The two Sunni political groups, Al Asala Islamic Society and Al Manber Islamic Society, which had strong representation in the 2002 and 2006 parliaments, failed miserably. This was mainly because Shias fully supported Al Wefaq candidates, while Sunnis opted for independents. Only two of Al Asala MPs made it to the House, while so far no one from Al Manber won. The two groups, which had held a combined 15 seats in the outgoing assembly, will now have to hope for the best in the run-off to be held in nine constituencies on October 30.
Al Wefaq won all the 18 seats it contested, out of a total of 40, election officials said. It held 17 seats in the outgoing assembly.
Eleven independents, including Latifa Al Qoud who was elected unopposed, also made it to the House.
In the run-off, Al Asala will be contesting in two constituencies, while Al Manber is running in four constituencies. Even if they win, their representation will be much less than before.
The Justice Ministry said that the turnout was 67 per cent, down from 72 per cent in 2006.
“Most striking to me is that the turnout was quite high,” said Jane Kinninmont, an analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit.
Two groups loosely allied with the government, Al Asala and Al Manbar, suffered the most in the poll as several seats they contested went to independent candidates.
Observers said that in the run-up to the polls there had been less cooperation between Al Asala and Al Manbar than during the last election in 2006, when they agreed not to compete against each other in some districts.
Observers said the power balance in parliament could change considerably if secular group Waad, which has both Sunni and Shia members, wins two seats in the second round after its third candidate lost his district.
This would give the opposition half of all the seats in parliament.
Bahrain’s Justice Minister, Shaikh Khaled bin Ali Al Khalifa, said he expected “only a number of infringements” and hailed the voting as fair.
“We really aren’t satisfied with the outcome,” said Al Wefaq leader Sheikh Ali Salman. “We are the majority of the country and a majority of the voters, but we don’t get a majority of the seats. Why is that? It is clear that the government is doing this to keep us from gaining a bigger voice. We won’t be satisfied until the election rules have changed.”
Top Shia cleric and MP Sheikh Ali Salman hailed the results and called for a “more positive” stance from the government. “The most important message for the government is that Al Wefaq (INAA) is the largest political association in Bahrain,” said Salman, who is also the head of INAA.
“The people’s will must be respected and dealt with positively.”
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