantial problem for the future if more isn’t done to expand opportunities for challenging roles for graduates in the private sector.

Zainab said that there is a desire for change in Bahrain and for “new blood” in the Parliament, which gives greater momentum to candidates representing the youth. Regarding the housing crisis she said that this should be addressed through local developers, companies and banks, to avoid depleting the national budget.

Zainab said she had gained political experience from many years of covering parliamentary sessions as a journalist. She caught the media’s attention by giving away promotional car stickers which covered the entire rear window. @zainabaameer

Abdulaziz Murad

Murad says that his priorities include supporting the King’s reform process and democratization efforts. He added that he wanted to focus on supporting the unemployed, low income families and pensioners.

Riyadh Kuwaitan

Kuwaitan said that the death of his daughter due to “medical negligence” was the reason for him announcing his candidacy. He said that the local constituency required a male candidate. He said that female candidates had no chance of success in the district and would be unacceptable to local people.

8th Capital

Areas covered: Nabih Saleh, Sitra, Industrial Area, Marqoban, Mahaza

Number of candidates: 5

Likelihood of going to second round: 65% 

Housing blocks: 380, 381, 382, 601, 602, 603, 604, 605, 606

2014 registered voters: 9,372

Majid al-Asfour won by default in 2014

Voter demographic

This constituency, centred around Sitra, in 2014 represented one of the strongest areas of support for the opposition’s vote boycott. Hence, repeated attacks were reported against candidates and their property. In 2018 the boycott may take a less organized and visible form, nevertheless, levels of voting may be low; particularly after no vote was held here in 2014 because on elections day only one candidate remained in the race.

Candidate outline

The incumbent MP for this constituency is Dr Majid al-Asfour, a respected Shia cleric who used his parliamentary tenure to be active on local issues. The other four 2018 candidates are relatively unknown figures at a national level who haven’t yet received much media attention. However, an expected lower turnout may produce unpredictable results.

When the dust settled after 2014 the registration process, there were three candidates standing for the Sitra constituency; Majid al-Asfour, Amin Mansour and Jaffar Abdullah. Shia cleric Majid al-Asfour was the favourite candidate throughout and gained the most media attention. This was also a campaign marred by boycott threats and attacks by local militants on anything related to the elections. Al-Asfour had his property attacked and his car set alight.

These factors possibly contributed to the decision made by the other two candidates on 9 November to withdraw in favour of Majid al-Asfour. Reportedly, at least one of the candidates phoned Al-Asfour and told him of the decision to withdraw and that he was the preferred and more experienced candidate.

After the announcement by the Justice Ministry of his win, Al-Asfour told the media: “I will do everything I can to find jobs for the unemployed in the constituency. Considering that our area is surrounded by factories, I will do whatever I can to ensure that these factories contribute to employing the unemployed young people in this constituency”.

Dr. Majid al-Asfour 

Shia Cleric Al-Asfour was nationwide the only deputy to win his seat by default in the 2014 elections, after the other candidates pulled out in a local campaign marred by violence. Al-Asfour’s Sitra constituency is an opposition stronghold, although he hails from the staunchly loyalist Asfour family. During his 2014 election campaign, Al-Asfour endured multiple arson attacks against his property from militants trying to deter him from participating.

Nevertheless, once in Parliament, Al-Asfour has worked hard to prove himself to be a deputy committed to the issues concerning his constituents. He appealed to the Minister of Works to devote more attention to the localities of Nabih Saleh and Sitra for the purpose of winning local hearts and minds.

Al-Asfour during his 2014 campaign told the press: “Everything grinds to a halt if there is no security. Therefore the necessary steps must be taken because we all need security, which is necessary for exercising freedoms”. Al-Asfour, a Shia cleric, said would prioritize raising standards of living, public services and housing.

On 20 October 2014, Al-Asfour’s property was attacked and two of his cars were set on fire, apparently attributed to those opposing his candidacy. He said the attacks had made him more determined to contest the elections. Al-Asfour said that rather than just detaining those who had perpetrated the attacks, police should target those who had instigated these attacks and exploited the youths involved. Al-Asfour came fifth place in the 2006 elections, with 134 votes.

Zahra Hanoun

Zahra Hanoun is a local businesswoman who mentions that her previous role at a local community centre raised her awareness of local concerns. She praised the efforts of the King and Prime Minister, as well as citing the role of the King’s wife, Princess Sabeeka, in empowering women. She pledged that as an MP she would support pro-women legislation.

Dr. Hassan al-Sadadi

Local doctor Sadadi has stressed that education will be his priority, which he noted was necessary for developing the economy. He pledged to address the issue of graduates who struggled to find jobs. He noted his exposure to local concerns from his medical role.

9th Capital

Areas covered: Southern Sitra, East Eker

Number of candidates: 5

Likelihood of going to second round: 65% 

Housing blocks: 607, 608, 609, 611, 623, 624, 633, 634

2014 registered voters: 9,591

2014 percentage 1st round voter turnout: 9.6%

2014 first round vote: Ibrahim al-Asfour – 302 (39.1%); Mohammed Jaffar – 266 (34.5%); Mohammed Al Shaikh – 204 (26.4%)

Second round vote: Mohammed Jaffar – 500 (62.3%)   Ibrahim al-Asfour – 303 (37.7%)

Voter demographic

This constituency is another entirely new area, made up of several former districts. Being centred around Sitra and Al-Eker, it includes opposition areas, and so may be influenced by calls for a boycott. In 2014 candidate Mohammed al-Ekri withdrew from the contest two weeks after attacks against his property. Militants attacked and burned Al-Ekri’s car business on 23 October, causing large amounts of damage. Al-Ekri said he had been accused of being a “traitor” for participating in the elections. It remains to be seen how much impact calls for a boycott will have in 2018, although less than 10% of voters turned out in 2014.

Candidate outline

During the first round of the 2014 vote, Ibrahim al-Asfour came top with 39% of the votes. However, in the second round, he was comfortably beaten by Mohammed Milad, although the boycott meant that the number of ballots cast was very low.

In 2018 Milad and Asfour face off yet again. Asfour and other candidates may gain additional favour for not having been part of the 2014 Parliament. Milad was for the most part a very low-profile MP, primarily using his legal background to comment on technical issues. However this legal experience made him a popular figure in the various parliamentary committees which he participated in.

Mohammed Milad – incumbent MP

Al-Milad won his seat in southern Sitra in the 2014 elections, despite not establishing a media profile for himself at a national level. He continues to be a low key MP, not given to speaking out to the media. 

As a lawyer, most of Milad’s contributions during parliamentary sessions concern procedural issues and legal points. During early 2015, he was outspoken against the Government’s usage of “urgent” for bills in cases which Milad has said is unjustified. He often refers back to constitutional protocols and the Parliamentary Code to justify his arguments. The reason Milad gave for rejecting the Budget during the 2 July 2015 vote was the protracted delay in submitting the Budget to Parliament by the Government.

In November 2015 MPs rejected his bid to leave the Meat Standards Committee because they judged his legal experience to be too valuable. So while Milad not be a particularly visible MP to the public, his committee roles and overall contribution are clearly valued. 

Milad comes across in Parliament as a figure with an individual perspective who is willing to take a position contrary to that of other MPs. Milad was the only deputy to abstain and not vote in favour during the 24 February parliamentary vote on regulations governing retired military personnel.

Reportedly, Milad is affiliated with the Al-Rabitah Political Society, a moderate Shia society which Ali al-Atish is the only other formal member of in Parliament.

Ibrahim al-Asfour 

Ibrahim al-Asfour, head or the Driving Instructors society, in 2018 promised to prioritize service provision for local people. Al-Asfour lost to Osamah al-Tamimi on a low turnout in the 2011 by-election. Al-Asfour scored 301 and Al-Tamimi beat him with 481 votes in the first round and Al-Tamimi won again in the second round with 443 votes to 417. During the first round of the 2014 vote, Ibrahim al-Asfour came top with 39% of the votes. However, in the second round, he was comfortably beaten by Mohammed Milad (Asfour won 37.7% of the vote), although the boycott meant that the number of ballots cast was very low.

10th Capital

Areas covered: West Eker, Sanad and South Isa Town

Number of candidates: 7

Likelihood of going to second round: 75% 

Housing blocks: 625, 626, 644, 743, 745, 815

Registered voters: 10,046

2014 percentage 1st round voter turnout: 49.4%

2014 first round vote: Nabil al-Balooshi – 877 (19.1%); Ali Ishaqi – 758 (16.5%); Adel Abduljalil – 593 (12.9%), Atiyatallah Al Sinan – 533 (11.6%), Wajih Baqer (Mithaq) – 410, Khalifa Sulaibikh – 328, M. al-Markh – 164, Lulwah Mutlaq (Watan) – 267, Salman al-Saffar – 129, Sumayah al-Jowder – 77, Noura Matouq – 70, Yassir al-Khayyat – 62, Yassir Bukhuwwah – 55, Tariq al-Tamimi – 58, Abdulhamid al-Baqishi – 12

Second round vote: Nabil al-Balooshi – 2151 (56.0%)   Ali Ishaqi – 1692 (44.0%)

Voter demographic

In 2014 this constituency saw 15 candidates facing off against each other, which at the time was historically the highest number of candidates for a Bahrain constituency. This constituency was a new creation resulting from the 2014 constituency boundary reforms, largely put together from the cancelled Central Governorate. 

The theory was that a mixed central region like this would favour moderate consensus candidates, hence the 2014 appearance of middle-ground societies like Al-Watan and Mithaq contesting this seat and three rival female candidates. One 2014 newspaper analysis noted the prevalence of “technocratic and liberal” candidates, while expecting a high turnout of female voters. In the event, these diverse candidates perhaps cancelled each other out, and the result was the 2014 vote being won by Salafist cleric Nabil al0Balooshi. Former MP Sumaya al-Jowder faced criticism from several sources of her parliamentary performance and she failed to make it into the second round.

Candidate outline

Incumbent MP, cleric Nabil al- Balooshi affiliated with the Salafist Asalah society, has been banned from standing following a shock court decision that he was ineligible to stand because of non-residency in the constituency. With Nabil al-Balooshi removed from the ballot this is an open contest. 

Ali Ishaqi may enjoy stronger prospects in 2018, given his sporting profile and the fact that he came second place with 44% of the vote in 2014. He also contested the vote in 2010. Tariq al-Tamimi, brother of controversial former MP Osama al-Tamimi, also participated in 2014, although he only gained 58 votes. Louay Khamis has been active in the media from an early stage. Iman Shuwaiter from the Progressive League society is also cited as being somebody worth watching, while Hamad Taqi has been visible in the media discussing his policy plans.

Ali Ishaqi

Ishaqi is already proving to be one of the most visible local candidates in the media. He has stressed the importance of the economy in addressing all other issues which Bahrain faces. He has also praised the Crown Prince for efforts to add the housing crisis.

Ishaqi performed strongly in 2014, despite the crowded field. He made it through into the second round, but then lost to cleric Nabil al-Balooshi with 44% of the vote. 

Bahrain Handball Federation chairman Ali Ishaqi, 46, in 2014 said that things had changed since he ran for a seat in 2010: “It was harder four years ago with Al Wefaq, but I won 2,600 votes and this shows that I am capable now more than ever of winning my seat,” he said. “An issue I will take is non-Bahrainis born to Bahraini mothers and their right to choose between nationalities, which needs proper legislation to regulate it.”

Eman Shuwaiter

Eman is reportedly a member of the Progressive League society. A newspaper analysis noted that she enjoyed a strong prospect of victory after the withdrawal of cleric Nabil al-Balooshi, affiliated with Al-Asalah society.

Loay Khamis

Loay has talked about lowering the retirement age and reducing Bahrain’s dependence of foreign labour, both initiatives which he said would reduce unemployment. He also stressed his commitment to supporting young people and those on low incomes.

Khalid al-Eid

Khalid al-Eid declared in 2018 that his campaign slogan was “voice of the citizen”. Eid is the CEO of a consultancy company, in the field of training and institutional development. He emphasized the importance of promoting education, along with health and rights for the elderly. He also said that he wanted to focus on unemployment and developing the economy.

Tariq Muhanna al-Tamimi

Tamimi only gained 58 votes in 2014. Brother of the controversial MP Osama al-Tamimi, Tariq’s 2014 candidacy was initially rejected. However, Tariq was allowed to stand on appeal. Osama had been accepted for 9th Capital in 2014, but was then rejected due to his non-residence in the constituency.

Hamad Taqi

Taqi has emphasized the importance of reviewing and enhancing existing legislation in order to improve standards of living. He also has mentioned having a four-year policy plan, focusing on issues like living standards, housing and economic development, which he promised to pursue if elected. He promised to play a role in restoring public confidence in Parliament through a greater willingness to use constitutional powers.

Abdullah al-Hammadi

 

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