Bahrain Elections Preview
"As Bahrain heads toward elections for the lower house of parliament in September or October, a climate of public unhappiness with the incumbents prevails. The parliament elected four years ago was dominated by Islamists, including the Shi’i opposition al-Wefaq Islamic Society on one side and the two Sunni groups al-Minbar Islamic Society (an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood) and al-Asala Political Society (Salafi), which allied with the government, on the other. Most secular and leftist candidates, who probably would have allied with al-Wefaq to form a majority bloc, did not win seats due to government interference.
"This year’s elections will see a similar cast of characters, as all these blocs will run again and others, such as the opposition Haqq movement, will stay out as it did last time. But a large number of independent candidates, including women and businesspeople, are expected to run. In 2006 the government discouraged businesspeople from running, but this time they seem determined to get into the game and put up their own candidates rather than lobbying for the support of others. Kadhem al-Sa’eed, a member of the board of the Bahrain Chamber of Commerce and Industry, recently announced that he would run. Given the public’s sense that those elected last time accomplished little, new candidates running either on lists or as independents stand a good chance, making the outcome of the elections unpredictable."