Voters getting ready to cast their ballots. Image Credit: BNA

Manama: Bahraini voters are today returning to polling stations to elect the 34 lawmakers who will join the six elected last Saturday in the new parliament.

The run-off voting was forced after none of the candidates in the 34 electoral constituencies was able to secure the more than 50 per cent vote required to win.

The top two contenders in each of the constituencies are running head-to-head in the runoff voting expected to confirm the inexorable emergence of independent candidates.

Only one of the six lawmakers voted in last week is affiliated with a society while the other five are independents.

Irreconcilable divergences between Islamist societies, particularly Al Menbar and Al Asala, and, more importantly, a general dissatisfaction with the performance of their representatives in the 2010-2014 legislative term are often cited as the main reasons for their dismal show last week.

Al Asala, the expression of Salafism in Bahrain, fielded six candidates, all men, but only Abdul Halim Murad was able to win in the first round. Two other candidates lost out and the other three candidates are contesting in the runoff.

Al Menbar did not win in any constituency in the first round, but has four candidates vying for seats in the lower chamber of the bicameral parliament.

Another focus in the second round of the quadrennial elections, the fourth since the promulgation of a new constitution in 2002 that allowed women to vote and run in nationwide parliamentary and municipal polls, is the performance of women.

Only one woman in the municipal elections, Badoor Bin Rajab, was able to secure a seat while none of the female contenders in the parliamentary elections was elected.

As Bahrainis return to the polling stations, the chances for five women to win seats in the parliamentary and for six women in the municipal elections looked positive.

Jameela Al Sammak had 963 votes in the first round while her rival, Emad Al Sayyed, had 315. Another woman, Rua Al Hayki had 718 votes , but her rival Mohammad Al Asfoor had 323.

The polling stations are open from 8 am until 8 pm. The results are expected to be announced late in the evening or early on Sunday morning.

Bahrainis abroad cast their ballots on Tuesday in 29 diplomatic missions.

With the formal formation of the Council of Representatives, the lower chamber, the names of the members of the Shura Council, the upper chamber, will be announced to pave the way for a new four-year parliament term.

The government is expected to hold its last weekly session on Sunday before it submits its resignation ahead of the cabinet reshuffle and the drafting of a new action plan for the next four years that will be presented to the parliament.

The opening session of the parliament is scheduled for December 14.