Qatar elections: absolute male domination of the first elected Shura Council

Qatar elections: absolute male domination of the first elected Shura Council
Qatar elections: absolute male domination of the first elected Shura Council
October 2, 2021

Renewed 3 October 2021

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The results of the first legislative elections in the history of the State of Qatar were announced, and none of the 28 women candidates won.

The committee supervising the elections announced the names of thirty winning candidates, on Saturday evening, when voters voted to choose 30 out of a total of 45 members of the Shura Council with limited powers in Qatar.

The date of the emir’s appointment of the 15 members, nor the date of the council’s meeting, has not yet been announced.

The results increase expectations that the Emir of Qatar will use his powers to appoint 15 members of this council to strike a balance. This is the first time that Qataris elect two-thirds of the members of the council, which was previously appointed by the Emir of the country.

It is unlikely that the Shura Council, after its election, will change the distribution of power in Qatar.

The Council will have legislative authority and the authority to approve the state’s general policies and the budget, but it will not have authority over the state’s defense, security, economic and investment policies.

The vote saw a turnout of 63.5 percent, according to officials. The participation rate was high compared to its counterpart in the municipal elections that were held in 2019, when the percentage did not exceed 10 percent of the voters.

Saturday’s elections saw a total of 234 candidates compete, according to the official Qatar News Agency. After the middle of the election day, about a third of the candidates withdrew from the race, according to data published by state television. It is not clear why these candidates withdrew, and whether this was in response to a call by their constituents to support other candidates.

The history of the establishment of the Shura Council in Qatar dates back to 1972. In April 2003, Qataris voted on the country’s first constitution.

Last year, the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, announced the first direct elections to select members of the Shura Council.

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No woman has succeeded in reaching the Shura Council

Observers believe that the decision to hold the elections, which has been repeatedly postponed, comes in light of pressures Qatar is witnessing due to the spotlight on it in light of its preparations to host the 2022 World Cup.

The former US ambassador to Qatar, Susan Ziada, said that the Gulf emirate wanted to strengthen its position on the international scene by organizing elections before 2022.

Candidates generally avoided talking about Qatar’s foreign policy or its monarchy, and instead focused their talks on social issues.

Obtaining candidacy for those elections required approval from the security authorities.

About 2.5 million people, most of whom are foreigners, reside in Qatar – they are not entitled to vote in such elections. Citizens eligible to vote make up only about 10 percent of Qatar’s total population.

These elections drew criticism from international human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, for excluding citizens from running and voting amid concerns about equality and citizenship.

The method of electing this council sparked great controversy with the exclusion of Al-Murra tribe citizens from participating in the elections, which led to internal protests.

Critics speak of what they describe as a restriction of allowing all citizens to vote and excluding some.

Opinion polls raised tribal sensitivities among the residents of Qatar, after the issuance of the election law that restricted voting to Qataris whose families were present in the country before 1930, which deprived some members of the country’s largest Al Marra tribe from voting.

Candidates also run in constituencies linked to their family or tribe’s place of residence in the 1930s, using data collected by British-influenced authorities at the time.

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Qataris will choose two-thirds of the council, while the emir will appoint the other third

Human Rights Watch said that thousands of Qataris were excluded from voting and choosing who would represent them in the Shura Council.

In a statement, Adam Coogle, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, emphasized that Qatar’s attempt to engage citizens in government “could have been a celebrated moment, but it has been marred by the denial of many Qataris’ full citizenship rights and the suppression of critics of arbitrary denial of the vote.” .

Qataris number around 333,000, but only the descendants of those who were citizens in 1930 are eligible to vote and run, which has excluded members of naturalized families ever since.

Kuwait is the only Gulf state that grants significant powers to an elected parliament, although final decision-making is the responsibility of the Emir of the country, as is the case in all neighboring Gulf states.

 
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