THE day that we only experience once every four years in Bahrain. A day in which the loyal people of Bahrain reaffirm their commitment to the process of development and reform launched by His Majesty King Hamad nearly 20 years ago.
On Saturday, I headed, for the second time, with my son to the polls after we voted for the first time the previous Saturday, as our constituency, Capital Eighth (Sitra), was not decided from the first round. I had voted for a candidate based on my conviction in his electoral platform, while my son voted for another candidate, but both were not lucky. This time we opted for another candidate, putting the interest of Bahrain and Bahrainis ahead of our priorities.
There are indications that the next council will be strong enough to meet the aspirations of citizens. In addition, it will be an arena for intellectual discussion, putting forward views and proposals, developing legislation, and monitoring government performance.
We have a democracy within a constitutional monarchy that we are proud of, and we must preserve it. Especially as we see in countries such as Iraq and Lebanon, where elected legislatures have become a scourge for the people, and a path for personal interests to come to power.
Former British prime minister Winston Churchill stated: “If you want to learn about a people, look at their Parliament and who represents them in it. Then you’ll know who deserves to be given flowers or beaten with shoes.”
However, the Arab peoples of Iraq and Lebanon are poor, powerless, and sometimes intellectually and culturally estranged, pushed by sectarian clergy to make decisions that are not in their or their children’s best interests.
As we celebrate our own success story, I will not focus on failed democracies. We must applaud the King’s accurate and proactive perspective, as well as his clear understanding of the democratic approach that matches Bahrain’s culture, history, and nature, as well as the Bahraini people.
The introduction of the National Action Charter, which was accepted by an overwhelming majority of Bahrainis, followed by the 2002 Constitution safeguarded citizens’ basic rights and allowed them to engage in national development in its broadest sense.
The candidates understand that the Bahraini voter is intelligent and will not vote for demagogues with empty promises, such as prioritising giving additional job opportunities, housing services, and safeguarding citizens’ gains in general.
Some wise candidates are aware that voters are watching them and that their memories are sharp, so they do not make rash election pledges.
It is very important that our Parliament has technocratic candidates with qualifications and experience. But, more importantly, what we wanted more and achieved is the wide popular participation in the elections, which reached 73 per cent – the highest rate since the 2002 elections. We have thus surpassed the participation rate in the legislative elections in countries where democracies are very old and well-established, such as the US, Britain, and France.
I do not fear for Bahrain, for its body, thank God, is healthy and strong, and is capable of expelling viruses and microbes and recovering from diseases. We have previously gone through difficulties and challenges, but we have overcome them and emerged stronger, thanks to God, the wisdom of the King, and the support of His Royal Highness Peince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince and Prime Minister.
Today, we are once again demonstrating the health and strength of the Bahraini body. Congratulations to Bahrain. Congratulations to all of us.