The kingdom has the only elected parliament in the region beside Kuwait.
Bahrain will hold a parliamentary election on October 23, its third since the Gulf Arab country's king launched a political reform process a decade ago to help quell Shi'ite street protests, Bahrain's state news agency said.
Bahrain, home to the US Fifth Fleet and a close ally of Saudi Arabia, is ruled by the Sunni al-Khalifa dynasty and its majority Shi'ite population complains of discrimination in jobs and services, an accusation the government denies.
The country has the only elected parliament in the region besides Kuwait, but its powers are limited as its bills need to be approved by an upper house whose members are appointed by the king.
Observers forecast few changes, as diplomats say voting districts are expected to be carved out in such a way as to ensure Shi'ites do not get a majority.
The biggest Shi'ite bloc, Al-Wefaq, said it would field candidates for up to 24 of 40 seats but does not expect a significant change in its numbers. Al-Wefaq won 18 seats in 2006 in its first foray into national electoral politics after boycotting a 2002 parliamentary poll.
The state news agency, BNA, said municipal elections would be held the same day. (Reuters)