SHAFAQNA – “The new distribution of electoral constituencies is worse than it was in 2010 elections”, said Majeed Milad, member of the Secretariat in Al Wefaq National Islamic Society. Milad spoke at a press conference in Al Wefaq Headquarters in Manama on Wednesday, highlighting the big differences between vote counts in electoral districts in Bahrain.
Out of the 40 electoral constituencies, the opposition can win in 16 constituencies and would have to compete in 2 others. Milad explained comparison between the 2014 and 2010 distribution revealed that 13,600 votes the opposition won in 2010 have been reallocated to other districts so that the opposition could not benefit from this number.
Milad also pointed out that 14 out of the total 18 constituencies the opposition can win in are above the average vote count for a constituency in Bahrain. Whilst 11 out of the remaining 22 constituencies, which are known to be mostly pro-government, are below average vote count. (See illustrations 1, 2, 3 and 4). Thereby, allocating more representatives to smaller districts where voters support the government and fewer representatives to bigger districts where voters are critic to the government. This gerrymandering produces a comfortable majority for the government inside the legislative council.
He said the opposition is demanding equal vote weight for all citizens, with a deviant from average vote count of no more than 5%, in accordance with international standards. He outlined that the deviant from average vote count rises as high as 141% in the 11th constituency in the Northern Governorate which is mostly anti-Government. On the other hand, the deviant goes down to 27% in the 10th constituency of the Southern Governorate which is mostly pro-Government. (See illustrations 3 and 4).
Given the current gerrymandering, the total number of votes the opposition would win would make 55% of all vote count, but would be represented by only 45% inside the Council of Representatives. Nonetheless, voting count figures are burdened with at least 95,000 foreigners who were given Bahraini nationality against the law. Statistics reveal that this number has a 30-40% impact on the elections, a critical goal of the Government.
“The unfair allocation of electoral constituencies is core to the Authority’s project and has a significant impact on the national decision-making on behalf of the people”, Milad said, “this will also affect decisions on constitutional amendments and government gaining a vote of confidence”.
The Bahraini Authorities have announced that elections will take place in November 2014 although the political crisis is pulling on other problems in human rights and wider official discrimination and sectarianism. Yet, Bahrain has failed to live up to its pledges to reform and implement recommendations of the UN’s Universal Periodic Review and the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry. Bahrain has been widely criticized for its appalling human rights record. The international community has also repeatedly called on Bahrain to engage in a real dialogue with opposition groups to reach a political settlement.
Source : Alwefaq