Bahrain voted Saturday in a second round of polling for the lower house of parliament, with Sunni Islamists and liberal parties hoping to secure the remaining nine seats up for grabs, reported DPA.
"We continue to see strong-turn out of voters since the opening of the voting centres in the morning," Nawaf al-Maawadah, the head of the Elections Executive Committee, told the German Press Agency dpa.
Initial results are expected to be announced early Sunday and could see a woman elected from a hotly contested district. While there is one female member of parliament already, she ran unopposed.
The first round was held last weekend and saw the Islamic National Accord Association (INAA), a Shiite opposition group, win 18 seats in the 40-member lower house to become the largest party in parliament.
Sunni Islamists and businessmen, running as independents, netted collectively 10 seats. For the pro-government Sunni blocs the elections were disappointing, as they lost five seats compared to their result in the last election held 2006.
In the first round of voting, more than 318,000 people were eligible to vote for 127 candidates vying for 35 seats being contended.
Shiites are believed to make up the majority in Bahrain, but charge they suffer from discrimination from the dominant Sunni Muslim community.
And while the small Gulf country, largely dependent on its vast financial centre and petroleum exports for economic output, has liberalized over the last decade, the king still maintains a firm grip.
The island's upper house of parliament has 25 members, all appointed by the king, Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa. The monarch also appoints nearly all members of cabinet, which includes relatives in the extended royal family.
In 1981, an attempted coup by Shiite extremists was quashed, and relations between the two main religious groups have remained tense.