Bahrain’s 2018 parliamentary and municipal elections went ahead on 24 November with around 67% of the registered electorate casting their votes.
Given the unprecedented number of candidates, with about 300 figures competing, a surprising number of races were decisively won in the first round; with nine outright wins and the other 31 constituencies to be decided in the second round on 1 December.
Due to the boycott in 2014, some of the wining candidates in numerous constituencies won with less than 500 votes. In 2018 there’s only constituency 3rd Capital where the highest candidates in the first round got less than 500 votes. In some opposition stronghold areas the turnout was very high such as 6th Northern where Progressive Democratic Tribune Society candidate Abdulnabi Salman won with 2,244 votes.
Here is an analysis of some of the notable trends:
Past and present MPs
This was a brutal contest for MPs, with only ten incumbent deputies remaining in the contest. Only Adel al-Asoomi and Isa al-Kooheji have won outright in the first round to keep their seats.
Sixteen MPs dropped out before the official start of the contest; while a series of high-profile figures like Jamal Dawoud, Ali Bufarsan, Jamal Buhassan, Abdulhamid al-Najjar and Rua al-Haiki failed to make it into first or second place.
Several former MPs have successfully returned to the contest and in two constituencies, past and present MPs will face off in the second round, including 2nd Southern (Mohammed al-Ahmed against his predecessor Isa al-Qadhi), and 4th Southern (Mohammed al-Maarifi vs. Ali Ahmed al-Zayed). In both cases, the incumbent won significantly less votes. Meanwhile, MPs Abdulrahman Bumjaid and Abdulrahman BuAli were beaten into second place in their constituencies.
Two MPs return from the 2002 Parliament: Abdulnabi Salman won his 6th Northern contest outright; while Yousif Zainal will contest the second round in 9th Northern.
This was a relatively good result for women; with ten women still in the contest and two winning outright; Fatima al-Qatari (2nd Northern), and a long-deserved win from Fawzia Zainal (5th Southern), who is competing in her third attempt and won an outstanding 3,058 votes.
Several female candidates like Zainab Abdulamir (with 2360 votes), Dr. Masooma Abdulrahim, Sawsan Kamal, Kaltham al-Haiki and Eman Showaiter appear to be particularly strong contestants for seeking success in the second round. With two women competing against each other in in 7th Capital, the number of female MPs in 2018 looks almost certainly set to be higher than in 2014.
None of the three women from the 2014 Parliament remain in the contest, with Jamila al-Sammak and Fatima al-Asfour stepping down and Rua al-Haiki facing a heavy defeat, winning only 52 votes. Once again, no female candidates made significant headway in the Muharraq Governorate, despite an unprecedented 41 women competing nationwide after one withdrawal.
Moderate political societies
The last couple of rounds of elections have tended to see a weak showing from candidates representing progressive, nationalist or left-wing societies. This is why it was a refreshing surprise to see three candidates from the Progressive Democratic Tribune Society (Al-Minbar al-Taqaddumi) remaining in the race, including former MP Abdulnabi Salman, Sayed Falah Hashim, and Eman Showaiter (6th Northern, 5th Northern & 10th Capital).
It may be that the Democratic Tribune has benefitted from a loosening of the boycott and the absence of other opposition societies from the contest. The League broke away from other opposition societies in 2014 to return to the political process. Abdulnabi Salman won an impressive 2,244 votes in a constituency where the boycott had been strong in 2014.
MP Ali al-Atish from the moderate Shia society, Al-Rabitah, also remains in the race; as does Mohammed Darwish from the National Action Charter society (Al-Mithaq)
Islamist political societies
Candidates for Salafist society, Al-Asalah, did well, with Ahmed al-Ansari winning his 3rd Southern seat outright (formerly held by Asalah’s Abdulhalim Murad, until he stepped down); and high-profile figures Ali Ahmed Zayed and Abdulrazzaq al-Hattab passing to the second round in 4th and 6th Southern. Al Hattab dominated the race, winning 2,218 votes; more than twice as much as his closest rival. Asalah candidate MP Ali al-Muqla was beaten into third place in his 7th Muharraq constituency. If elected, cleric Mohammed al-Hussaini (1st Muharraq) could prove a close parliamentary ally for Asalah, although Sunni clerical candidates generally performed less well elsewhere.
Al-Minbar al-Islami candidate Mohammed al-Ammadi is going to second round in 10th Northern; and the National Unity Gathering’s Abdullah al-Dhawadi also performed strongly in 8th Northern.
Technocrats & municipal councilors
Municipal councilors have done well in 2018 with, at least eight councilors making it into the second round; including heads of the Northern and Southern Governorate Municipal Councils, Mohammed Buhamoud and Ahmed al-Ansari; both of whom came through with an impressive vote tally of 2,016 and 2,811 respectively. Councilor Fatima al-Qatari won her 2nd Northern seat outright.
Quite a lot of strong and visible technocratic figures didn’t make it into the second round, although there are some worthwhile mentions; like civil servant Bassim al-Maliki (10th Northern); Bahrain Chamber of Commerce member Ahmed al-Saloom (5th Capital); former head of Kingdom University Yousif Abdulghaffar; training consultant Munir Soroor; and psychologist Dr. Masooma Abdulrahim; as well as several business figures.
Results for all 40 constituencies
1st Capital: winner Adel al-Asoumi (incumbent MP – 2613 votes)
2nd Capital: Sawsan Kamal (1188) vs. Faisal Bin-Rajab (582)
3rd Capital: Mahdi Sharar (333) vs. Mamdouh al-Saleh (businessman – 329)
4th Capital: Ammar Al Bannai (journalist – 1376) vs. Abdulrahman Bumjaid (incumbent MP – 992)
5th Capital: Ahmed al-Saloom (Chamber of Commerce member – 1126) vs. Nasser al-Qaseer (incumbent MP – 766)
6th Capital: Ali al-Atish (Rabitah society, incumbent MP – 903) vs. Dr. Masooma Abdulrahim (psychologist – 892)
7th Capital: Zainab Abdulamir (2360) vs. Afaf al-Mousawi (808)
8th Capital: Fadhel Abbas (647) vs. Mohammed Ashoor (247)
9th Capital: Ammar Hussain (799) vs. Dr. Zahra Haram (343)
10th Capital: Ali Ishaqi (2182) vs. Eman Showaiter (Progressive Democratic Tribune- 1327)
1st Muharraq: Hamad al-Kooheji (3104) vs. Mohammed al-Hussaini (cleric – 2001)
2nd Muharraq: Ibrahim al-Nafeei (1138) vs. Ibrahim al-Hammadi (incumbent MP – 1043)
3rd Muharraq: Mohammed al-Abbasi (1686) vs. Mohammed Jassim al-Olaiwi (1240)
4th Muharraq: winner Isa al-Kooheji (incumbent MP – 2677)
5th Muharraq: Mahmood al-Mahmood (former MP – 1576) vs. Khalid Bu-Anq (municipal councilor – 1503)
6th Muharraq: winner Hisham al-Asheeri (1011)
7th Muharraq: Ammar Qambar (2528) vs. Yousif Abdulghaffar (academic – 2014)
8th Muharraq: Yousif al-Dhawadi (municipal councilor – 1976) vs. Abdulrahman Bu-Ali (incumbent MP – 1465)
1st Northern: Kaltham al-Haiki (721) vs. Habib Shabib (480)
2nd Northern: winner Fatima al-Qatari (municipal councilor – 524)
3rd Northern: Abdullah al-Dossary (municipal councilor – 1219) vs. Hafedh al-Dossary (736)
4th Northern: Ghazi Al Rahmah (incumbent MP – 702) vs. Nedhal a-Shomali (173)
5th Northern: Ahmed Yousif Ghuloom (607) vs. Sayed Falah Hashem (Progressive Democratic Tribune- 365)
6th Northern: winner Abdulnabi Salman (Progressive Democratic Tribune, former MP – 2244)
7th Northern: Munir Soroor (training consultant – 640) vs. Ahmed al-Damistani (businessman – 590)
8th Northern: Abdullah al-Dhawadi (NUG society – 996) vs. Abdulrahman al-Najdi (585)
9th Northern: Abbas al-Omani (1183) vs. Yousif Zainal (former MP – 1148)
10th Northern: Mohammed al-Ammadi (Minbar society, incumbent MP – 1517) vs. Bassim al-Maliki (civil servant – 1301)
11th Northern: Mohammed Buhamood (head of the Northern Governorate Municipal Council – 2016) Vs Ali al-Fadhli (1494)
12th Northern: Mahmood al-Bahrani (1441) vs. Maryam Madan (575)
1st Southern: Ahmed al-Amer (1313) vs Nasreen Maarouf (1225)
2nd Southern: Isa al-Qadhi (former MP – 2170) vs Mohammed al-Ahmed (incumbent MP – 1148)
3rd Southern: winner Ahmed al-Ansari (Asalah society, head of Southern Governorate Municipal Council – 2811)
4th Southern: Ali Ahmed Zayed (Asalah society, former MP – 1164) Vs Mohammed al-Maarifi (incumbent MP – 986)
5th Southern: winner Fawzia Zainal (3058)
6th Southern: Abdulrazzaq al-Hattab (Asalah society – 2218) vs. Mohammed Darwish (Mithaq society – 1081)
7th Southern: Ali al-Noaimi (1106) vs. Ahmed al-Tamimi (571)
8th Southern: winner Mohammed al-Sisi (1976)
9th Southern: Nawar al-Mutawwa (988) vs. Bader al-Dossary (municipal councilor – 983)
10th Southern: winner: Isa al-Dossary (40)