Qataris voted for a two-thirds advisory Shura Council in the Gulf Arab state’s first legislative elections on Saturday, a process that has sparked domestic debates about electoral inclusion and citizenship.
In a statement early Sunday, the interior ministry said 63.5% voter turnout took place in the election of 30 members of the 45-member body. The ruling Emir will continue to appoint the remaining 15 council members.
The council will have legislative powers and approve general state policies and budgets, but has no say in establishing a defence, security, economic and investment policy for the small but wealthy gas producer, which prohibits political parties.
Munira, who writes children’s books and asked to be identified by only one name, told Reuters: “With the opportunity to vote, I think it’s a new chapter.” “I’m really happy with the number of women standing as candidates.”
Preliminary results show that voters chose none of the 26 women out of 233 candidates in 30 districts in the country where municipal elections have been held for several years.
Men and women voted in separate categories. Before the finale, a large crowd cast their vote on the outskirts of the capital Doha, including members of a core tribe, some of whom protested over narrow voting eligibility.
“At the end of this day, the people of Qatar, they are going to be part of the decision-making,” said Saban Al Jassim, 65, a candidate from Markhia district.
Alan Froherz, director of Georgia State University’s Middle East Studies Center, said the vote indicates that the ruling al-Thani family is “taking seriously the idea of sharing power symbolically, but institutionally with other Qatari tribal groups.” Sharing power with.”
The election, approved in the 2003 constitutional referendum, comes ahead of Doha hosting the next year’s World Cup football tournament.
Qatar’s deputy prime minister and foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, described the vote last month as a new “experiment” and said the council could not be expected to play “the full role of any parliament” from the first year. .
Kuwait has been the only Gulf monarchy to give substantial powers to an elected parliament, although the final decision rests with its ruler, as in neighboring states.
Not all Qataris are eligible to vote.
The elections have stirred up tribal sensibility after some members of a core tribe were ineligible to vote under a law prohibiting Qataris, whose family existed in the country before 1930.
Human Rights Watch has said thousands of Qataris have been excluded from voting. The organization said Qatar arrested about 15 protesters and critics of the electoral law during the protests. A Qatari source with knowledge of the matter said the two men were still being held “for inciting violence and hate speech”.