Manama: The Nationalist Democratic Rally Society will contest in the 2010 parliamentary elections, the society has said, putting an end to wild speculations that it could boycott the polls as it did in 2002.

The society which has no representative in the 40-seat lower house said that it would either field its own candidates or support contestants either running as independents or from other political formations, but within a large alliance.

The decision to participate was approved by the general assembly following a debate on the merits of participation, society members said.

“The society members discussed extensively all options regarding the parliamentary polls and agreed on upholding the achievements accomplished so far. The elections are a national challenge in light of the difficulties surrounding political activism and the decision to contest in them was taken to reinforce the presence of the Nationalist Democratic Rally Society at the core of the nation’s issues,” the society said.

The society boycotted the elections in 2002, the first to be held following a three-decade political hiatus in Bahrain, calling for more constitutional reforms.

However, it reversed its decision in 2006 and contested in the parliamentary elections, but without winning any seat.

The society, like other opposition formations, wanted support from Al Wefaq, the largest political and religious society, by helping them in some constituencies. However, Al Wefaq refused to give up any “secure” seat and eventually got 17 of its 18 candidates elected.

The smaller opposition groups are looking once more for support from Al Wefaq in the 2010 elections, but influential leaders from the society are likely to veto such a possibility.

Bahrain has 17 political societies, ranging from deeply religious to overtly liberal. However, only three societies, Al Wefaq (religious Shiite), Al Asala (Salafi) and the Islamic Menbar (Muslim Brotherhood) have representatives in the lower house.

The National Democratic Action Society (NDAS), the largest non-religious society, will decide on Saturday whether to contest in the elections. In 2006, some of its candidates lost in the second round after a tense finishing. The society in 2002 did not run, arguing that the constitutional reforms needed to be expanded.