The Dialogue: Parliament v1.1?

20 Jul, '11

Progress has been marked in last night’s Political Stream of the National Dialogue last night. According to this from the Dialogue’s official site:

Bahrain’s National Dialogue has reached ground breaking consensus to increase the powers of the Parliament. Assembled delegates including: MPs, opposition political societies; NGOs and public figures agreed to enhance the Parliament’s democratic scrutiny over the government. This decision gives the Parliament full authority to reject the entire government if they disapprove.

Commenting on the consensus, the spokesperson the National Dialogue, Isa Abdul Rahman said:

“This decision represents a radical shift in the balance of power – between our democratically elected parliament and our executive branch – further demonstrating Bahrain’s commitment to concrete reforms.”

“Under the new proposals the Prime Minister will now assume responsibility for selecting the members of his government.”

“The government will require the endorsement of our parliament before taking up office. If members of Parliament disapprove they can vote to reject the entire government.

“MPs will have the power to reject the government’s four year work plan.

“This decision guarantees that our government’s composition and work plan will reflect the will of the people.” [link]

No one can deny that this is germane progress. This has to be passed by his majesty of course and I am hopeful that he will with alacrity.

The other thing that I was happy to hear discussed is the contentious issue of separating religion from state, it wasn’t adopted unfortunately, but at least it was raised in such a forum. Is there hope then that after this taboo has been broken, that it will be raised again at a point in the not too distant future?


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Comments (8)

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  1. M.A, says:

    Forgive my cynicism, but this isn’t nearly good enough. Nay-saying is nice but it’s not empowerment, it’s what Wefaq have been doing for years with all their abstentions and pullouts and then everyone goes and accuses them of not trying hard enough and refusing to work towards a consensus!
    So now basically if parliament doesn’t like an incoming government or a four-year plan they can reject it wholesale — not a minister at a time, not a tenet at a time. How time-consuming and impractical! Who else sees a formula for endless fighting and stalemate brewing?

    • mahmood says:

      Yes there is that. And I agree that due to the ensuing complexity, I doubt very much that new tool will be oft put to use. However, it’s something new. Now they should pick it up and run with it to ensure that ultimately Parliament not only has oversight on the cabinet as a whole, but on individual ministers, ambassadors and appointees to the Constitutional Court all of which should be conducted in an open environment through parliamentary committees where the public can choose to attend.

  2. A says:

    Also note that with the currently gerrymandered districts, this may not necessarily be effective.

  3. Dan says:

    “This has to be passed by his majesty of course and I am hopeful that he will with alacrity.”


    “This has to be passed by the dictator (OR should it be the leader (Fuhrer)?), of course and I am hopeful that he will with alacrity.” Aren’t we all…

    Why does a country the size of Bahrain need a king anyway? A person can walk from one end of it to the other in less than a day and a half for crying out loud. It’s population is less than most small major cities around the world…and these are run by city counsels.

    I commend you on your efforts to preserve the right of free speech, even though no one has bothered to enter a definition of what a right is into the government record. However, I strongly disagree with you in your support of a monarchy or other autocracy.

  4. Dan says:


    In the above comment, I meant “plutocracy” and not “autocracy.” But what is the difference? A king has his advisers. So did Hitler.

  5. Dan says:

    “This has to be passed by his majesty of course and I am hopeful that he will with alacrity.”

    Now why would the king do THAT? And what ARE you going to do if he doesn’t, sing praises to “His Majesty?”

  6. Sky says:

    ok, being able to reject is a marginal improvement. It is cosmetic though.
    the King appoints the PM who then appoints his cabinet vs The King appoints his PM and the cabinet.
    To me it’s a consolidation of power for the hawkish arm over the moderate. Not good.

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