The Kingdom of Bahrain General Election 2014 Analysis

Embassy Newsletter 25 November 2014

On the 22nd of November 2014, the Kingdom of Bahrain marked another successful milestone with their fourth General Election witnessing Bahrainis enthusiasm in exercising their democratic rights. There were 419 contenders, comprising of 266 contenders competing for parliamentary seats and 153 contenders competing for municipal council seats. The number of the candidates running for the parliamentary seats increased by 79% than the previous election in 2010 with significant presence of the female candidates in 2014.

From the 349,713 voters registered for 2014 parliamentary election, 183,936 voters cast their ballots. The final Parliamentary ­­voter turnout rate topped at 52.6%. The male voters who cast their ballots topped at 53.6%, while the rate of female voter turnout stood at 46.1%.

This year, the overall number of registered Bahraini voters abroad is 1,667, up from 1,195 in 2010. There are 29 diplomatic missions where voters casted their ballots. The embassy in Tokyo was the first to open and the embassy in Washington was the last.

Although the natural growth of the registered voters increased by almost 10%, voters who cast their ballots abroad increased by almost 40% indicating higher levels of awareness about the democratic process and the constitutional rights among Bahrainis, particularly amongst the youth.

Despite the call by some political societies for the boycott of the elections and edicts by the clerics denouncing participation, voter turnout on election day reached 52.6%. This represents a decrease of only 15% from 2010 when all political societies participated in the elections. The turnout is considered especially strong given the sustained campaign to boycott the election, including the intimidation and threats candidates and voters were subjected to. This included a series of violent attacks on candidates’ homes, businesses and on the candidates’ campaign.

Of particular note, the difference in voter turnout between 2002 (elections boycotted by opposition) and 2006 was 19% — indicating size of the opposition in Bahrain. This can be compared with the difference in voter turnout between 2010 and 2014 (elections boycotted by opposition), which was at 15%. This provides an indication that the impact of the calls to boycott and the influence the opposition has on voters has fallen.