Billboards carrying pictures of candidates running for Bahrain's legislative elections are seen on the streets of Isa Town south of Manama on November 22, 2018. Image Credit: AFP

Manama: Bahraini voters are heading to polling stations on Saturday to elect the 40 lawmakers who will make up the new Council of Representatives, the lower chamber in the kingdom’s bicameral parliament.

Independent candidates are more likely, thanks to their numbers and their aggressive campaigns, to continue their domination of the Council and to leave political groups to, lick their wounds, once again.

Speaking to Gulf News, former MP Ali Matar, explains why this is the trend.

“The need for consensus within political groups impedes their ability to operate effectively. Also other political groups may obstruct or stall their work for political reasons.”

REG_181123 National Unity Assembly supporters

Independents do not need to operate within the framework set by societies for its members and this affords them an enviable ease and speed of action, he added.

In the elections on Saturday, political heavyweights such as Al Asalah, with four candidates, and Al Menbar, with two, will again be there, but this time, they will be up against candidates fielded by the liberal Progressive Tribune Society, the National Unity Assembly, Al Meethaq, Islamic Al Saf and the Islamic Rabta.

Because no political alliances have formed between the main political groups, it is much harder for these groups to compete with the wave of young and passionate independents emerging.

Bahrain first held parliamentary polls in 2002 after King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa launched sweeping constitutional reforms.

The first elections were held in 2002 after In the 2002 elections, political societies won 19 seats, independent candidates had 18, and liberals three.

In the 2006 elections, saw a gradual rise of Sunni and Shiite Islamist societies.

Anti-government protests which erupted in 2011 caused the largest political bloc, Al Wefaq, to pull out from elections, triggering by-elections.

In 2016 Al Wefaq was ordered by the government to dissolve accusing it of inciting violence and encouraging demonstrations against the government and seeking to foment sectarian strife in the country.

Al Wefaq was largely made up of Shiite Islamists which the government accuses of collaborating with “foreign entities” in a allusion to Iran.