Democracy Comes to Bahrain . . . At Last
The New York Times
November 27, 2006
By HASSAN M. FATTAH
Shiite opposition candidates won 16 of the 17 seats they contested in Saturday’s parliamentary elections in Bahrain, the country’s election commission said Sunday.
The opposition now holds 40 percent of the elected Parliament’s 40 seats, with the 17th contested seat to be decided in a runoff on Dec. 2.
But leaders of the predominantly Shiite opposition party, the Wefaq National Islamic Society, said the gains, which were expected, might not translate into much political power. Government loyalists may retain control of much of the remainder of the lower house, depending on the outcome of the runoff. Furthermore, the upper house, which is appointed by King Hamad al-Khalifa, can overrule any act of the lower house. . .
Michael Young was writing recently:
Within the next decade, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, but also Jordan and Syria, are liable to face considerable instability unless they can reform and become more democratic. To regard the Arab state system as stable in its mediocrity is to misread the recent past. On even the most basic of political issues, namely leadership succession, secular republics have regressed by resorting to dynastic ploys. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has no obvious successor today, and is trying to maneuver so his son can take over from him. In Syria, Hafez Assad had no alternative when his eldest son, Basel, was killed except to pick son number two. The poverty of such choices will only discredit secular nationalist leaders more than they already are, making revolutions, especially Islamic ones, ever more likely.
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