Reflecting on Bahrain’s Parliamentary Elections: A Front Line View

8. 12. 2014 Author: Mitchell Belfer For observers of Middle Eastern political life, there is something to celebrate in a region usually noted for wanton violence—Bahrain held a very successful parliamentary election.

I had the pleasure to belong to a select group of European decision makers and members of civil society that travelled to Bahrain to witness the lead-up and execution of the elections. And what a sight it was. The raw energy of the people was intoxicating. From all walks of life: Arab, European, African, women, men, Shias, Sunnis, Christians and Jews, Bahrainis voted-in their next legislative body (2014-2018); an amazing mixture of people from across the sectarian and social strata. Our impression of these elections was strong—that the country is doing its best to keep the stride of democracy strong. It led us to the conclusion that the elections were fair and free and corresponded to the conditions of democratic systems. There is, of course, much that still needs to be done in Bahrain and the region. However, given the context of these elections – with an Islamic Republic (Iran) trying to disrupt Bahrain’s political order and an Islamic State wrecking havoc in Iraq and Syria – it is time, as Europeans, to push for the region to follow the Bahrain model and reject those alternative models (Iran, ISIS, Syria) that pride themselves on the violence they use to repress their publics,’ after all, there can be no negotiations with terrorists.