Bahraini general election, 2014

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Bahraini general election, 2014

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All 40 seats to the lower house

  First party Second party Third party
  No image.png No image.png No image.png
Leader Ghanim Al Buaneen Salah Ali
Party Independents Al Asalah Al-Menbar Islamic Society
Last election 17 3 2
Seats won 37 2 1
Seat change +20 -1 -1
Emblem of Bahrain.svg
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General elections were held in Bahrain on 22 November 2014, with a second round on 29 November in constituencies where no candidate received at least 50% of the vote.[1][2] The elections were boycotted by the Shiite Islamist opposition.[3] The government announced the voter turnout as 52.6%,[4] although the opposition claimed it was only 30%.[5]

Independents won 37 of the 40 seats with Sunni Islamists losing two of their five seats. The number of Shiite MPs fell to 14 as a result of the opposition boycott. Female representation was reduced from four to three.[6][7]

Electoral system[edit]

The forty members of the Council of Representatives are elected in single-member constituencies using the two-round system.[8] Voters and candidates must be Bahrani citizens and at least 20 years old.[8] Non-citizens, primarily migrant workers from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who migrated to Bahrain in recent decades, make up more than half of the population.[9]


Politics of Bahrain takes the form of an Executive Monarchy where the hereditary ruler, King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, exercises significant authority in the context of the 2002 constitution and a partially elected parliament. Politics takes a sectarian element as well, as the King is Sunni Muslim whilst a majority of Bahraini citizens are Shi'ite Muslims.

The first elections in 2002 were boycotted by the most popular political parties, including the Shiite Islamist Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society. Voter turnout was 53%, with the highest number of seats won by the conservative Salafist Al Asalah Islamic Society and the Islamic Forum, who each won 6 seats each from the 40 elected.

Al-Wefaq lifted their boycott in the next elections in 2006, although the breakaway Haq Movement for Liberty and Democracy continued to call for a boycott. Voter turnout increased to 72%, with Al-Wefaq winning 17 of the 40 seats and Sunni Islamists from Al Asalah and the Muslim Brotherhood-aligned Al Menbar Islamic Society winning 12 in total. However, the King's uncle Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa continued as Prime Minister, with around half of the cabinet drawn from the ruling Al Khalifa family.

The 2010 election saw the Sunni Islamists lose most of their seats to independents. Al-Wefaq took 64% of the vote despite the arrest of opposition spokespersons and allegations of vote rigging. However, they but only increased their total to 18 seats due to unequal electoral boundaries.[10] Two months later, the Arab Spring protests started in Tunisia, spreading to Bahrain in February 2011 with the start of the Pearl uprising. In a brutal crackdown backed by 1,500 troops from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the government cleared the main protest site at the Pearl Roundabout. All 18 members of Al-Wefaq resigned from parliament and the party was temporarily banned. The vacant seats were won by independents in the subsequent by-elections.


A record 266 candidates stood for election to the 40 seats, including a record 22 women.[3] Only 36 of these candidates represented political parties, with the remaining 230 being independents.[11] The candidates were described as being "mostly Sunni", despite the country's Shia majority.[12] Opposition media said most of these were "random unknowns" who were just running a "good package" that included "$150,000 a year, a generous pension plan, a diplomatic passport and a car".[13]

In October 2014 five opposition parties, including Al Wefaq and the leftist al Wa'ad, announced that they would boycott the elections, claiming that they would not be fair and the election was an attempt to establish "absolute rule in Bahrain".[14][15]

Nine political parties in total contested the elections.[11] The Al Menbar Islamic Society formed a coalition called the 'Al-Fateh Coalition' with three other political groups: the National Unity Gathering, al Meethaq and al Wasat.[16] Al Asalah ran alone as did the secular al Watan.


The first round saw only six candidates elected, with 34 seats going forward to a second round on 29 November.[17] The six candidates included one from al Asalah and five independents.[5] Al Asalah had three candidates through to the second round, Al Menbar had four, with two each from al Meethaq, Wasat and al Watan and one from Al Wasat Al Arabi.[16][11]

The second round saw victories for only two candidates from the political societies - one from al Asalah and one from al Menbar, leaving both Islamist groups down one MP. The largest gains were for independents, 14 of whom were from the Shiite majority.[6] Only 10 of the 40 elected MPs were outgoing members of the previous parliament. Of the 23 female candidates, only three were elected (one fewer than in 2010).[7]

e • d Summary of the 22 and 29 November 2014 Council of Representatives of Bahrain elections results
Party Ideology Candidates Elected - 1st round Run off Elected - 2nd round Elected - Total Elected - Previous Elected - Change
Al Asalah Sunni Salafist 6 1 3 1 2 3 -1
Al-Menbar Islamic Society Sunni Islamist 5 - 4 1 1 2 -1
Al Meethaq Liberal 3 - 2 - - - -
Al Wasat 4 - 2 - - - -
Al Watan 10 - 2 - - - -
Al Wasat al Arabi 1 - 1 - - - -
National Unity Gathering 7 - - - - - -
Al Wefaq Shia Islamist - - - - - 18 -18
Independents Various 230 5 54 32 37 17 +20
Total 266 6 68 34 40 40
Source: "Bahrain's political societies lose big in polls". Gulf Daily News. 30 November 2014.


After the election of members of the Council of Representatives, the King appointed the 40 members of the Consultative Council and the National Assembly was sworn in for a new term on 14 December. [18] The government resigned on 30 November with a cabinet reshuffle announced on 7 December.[19] [20]


  1. ^ Kingdom of Bahrain: Election for Majlis al-Nuwab (Council of Representatives) IFES
  2. ^ "Bahrain 'fully ready for elections'". Gulf News. 21 November 2014.
  3. ^ a b "A day of firsts in Bahrain elections". Gulf News. 21 November 2014.
  4. ^ "Justice Minister hails successful parliamentary and municipal polls". Bahrain News Agency. 29 November 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Bahrain gears up for run-off elections". Al Jazeera. 28 November 2014.
  6. ^ a b "Bahrain: 14 Shiite Candidates Win Seats After Runoff Elections". Associated Press. 30 November 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Bahrain's political societies lose big in polls". Gulf News. 1 December 2014.
  8. ^ a b Electoral system IPU
  9. ^ See Demographics of Bahrain
  10. ^ "Bahrain set for first election since 2011 uprising". Financial Times. 21 November 2014.
  11. ^ a b c "Independents surge ahead in Bahrain's elections". Gulf News. 24 November 2014.
  12. ^ "Widespread unrest continues in Bahrain". Al Bawaba. 26 November 2014.
  13. ^ "Bahrain vote: The rise of the 'random unknowns'". Middle East Eye. 21 November 2014.
  14. ^ Bahrain opposition groups announce elections boycott BBC News, 11 October 2014
  15. ^ "Politics as usual: Boycott makes no difference for Bahrain's female candidates". James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University. 29 November 2014.
  16. ^ a b "Bahrain elections – what happened to the political societies?". Citizens for Bahrain. 27 November 2014.
  17. ^ "Polling centres across Bahrain have closed". Bahrain News Agency. 29 November 2014.
  18. ^ "Bahrain convenes 'new look' parliament". Al Jazeera. 14 December 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  19. ^ "Bahrain cabinet resigns". Gulf News. 30 November 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
  20. ^ "Bahrain announces cabinet reshuffle". World Bulletin. 7 December 2014. Retrieved 14 December 2016.

External links[edit]