In a country ruled by a Sunni elite, Bahrain's predominantly Shia population has long complained about discrimination and oppression. But now they see a glimmer of hope.
Bahrain's main Shia opposition group al-Wefaq has won 18 out of 40 seats in the first round of parliamentary elections.
A run-off next Saturday could give the opposition a chance at winning control of parliament.
But the elections took place amid growing tensions between the government and the Shia majority - a number of Shia activists will stand trial this week.
The results follow accusations of fraud. Opposition groups claim the Shia-dominated areas were blocked from casting their ballot.
What is the significance of this victory, and how will it play out in this Gulf country?
Inside Story, with presenter Hoda Abdelhamid, discusses with Saeed al-Shehabi, the chairman of the Bahrain Freedom Movement, and Ibtissam al-Ketbi, a political science professor at the United Arab Emirates University.
This episode of Inside Story aired from Monday, October 25, 2010.