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Bahrain: Government and Politics
Country Study > Chapter 5 > Government and Politics


In 1993 Bahrain was a constitutional monarchy in the form of an emirate with an executive-cabinet form of government and a separate judiciary; he exercises ultimate authority in all matters pertaining to the government. In addition to the amir, Shaykh Isa ibn Salman, principal government officials include his eldest son and heir apparent, Hamad ibn Isa, who is commander in chief of the BDF and deputy prime minister, and several other members of the ruling Al Khalifa. In accordance with the constitution adopted in 1973, the office of amir passes from father to eldest son unless the amir designates another male relative to succeed him. This clause of the constitution is not subject to amendment.

Although the amir has substantial executive powers, in practice he has delegated decision-making authority to a cabinet since 1956, when an amiri decree created the Administrative Council, an eleven-member body that advised the ruler on policy and supervised the growing bureaucracy. In 1970 Shaykh Isa ibn Salman issued a decree that transformed the Administrative Council into a twelve-member Council of Ministers. The president of the Council of Ministers, the prime minister, serves as the head of government. The amir appoints the prime minister, who then forms a government by selecting members of the Council of Ministers, albeit in consultation with the amir. The ministers are directly responsible to the prime minister, who, like the amir, has authority to veto a decision by any member of the council.

The Council of Ministers gradually expanded to include eighteen members, including the prime minister and the deputy prime minister. In late 1992, the prime minister, deputy prime minister, and seven of the sixteen ministers were members of the ruling Al Khalifa. The prime minister, Khalifa ibn Salman, is the brother of the amir. The amir's son holds the cabinet rank of deputy prime minister. The amir's uncle, Major General Khalifa ibn Ahmad, is minister of defense; and the amir's two first cousins, Muhammad ibn Khalifa and Muhammad ibn Mubarak, are minister of interior and minister of foreign affairs, respectively. Khalifa ibn Salman, the son of the amir's second cousin, is minister of labor and social affairs. A more distantly related cousin, Abd Allah ibn Khalid, a first cousin of the amir's grandfather, is minister of justice and Islamic affairs.

Data as of January 1993

Last Updated: January 1993

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Bahrain was first published in 1993. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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