Elections: Opportunity to Eradicate Violence
It is most likely that the council and parliamentary elections,
expected to take place this month, will be affected by the security
confrontations, which have yet to be resolved judicially. The repercussions
of the current unrest in the media, human rights and political fields
are also expected to leave their mark on the upcoming elections.
The elections come at a time when the implications of recent violence
are on-going forcing some observers to anticipate changing the elections
date. However, the Government confirmed that the elections will
take place on time.
Elections are clearly an essential part of the democratic process,
and the appropriate channel for expressing opinions and political
positions, as well as a means of protecting the interests of groups
and political parties. Elections are an alternative route to violent
change, through which interests are protected and rights are obtained
by peaceful competition.
Participation in the administration of public affairs is one
of the fundamental human rights. The Bahraini constitution states
that citizens, both male and female, have the right to participate
in public affairs and enjoy political rights, including the right
to vote and nominate.
More than ever before, Bahrain is currently in desperate need
for the elections to be a success. This is due to the presence of
violence as an alternative for what has so far been achieved, and
the doubts surrounding the political process as a whole. Although
there are indications that the upcoming elections will be successful,
it is necessary to remember that any setbacks in the political process
will be considered a success for the extremists’ choice.
Successful elections this time mean an increase in the number
of voters and the possibility of women winning seats in Parliament.
The elections success will also depend on whether it results in
a big change in the performance of MPs, and their relations with
the Executive Authority and the extent of its flexibility.
In order for the elections to be a success and gain local and
international recognition, they must be credible. Elections can
only be described as free if they allow the opportunity for the
public to be expressed fully. This necessitates guaranteeing freedom
of: expression, media, assembly, movement and establishing societies,
as well as providing security for people during the elections, and
allowing them to vote without fear or pressure.
Moreover, in order to guarantee the integrity of the elections,
two conditions must be met: the first relates to procedures, which
include equality, confidentiality and ensuring that the elections
take place periodically. The second concerns the results, which
should reflect the voters’ free will.
Monitoring is an effective means of guaranteeing credible elections,
as the presence of monitors decreases the possibility of fraud,
instils trust in voters and increases their ability to participate
in elections, and to freely express their political will without
any doubts or fear.
In the 2002 and 2006 elections, monitoring was limited to local
societies represented by the Bahrain Human Rights Society and the
Transparency Society. These two societies, as well as the National
Institution for Human Rights are expected to monitor the 2010 elections.
Government apparatuses are also required to provide all the necessary
help to the monitors so they can perform their duty correctly. Monitoring
should cover all stages of the elections, including the campaigning
stage, registration of voters, voting, counting, results and follow
ups. Independent courts should also play an important role in elections
through prompt dealing with voters’ complaints.
Public demands can be fulfilled through elected representatives
who should reflect the aspirations of their voters and defend their
interests inside Parliament. MPs should also reassure voters that
their demands will be presented and followed-up in Parliament. This
requires them to have a high level of performance and awareness,
in order to translate their slogans into actions. Additionally,
bylaws that sometimes hinder the work of MPs should be amended.
It should also be stressed that constructive cooperation between
the House of Representatives and the Shura Council on one hand,
and the Government on the other hand, is essential so that laws
can be passed quickly and delays be avoided, such as the delay in
passing the Press Law.
The integrity of the upcoming elections, the acceptance of results,
the seriousness and mature performance of MPs to represent the voters
effectively, and the cooperation of the Executive and Legislative
Authorities should result in a decrease in violence, whatever its