Southern MPs Isa alQadhi (2nd), Fawzia Zainal (head of Parliament, 5th), Abdulrazzaq Hattab (6th) and Mohammed al-Sisi (8th) are all standing down in 2022; offering openings for new candidates and former MPs.
Several Southern constituencies are traditional strongholds for the Salafist Asalah society, and this society in 2022 is fielding heavyweight candidates, Adnan al-Maliki, Ahmed al-Ansari and Ali Zayid in the 1st, 3rd and 4thconstituencies. Salafist former MP Anas Buhindi is standing in 6thSouthern, raising the prospect that MPs from this ideological strand could perform well here.
3rd Southern is the only 2022 constituency where multiple political societies are going head-to-head. Along with incumbent Ahmed al-Ansari, from Asalah, Mohammed al-Rifai is representing the National Unity Gathering, and Abdullah Bu-Ghammar is from Al-Saff.
The Isa Town and Zayed Town constituencies, 1st and 2nd Southern, are among the more diverse constituencies where progressive and female candidates have often competed against each other, not always successfully.
The contests in the rural deep-south constituencies – particularly 8th, 9thand 10th – have tended to be somewhat less competitive in the past; for example, this time around 8th Southern only has three candidates. Although 10th Southern, with only around 2,500 voters, is set for a rather different 2022 contest with a crowded field of ten contestants.
Eleven out of twelve Northern MPs are standing again in 2022. Several former MPs, like Jalal Kadhim (2nd), Hamad al-Dossary (3rd), Mohammed al-Ahmed (9th), Abdulhamid al-Najjar (9th), and Mohammed Buqais (11th).
The most visible political society in this governorate is the Progressive Democratic Tribune, including two standing MPs Sayed Falah Hashem (5th) and Abdulnabi Salman (6th), along with new candidate Mahdi al-Shuwaikh (1st).
The 5th, 7th and 12th constituencies all have multiple female candidates contesting the seat.
Constituencies like 1st, 2nd and 4th in the past have been highly unpredictable, resulting from low turnouts related to opposition boycotts.
MP Kaltham Al-Haiki is standing in 2022, along with Mohammed Rabea who stood in 2018, and five other relatively untested candidates. Mahdi al-Shuwaikh represents the Progressive Democratic Tribune society in this constituency.
The 2nd constituency contest is looking somewhat more competitive, with MP Fatima Abbas standing against six other candidates, including MP from the 2014 Parliament, Jalal Kadhim.
In the 3rd constituency incumbent Abdullah al-Dossary, faces off against former MP Hamad al-Dossary, and seven other candidates.
MP Ghazi Al Rahmah is not running for the 2022 elections in the 4th constituency. Of the nine 2022 contestants in this consituency, four stood in 2018; Ali Mayouf, Amal Salman, Jihad al-Momin and Ibrahim Al Shehab. Of these four, Mayouf won the most votes in 2018, in a low-turnout contest.
Northern 5th’s Sayed Falah Hashem is standing again in 2022 against 10 relatively new faces, including four female candidates.
Along with the incumbent Abdullah Al-Dhawadi, the 8th constituency witnesses the candidacy of former Secretary General of the National Institution for Human Rights Dr. Ahmed Farhan, and Khaled al-Manasir who stood in 2018.
In the 9th constituency Incumbent Yousif Zainal faces off against former MPs Abdulhamid al-Najjar and Mohammed al-Ahmed (previously 2nd Southern) – both of whom served in the 2014-18 Parliament. Candidates Abbas al-Omani and Latifah Eid also performed well in 2018.
Incumbent Bassim al-Maliki of the 10th constituency must stand against two strongly performing former candidates, Jamil Hassan and Hisham Rabea; along with three others. While in the 11th constituency Incumbent Mohammed Buhamood must face off against former MP Mohammed Buqais, and former candidates Ali al-Fadhli and Zaid al-Anzi.
The 2014 and 2018 rounds of elections saw major changes in which MPs entered Parliament; partly because 2014 boundary changes caused the displacement of many sitting MPs and partly because in both these rounds many MPs were seen as having underperformed.
However, in 2022 nine out of ten Capital MPs are set to stand again, with the exception of long-running MP Adel al-Asoumi (1st Capital), who a court ruling prevented from standing.
The vast majority of those competing against these standing MPs are relatively unknown figures who haven’t competed in previous elections, with a few exceptions, like former MPs Ahmed Qaratah (2nd Capital) and Hassan Bukhamas (4th Capital). However, Bahrainis have a predilection for throwing out standing MPs and giving untested figures a chance, so there is everything to play for.
Throughout the entire Capital Governorate, there appears to be only one candidate formally representing a political society (Eman Showaiter – Progressive Tribune). This reflects the very poor performance of political societies in past round of elections. These societies are often perceived as an obstacle to MPs fairly representing the aspirations of local people.
The Capital Governorate is a very diverse region; from the hotels, embassies and tower-blocs of 1st Capital; to opposition-leaning areas like 3rd, 7th and 9th Capital; to traditional market areas like 2nd Capital.
Whereas in the 6th, 7th and 10th constituencies, there is fierce competition, with 13-16 candidates. The surprise departure of Adel al-Asoumi has left 1st Capital with only two candidates. There are only 4 candidates standing in 9th Capital, a constituency which in the past has seen opposition boycotts.
The 2014-18 MP for the 2nd constituency, Ahmed Qaratah had been forced to drop out of the 2018 race after several of his rivals petitioned that he was ineligible to stand, because he wasn’t living in the area. However, Qaratah has successfully applied to participate in the 2022 contest. Other than Sawsan Kamal and Ahmed Qaratah, most of the many candidates standing in this constituency are new to the contest, with the exception of Alaaldin al-Nouh.
In the 7th constituency Incumbent Zainab Abdulameer is set to compete against 15 other relatively untested candidates (Majdi al-Nasheet and Jaafar Mahfoudh have previously contested the local municipal elections). The eight female candidates in this constituency is an impressive figure.
Two women are competing in the 8th constituency, which generally hasn’t seen women participate previously.
In contrast to other governorates, a relatively high proportion, half, of the Muharraq MPs aren’t standing in 2022. Mohammed al-Abassi (3rd), Isa al-Kooheji (4th), Ammar Qambar (7th) and Yousef al-Dhawadi are all standing down.
Similar to other governorates, a large number of candidates are entirely new faces, making it likely that numerous Muharraq representatives in the incoming Parliament will be new figures. For example, in 7th Muharraq, with the current MP standing down, there are an astonishing 18 candidates rivalling to take his place.
Muharraq has tended to be quite a traditionalist part of Bahrain. The few women candidates who have stood in these constituencies haven’t tended to perform well. This could change in 2022, with five women standing in 5th Muharraq and two out of three candidates being female in 6th Muharraq.
Two MPs from earlier parliaments, Samir Khadim and Abdulrahman Bu-Ali, are standing against each other yet again in 8th Muharraq, and the Salafist former MP Ali al-Muqla has changed his constituency to 5th Muharraq (from 7th).
In the past, several constituencies in Muharraq were seen as highly competitive for the Islamist political societies, yet they hardly have made a showing in the 2022 contest.
1st Muharraq has always tended to be a highly competitive constituency, and this is certain to be the case again in 2022 with 12 candidates. Along with incumbent, Hamad al-Kooheji, cleric Mohammed al-Husseini and former municipal councillor Mohammed al-Mutawa also competed in 2018.
As MP Mohammed al-Abassi is not running in the 3rd constituency, this leaves six entirely new candidates to compete against each other. The long-standing prominent MP Isa-al-Kooheji is also not running in the 4th constituency. Hisham al-Awadhi, who came second to al-Kooheji in 2018 is worth watching, against four relatively untested rivals.
MP Sami Qambar is not running in the 7th constituency. With an astonishing 18 candidates in the contest, it’s anybody’s guess who will make it through to the second round in this constituency.
In the 8th constituency MP Yousif Al-Dhawadi is not running for the elections, yet former MPs Samir Khadim and Abdulrahman Bu-Ali have re-entered the race; offering voters the choice of whether to opt for a familiar face or offer an opportunity to one of the many other new faces.
5th constituency’s Khalid Bu-Anq is competing against former MP Ali al-Muqla, who previously represented 7th Muharraq as a member of the Salafist society, al-Asalah. This constituency in 2022 is remarkable for having five women facing off against each other, in contrast with other Muharraq constituencies where women have tended to be very few. Noura al-Khatir and Hanadi al-Jowder have competed previously.
Muharraq’s 6th constituency is set to be a relatively low-key contest, with incumbent Hesham al-Asheeri facing off against two female newcomers.