BAHRAIN
Parliamentary Chamber: Al-Nuwab

ELECTIONS HELD IN 2002

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Chamber:
  Al-Nuwab


Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  24 October 2002


Purpose of elections:

  For the first time since the constitutional Kingdom was proclaimed on 14 February 2002 and parliament restored, elections were held for all the seats in the Representative Council.


Background and outcome of elections:

  Bahrainis voted for their first Parliament in almost 30 years on 24 October 2002 in a landmark election overshadowed by an opposition boycott. The country's last Parliament was dissolved two years after it was set up in 1973, mainly due to differences between the government and independent MPs.

The Gulf Arab Kingdom, ruled by the Sunni Muslim Al Khalifa family for two centuries, voted in the context of the comprehensive political reforms launched by the Amir, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa after he came to power in 1999. On 14 and 15 February 2001, in the first referendum since independence from Great Britain in 1971, an overwhelming majority (98.4 per cent) of Bahrain's voters approved the National Action Charter. This instrument introduced constitutional changes and economic and social reforms and provided for a partially elected Parliament, a constitutional monarchy and an independent judiciary.

One year later, on 14 February 2002, the Amir officially proclaimed Bahrain a constitutional Kingdom and himself as the King. On the same date, he announced that municipal elections would be held on 9 May 2002 and legislative elections on 24 October 2002.

The election was also the first time that women in Bahrain were able to vote and stand as candidates in a national poll. Of the 177 candidates, eight were women.

Some 650,000 Bahraini citizens were eligible to vote and about 53 per cent turned out, despite the call to boycott the elections made by four opposition organisations, mainly Shia. The opposition protested against the constitutional amendments that gave the Shoura Council, composed of 40 members appointed by the King, legislative powers equal to those of the 40-seat elected assembly. Nevertheless, the political organisations which decided to boycott the elections stressed that they would continue to support the reform project.

The 15-day electoral campaign, passed off peacefull.

In the first round of the elections, only 16 of the 40 seats at stake were filled. The second round of voting was held one week later, when twenty-one more candidates were elected, in addition to three elected unopposed. The Representative Council will be all male, following the defeat of the only two women who made it to the second round.

Officials results showed that Islamic societies won 19 seats, independent candidates had 18 seats, while liberals won the three remaining seats. Political parties are prohibited in the country.

On 16 November 2002, the King appointed the 40 members of the Shoura Council. The Council will not have any representative for the Islamic societies, whereas the Christian and Jewish minorities will be represented.

On 14 December 2002, the new Parliament held its inaugural ceremony which was attended by ministers, ambassadors and heads of political societies except those which had boycotted the elections.

Mr. Khaleifa al-Zahrani was elected the new Speaker of the Representatives Council, while Dr Faisal Al Mousawi was appointed to chair the Shura Council.

STATISTICS
Round no 1 (24 October 2002): Elections results  
Number of registered electors 650 000
Voters 53%

Comments:
  Political parties are prohibited in the country.
Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 40
Women: 0
Percent of women: 0


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Copyright 2002 Inter-Parliamentary Union