Browse the listing below to find government information for Bahrain, including flags, leaders,
and constitution information. Factrover also has complete information on Bahrain at its
Bahrain Country Page.
Type: Constitutional Monarchy.
Independence: August 15, 1971 (from the UK).
Constitution: Approved and promulgated May 26, 1973; suspended on August 26, 1975; amended and approved by a national popular referendum again on February 14-15, 2001.
Branches: Executive--King (chief of state); Prime Minister (head of government); Council of Ministers (cabinet) is appointed by the King and headed by the Prime Minister.
Legislative--The bicameral parliament (al-Majlis al-Watani) consists of a 40-member elected House of Deputies and a 40-member Shura Council appointed by the King. Members of both chambers serve four-year terms. Judicial--High Civil Appeals Court. The judiciary is independent with right of judicial review.
Administrative subdivisions: 12 municipalities (manatiq): Al Hidd, Al Manamah, Al Mintaqah al Gharbiyah, Al Mintaqah al Wusta, Al Mintaqah ash Shamaliyah, Al Muharraq, Ar Rifa' wa al Mintaqah al Janubiyah, Jidd Hafs, Madinat Hamad, Madinat 'Isa, Juzur Hawar, Sitrah.
Political parties: None. Formal parties are banned but political societies have been formally sanctioned since 2001.
Suffrage: Universal at age 18.
Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa succeeded the throne in March 1999, after the death of his father Shaikh Isa bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s ruler since 1961. He championed a program of democratic reform shortly after his succession. . In November 2000, Shaikh Hamad established a committee to create a blueprint transform Bahrain from a hereditary emirate to a constitutional monarchy within 2 years. The resulting “National Action Charter” was presented to the Bahraini public in a referendum in February 2001. The first public vote in Bahrain since the 1970s, held by universal suffrage, the charter was overwhelmingly endorsed by 94.8% of voters. That same month, Shaikh Hamad pardoned all political prisoners and detainees, including those who had been imprisoned, exiled or detained on security charges. He also abolished the State Security Law and the State Security Court, which had permitted the government to detain individuals without trial for up to 3 years.
On February 14, 2002, one year after the referendum endorsing his National Action Charter, Shaikh Hamad pronounced Bahrain a monarchy and changed his constitutional status from Amir to King. He simultaneously announced that the first municipal elections since 1957 would be held in May 2002, and that a bicameral parliament, with a representative lower house, would be reconstituted with parliamentary elections in October 2002. As part of these constitutional reforms, the government also created an independent financial watchdog empowered to investigate cases of embezzlement and violations of state expenditure in July 2002.
Turnout for the May 2002 municipal elections was 51%, with female voters making up 52 % percent of voters. Turnout for the 2002 parliamentary elections--the first in almost three decades--was 53% in the first round and 43% in the second round, despite the fact that the four-largest Shi’a political societies organized a boycott to protest constitutional amendments enacted by the King that gave the appointed upper chamber of parliament voting rights equal to the elected lower chamber. Sunni Islamists won 19 of the 40 seats. Despite strong participation by female voters, none of the female candidates standing in these elections were returned. The new parliament held its first joint sitting in December 2002.
Bahrain has a complex system of courts, based on diverse legal sources, including Sunni and Shi'a Sharia (religious law), tribal law, and other civil codes and regulation created with the help of British advisers in the early 20th century. In 2001, Shaikh Hamad created the Supreme Judicial Council to regulate these courts and separate the administrative and judicial branches of government.