#Trending: Elections - To vote or not to vote?

#Trending: Elections - To vote or not to vote?
This is a regular series on what Arabs are debating or sharing on social media. Tweet us your reactions @alaraby_en or share your comments on Facebook, www.facebook.com/AlAraby.en
4 min read
25 Nov, 2014
(Getty Images)

With two elections this past week in the region, the twittersphere has been predictably busy.

Oddly, perhaps, the more controversial election, in Bahrain, saw less twitter activity, though arguably, in a country where protests against the ruling royal family were crushed almost from the outset, people were understandably wary.

Bahrainis, Saturday, voted for 40 parliamentary seats and 30 municipal posts in their first parliamentary elections since that uprising in 2011. The opposition called a boycott and labelled the vote a farce.

Sunday's presidential election in Tunisia was largely covered in glowing terms. The Arab Spring started in the North African country and armed with a new constitution and fresh from successful parliamentary elections, the mood there was generally upbeat.

But we start in Bahrain. The opposition boycott had been accompanied by government threats of repercussions against those not casting their vote. In the absence of serious opposition representation, then, turn-out has proven arguably the most important factor in determining the legitimacy that will attach to these elections.

And predictably, both the government and the opposition have accused each other of lying about the numbers. The government claims more than 70 percent of those eligible turned out to vote. The opposition says not more than 30.

However, despite a relative paucity of Bahraini interactions on Twitter during the elections, we managed to track a number of tweets on the event.

Notable among them was Bahraini opposition leader, Nabeel Rajab, actively tweeting in favour of the opposition and the boycott. Others tweeted in favour of the elections, referring to the opposition as a minority of no more than 16 percent of Bahrainis, and, taking the government's turn-out figures as true, suggesting the opposition boycott had failed.

Translation: Who are you? You merely represent 16% or much less of the Bahraini population, and we are the hand that beat you for the second time. #البحرين
Translation: quoting Salman Al-dossari "  From now on Al-Wefaq has no more right to speak about the rights and demands of the Bahrani people"
Caption: Counting votes in area 23 in Al Sahla Al Shamaliya


In Tunisia, millions cast their vote in the country's first free presidential election in history. Tunisians were active on Twitter, posting information about the elections in English, French and Arabic.

Tweets were generally positive and hopeful for the future of the country. However, a considerable number of tweets showed concern about the the lack of participation of young voters participation in the elections. Official figures put the turn-out at over 64 percent.

Below is a sample of tweets highlighting the optimists and the sceptics.

They may not have voted en masse, but Tunisian youth seem to have chosen a candidate of a different genre: music.
Do you think public opinion on these elections is freely represented on Social Media? Have your say – tweet us @alaraby_en and we'll keep you up-to-date with all the latest trends on the region's social media.