Results have been announced in the run-off in Bahrain’s parliamentary and municipal elections which took place on Saturday and saw another high turnout despite a boycott of the polls by some opposition groups.
Around 49 polling stations were open until 8 pm on Saturday. Bahrainis were voting to decide on 34 seats in the country’s 40-seat parliament, following a deadlock in some seats during last week’s polls, which saw a high turnout of 52.6 percent despite the boycott calls. The vote was also held to decide 21 local council seats from last week’s polls.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat at a press conference on Saturday evening following the closing of polls, Abdullah Al-Bouainain, head of Bahrain’s elections body, said polling had gone according to plan, and without any security-related incidents.
Polling stations opened and closed at their allotted times, he said, and the elections commission had also provided stations with an expected higher-than-normal turnout with further manpower to help with the counting process.
Bouainain said there had been a number of appeals following the vote on November 22, some of which had already been decided, with others to be dealt with shortly afterwards.
Speaking of reports that some candidates had withdrawn following last week’s vote, Bouainain said this was unlawful, as any candidates wishing to withdraw were required to do so before November 12.
Also speaking at the press conference on Saturday evening was Justice Minister Sheikh Khalid Bin Ali Al Khalifa.
He said the polls had decided the country’s new “political compass,” in which “all must participate.”
In a reference to groups that boycotted the vote, he said that those who did not wish to participate in the country’s political future were only “harming themselves.”
The latest vote is the first since protests in the country in 2011 by opposition groups. Since then, Bahrain has enacted several political and constitutional reforms following talks between the government and the opposition.
These included transferring powers from the head of the country’s upper house of parliament, the Shura Council—who is appointed by Royal Decree—to the elected head of the lower house of parliament, the House of Representatives.
In another change, the government’s policies are now to be put to a vote by the elected House of Representatives.
Voting constituencies were also changed, taking into account calls by the opposition to make them “more representative and balanced” with respect to the geographical distribution of the country’s population.
Source: Asharq Al-Awsat