Four years after the revolutions swept the Middle East and North Africa, Alhurra Television and Radio Sawa were there as Bahrain held its first full Parliamentary elections and Tunisia held its first Presidential election since the Arab Spring.
Alhurra’s coverage of the Bahraini election started well before the Nov. 22 Parliamentary election. The network reported on the reason why the Bahraini Shiite’s calling for a boycott of the election. The day before the Parliamentary election, Alhurra’s Eye on Democracy hosted a former Member of Parliament (from the Alwefaq Party), a Bahraini human rights lawyer, a member of the Shura Council and female candidate running for office. The guests debated the merits of participating vs. boycotting the elections, as well as the political crisis in Bahrain. During the discussion, human rights lawyer Mohamed Altajir charged that the Bahraini Parliament became a sectarian instrument and is powerless to make any changes because of its limited authority.
On Election Day, the Alhurra program Thirty Minutes hosted the head of the Bahraini Transparency Association and a Member of the Parliament. The discussion focused on the impact the boycott had on the outcome of the elections.
Leading up to the elections, MBN’s digital coverage included extensive analysis of the elections and the impact they would have on the Gulf country. Alhurra.com used citizen journalists on social media platforms to offer in-depth analysis of the political context of the controversial election, including its chances in bridging the gaps between Sunnis and Shiites of the Kingdom.
Radio Sawa’s coverage included interviews with the Bahraini Minister of Information, editor of El Wasat newspaper in Bahrain, members of the Alwafaq opposition party, Bahraini Parliament second vice president and Bahraini political analysts.
Alhurra also had extensive coverage of the Tunisian Presidential election held on Nov. 23, including an extended two-hour episode of Alhurra’s flagship talk show Free Hour. During the discussion Tunisian politicians and analysts joined American experts on the Middle East to look at how the election will impact the country.
The television network covered the announcements of the election results live, which saw Tunisian secularist leader Beji Caid Essebsi narrowly beating incumbent President Moncef Marzouki. However, the two frontrunners must meet again in a December run-off. Following the announcement, Alhurra’s Free Hour hosted an in-depth discussion with Tunisian politicians and researchers to address the political polarization that is likely to occur leading up to the run-off election.
Radio Sawa interviewed leaders in the Nida Tunisia Party, the Parti Liberal and the Al Nahda Party; as well as Tunisian political activists, Members of Parliament, American experts on the Middle East and a former member of the Tunisian High Commission on Elections.
Sawa Magazine took an in-depth look at how the Tunisian president will deal with the security challenges and foreign affairs for his country. In another episode, Sawa Magazine examined how the newly elected president will need to work with the different political parties to move Tunisia forward. The daily magazine program also looked at the influence the wealthy have on the election.
MBN Digital coverage followed major campaign events that led up to the election, including poll results, two candidates withdrawing from the race, as well as early voting, and an official statement by Secretary Kerry on the election. Coverage of voting and announcement of results was extensive and incorporated Alhurra’s video reports, Radio Sawa’s audio reports and reports by wires and local media.