Bahrain Elections ?
By Micah Halpern
Sunday October 24, 2010
Bahrain held elections yesterday. Well, sort of elections. Bahranians cast their votes for their 40 seat Lower Parliament. 318,000 eligible voters were asked to select from the 140 candidates standing for election.
Do not kid yourself - there is no democracy in Bahrain. The people might elect the Lower Parliament, but there is also an Upper Parliament of 40 all appointed by the King. The Prime Minister is the King's uncle and has been in position since 1971.
In Bahrain the royal family has been in place since 1783 and they are not about to give up that place. The royal family of Bahrain is Sunni, 60%-70% of the people of Bahrain are Shiite.
Bahrain is a strong US ally in the region and the US Navy's 5th Fleet is hosted there. But despite its periodic liberal tone, Bahrain is not a democracy.
There has been serious tension in Bahrain recently and many Shiites have been arrested. Shiites are arguing that they are being discriminated against when it comes to getting jobs. The largest employer in Bahrain is the defense system and the armed forces has almost entirely purged of Shiites. Today only about 3% of the army is Shiite and they are all in low level positions. The army was purged to solidify and prevent potential insurrection, revolt and coup.
There is very little chance that Bahrain will change and liberalize on its own in the near future. And there is very little chance of a successful overthrow of the regime. Do not expect to see any change from Bahrain.