Bahrain holds its first major election since Arab Spring-protests erupted here 4 years ago

Voting has begun in Bahrain's first full parliamentary election since Arab Spring-protests erupted here four years ago.

The country's Shiite opposition has called for voters to boycott the election Saturday.

State media in Bahrain reports that a total of 419 candidates are running for municipal and parliamentary seats. Any candidates that do not secure more than 50 percent of the vote will head to a runoff a week later.

The elections, however, are unlikely to diffuse tensions between Bahrain's Sunni monarchy and Shiite activists who continue to protest for greater rights and a greater say in government.

The elections are being watched closely by Bahrain's Gulf neighbors and Washington. Bahrain hosts the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet and is part of the U.S.-led coalition striking the Islamic State group.