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Independents surge ahead in Bahrain’s elections

Dismal performance by political societies as they win only one seat

Gulf News

Manama: Independents have surged ahead in Bahrain’s parliamentary elections, confirming their ascendancy over political societies and leaving them to lick their wounds.

With the announcement of the results of the first round to elect 40 lawmakers to the lower chamber of the bicameral parliament, the nine political societies that contested in the elections realised their candidates were not as popular as they thought they were.

Of the 266 candidates vying for seats in the Council of Representatives, 36 were representing political societies.

However, the results announced on Sunday showed that 23 candidates are already out of the quadrennial race and that 12 have a second chance on Saturday when voters cast their ballots to decide winners in constituencies where no candidate secured more than 50 per cent of the votes.

Only one candidate, Abdul Halim Murad, from Al Asala society, the expression of Salafism in Bahrain, succeeded in winning a seat.

It was the only win for Al Asala, which had fielded six candidates. Two are already out of the race and three will know their fate this weekend when the results of the second round are announced.

However, the worst performance was by the National Unity Assembly (NUA) and its candidates.

The society formed in 2001 fielded seven candidates in the elections and they all lost. None of them were able to reach the second round where the top two contenders in the constituency go head to head to decide the winner.

Al Watan had 10 candidates, but only two made it to the second round while the other eight lost.

The Islamic Menbar, one of the most important blocs in the 2006-2010 parliament, had five candidates, but none won and four will be carrying the society banner in the run-off vote.

Two of the four candidates fielded by the National Action Charter Society reached the second round.

The other four societies had one candidate each and three lost, while Al Wasat Al Arabi is hopeful it could win a seat in the second round.

Only six of the 40 lawmakers were known by Sunday while the names of the other 34 will be announced after the second round of votes are counted.

Voters seemed keen on changing the composition of the outgoing parliament and out of the 25 MPs who sought re-election, only three were successful in their bid and eight lost. The others will try again on Saturday.

A prominent loser is Jasem Al Saeedi, a controversial lawmaker who was elected in 2002, 2006 and 2010.

Two women, Ebtisam Hijris and Sumaya Al Jowder, also failed to win a new legislative term.

Six women candidates out of 23 have made it to the second round.

A bright of hope for women was the victory of Budoor Bin Rajab in the municipal elections who made history by becoming the first woman to win in the Northern Governorate.

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