Manama: Around 200 candidates signed up their names on the first day of registration to be on the ballot in the parliamentary and municipal elections next month.
According to official figures, 16 women are among the 196 candidates who are seeking a seat in the lower house of the bicameral parliament or on one of the four municipal councils in the country.
Some of the candidates were seen queuing up in front of the registration offices well before they opened at 5 pm to start the process.
Candidates have five days to register, but many opted to take advantage of a rule that places the names of the hopefuls according to the chronological order of their registration to top the lists.
First day figures indicate that 28 candidates registered in the Capital Governorate where there will be no municipal elections after the Municipal Council was scrapped by parliament in June.
In the Muharraq Governorate, 35 parliament and 27 municipal candidates signed up during the four-hour registration window.
In the Northern Governorate, 38 parliamentary candidates and nine municipal hopefuls registered their names whereas in the Southern Governorate 37 candidates submitted applications for parliamentary seats and 22 for municipal seats.
The elections will be held on November 22 and on 29 in constituencies where there is no clear winner, the regulations state.
It will be the fourth general elections to be held in Bahrain since 2002 following a constitutional hiatus of almost three decades.
The quadrennial elections were held subsequently in 2006 and 2010. However, by-elections were held in 2011 to replace the 18 members of Al Wefaq Society who pulled out of the lower chamber in February ostensibly to protest against the way the government dealt with protestors during the dramatic events that unfolded in the country.
Some opposition societies boycotted the elections in 2002, but reversed their decision in 2006 and 2010 in which Al Wefaq won 17 and 18 of the 40 seats.
Al Wefaq and four smaller political societies this week said that they would again boycott the elections, arguing that they wanted greater political and constitutional changes in the country.
However, Shaikh Khalid Bin Ali Al Khalifa, the justice minister, on Wednesday said that the calls for the boycott did not seem to dampen enthusiasm for the elections.
“What I see today on the first day of the registration is that many people have submitted their applications for the parliamentary and municipal elections,” he said. “There is a constitutional right for every citizen to vote and run in the elections and the competent committee is upholding this right. We see there is participation through all levels. If there are people who have issues, they should address them.”
Shaikh Khalid said that no candidate would be allowed to use the mosque, including delivering sermons, during the campaigning and the election process.
“We will deal with every single violation of the law,” he said as he visited a registration centre.