Bahrain will hold parliamentary elections today amid large crackdowns on political dissent by the ruling monarchy. Massive protests rocked the
Bahrain will hold parliamentary elections today amid large crackdowns on political dissent by the ruling monarchy.
Massive protests rocked the Gulf nation when in 2011 the country’s Shia minority marched for more representation and equality. This turned into a revolt against the Sunni monarchy when King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa declared martial law, meeting the protests with night raids and tear gas.
While large-scale protests are no longer occurring, fear of another uprising has led the monarchy to stifle opposition in the media and in politics. In recent years, Bahrain’s only independent newspaper was shut down, and both Shia and leftist political parties have been dissolved. Indeed, candidates from those parties are barred from running in today’s election, leading to calls for a boycott by Shia citizens.
As such, expect voter-turnout among disillusioned Shia to be quite low today. However, aside from a boycott, Bahrain’s Shia population has limited options. In the short-term, even small-scale protests will likely be met with government crackdowns. In the long-term, chances of a true Bahraini democracy also looks bleak, given the monarchy’s international support from the Gulf Cooperation Council and the US.
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