Bahrain is located in the Middle East and gained independence from Britain in 1971. According to Bahrain’s 2002 Constitution, the country is a constitutional monarchy and the king is the head of state while the prime minister is the head of government. The king wields legislative, judicial and executive authority and is responsible for appointing of government officials.
The Constitution of Bahrain is the supreme law in the country. The kingdom has had two constitutions since independence from Britain. The first constitution in Bahrain was promulgated in 1973 following the independence in 1971 and provided for a unicameral parliament. The second and current constitution was adopted in 2002 and brought numerous reforms to the government including the change of the unicameral parliament to a bicameral parliament as well as the provision of voting rights for women.
The ruling family in Bahrain comes from the House of Khalifa which has held monarch authority in the kingdom since independence in 1971. The head of the royal family is the ruler and King of Bahrain. The Crown Prince is next-in-line in the succession of the king and also serves as the Commander of the Bahrain Defense Forces.
According to the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bahrain, the national assembly is defined as a bicameral parliament made up of two chambers; the Consultative Council as well as the Council of Representatives. The National Assembly is comprised of 80 members in total and 40 members seated in the Consultative Council and 40 members of the Council of Representatives. The Chair of the Consultative Council acts as the leader of the National Assembly, but the speaker of the Council of Representatives assumes leadership in the event of the absence of the Chair of the Consultative Council. The National Assembly is mandated to formulate laws except for royal decrees from the king.
The Consultative Council
The Consultative Council is a branch of the national assembly and is the Upper House of the Parliament of Bahrain. The Consultative Council is comprised of 40 members; all of whom are appointed by the King. Also known as the Shura Council, the Consultative Council is headed by the Chair who is also appointed by the king. Among the current members of the Consultative Council are a Christian woman and a Jewish man.
The Council of Representatives
The Council of Representatives is the Lower House of the Parliament of Bahrain. The Council of Representatives (also known as the Chamber of Deputies) is made up of 40 members who are all elected by universal suffrage. The speaker is the head of the Council of Representatives. The Council of Representatives has the power to vote against a royal decree.
The Judiciary of Bahrain is the branch of government engaged in the administration of justice in the kingdom and is headed by the Chief Justice. The Judiciary is divided into two court systems; the Sharia Law Courts and the Civil Law Courts. The Sharia Law Courts are mandated to preside over cases involving the personal status of Bahraini Muslims. The Civil Law Courts have jurisdiction to preside over disputes involving non-Muslim citizens. The Court of Cassation is the final appeal court in Bahrain and is headed by the Chief Justice.