Manama: Al Asala and the Islamic Menbar, the two biggest parties which lost in the first round of the parliamentary elections last week, have agreed to join forces to guarantee their chairmen winning.
Al Asala, the flagship of Salafism in Bahrain, and the Islamic Menbar, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, had dismal results on October 23 and lost five constituencies in Muharraq and the southern districts, to independent candidates.
Al Asala, already assured of one constituency where Adel Al Mouawda, its veteran politician, ran unchallenged, managed to win only one more seat and to push two candidates to the second round.
The Islamic Menbar did not win any seat and now hopes to reverse its fortunes in the second round where it has five of its initial candidates.
The two societies had a powerful presence in the 2006-2010 lower chamber with a combined total of 15 politicians elected mainly because of their election alliance.
However, the two Sunni Islamist societies did not join forces this year and ended up with very bad results.
"We have worked out a new arrangement," Ganem Al Buainian, the head of Al Asala, said. "We will support each other to ensure that the heads of both societies are elected. This arrangement is not targeting the other candidates, but aims to boost our chances.”
The alliance between the two societies does not extend to the other constituencies in which both societies have candidates. The bitter rivalry between the two religious societies has fueled speculation about their relationship with the community and the unexpected rise of independent candidates.
"It is always better to elect an independent candidate who tends to be closer to the community and to make relevant decisions more easily," said Adel Al Assoomi, an independent candidate who twice beat a challenger from the Islamic Menbar, to carry the first constituency of the capital.
"Societies have to go through many thick layers before making decisions. They do not have the liberty to move forward quickly enough."
Mohammad Bouflasa, a Bahraini who supports Al Assoomi, claimed the agenda of the two societies does not benefit the community. "I often wonder what they have achieved for the people, and I find no easy answer. They might have the money, but it’s not exactly being used for the welfare of their constituents," he said at a rally on Thursday.