A Bahraini voter casts his ballot at a polling station in the Bahraini city of Al-Muharraq, north of Manama on November 24, 2018, as they wait to cast their vote in the parliamentary election. Image Credit: AFP

Manama: Bahrainis go to the polls Saturday in run-off elections after November 25 parliamentary elections failed to produce clear winners in the majoritity of constituencies.

Under Bahrain’s election laws, a second round is held in constituencies where no winner was declared in the first round.

On Saturday, 31 of the 40 constituencies will be decided by run-offs between the two top scorers in each of them.

The first round of voting proved damaging to incumbant lawmakers and established political groups who recorded major losses.

Only two of the 23 lawmakers in the outgoing the 40-member Council of Representatives, who sought to keep their seats, won their constituencies.

Adel Al Assoomi confirmed his dominance in the first constituency in the Capital Governorate by winning again, replicating his triumphs in 2006, 2010 and 2014.

Securing 75.21 per cent of the votes indicated how popular he is and how easy it was for him to race ahead of his two opponents.

Eisa Al Kooheji carried the fourth constituency of the Muharraq Governorate by getting 57.41 per cent of the ballots.

For 12 ex-lawmakers, their loss was an exit they did not expect, particularly that they were under the illusion they were competing against political newcommers.

For some, the bitterness of the defeat was compounded by the “shockingly” low number of votes they received from their electorate.

The defeat of the former lawmakers was across the four governorates, signalling that the rejection was on a national scale.

Four were voted out in the Northern Governorate, three in the Capital Governorate, three in the Southern Governorate and two in Muharraq Governorate.

Nine former MPs will have a second chance to hold on to their seats and must beat their opponents in the run-off elections on December 1.

On the winning side, the Progressive Tribune, a liberal society, made a comeback thanks to the election of Abdul Nabi Salman, a member of the 2002-2006 parliament.

The political society could have a second winner if Eman Shwaitar wins in the capital.

She would be the third woman to win a seat in elections.

Al Asalah, one of the major societies in the parliament in its early terms, had only one winner while the other Islamist Society Al Menbar failed to secure a single seat.

The fact that only two societies got one winner each and five others failed to get any confirms the trend by Bahrainis to shun political groups and to opt for individuals who do not have to go through cumbersome approvals and complex approaches.

“While political societies and civil society organisations sing the virtues of democracy, we notice they are the first ones to run away from democracy to the Imam,” Salah Al Jowder, an activist, said. in reference to the tendency of ‘religiousity’ to impact politics.

“They turn against their political partners whenever they disagree with them and they do not accept divergent opinions or respect the law and regulations. They do not care about security and stability and present their views through arrogant slogans, driven by a superiority complex.”

In the second round, the Islamic Menbar and the National Unity Assembly could also get their names on the scoreboard if their candidates win in the run-offs.

Women did fairly with at least three making it to the parliament, the same number as in the outgoing Council of Representatives, but so far political societies did not have an y role in their political empowerment.

The highly-cherished promises of the “Pink Wave” raised by the record number of women who signed up to run in the elections has not fully materialised, but hope remains in the second round and beyond.

“It is only the beginning and there will be successes later,” Aliya Al Junaid, a first-time candidate who did not garner enough votes, said.

“It is a great experience and I learned how to be stronger and more self-confident,” she posted on her Instagram account hours after she learned she did not make it.