Bahrain will today hold general legislative elections for all 40 seats of the island’s Council of Representatives. This election is
Bahrain will today hold general legislative elections for all 40 seats of the island’s Council of Representatives.
This election is marked by continued erosion of Bahrain’s civilian governance. Currently, the ruling Sunni-led monarchy has imprisoned opposition leaders including Ali Salman, leader of the major Shia opposition party al-Wefaq. This follows the 2011 Pearl uprising, where Bahrain began a campaign of political repression with heavy restrictions on independent media and political dissent. Likewise, the government closed the main independent journal al-Wasat in 2017 making all media in the country now state-run.
Do not expect any meaningful change to the status quo from today’s elections. Instead, Sunni leaders maintained government control will likely invite stronger relations with Israel, including a continuation of the Abraham Accords inked in 2020, normalizing Israeli-Bahrani relations. Likewise, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fresh off a victory in the Israeli elections last week, he is likely to strengthen ties with Sunni-led states in the Gulf as a bulwark against its Shia rival, Iran. In the long-term, concerns about Iran’s growing nuclear capabilities and doubts about American regional security commitments will lead to regional actors continuing to band together, with a Bahrain-Israel trade deal currently in the works.