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3 Oct 2021

Qatar; Citizens Cast Ballots in Election; 63.5% Voter Turnout

The Index Today

Qatar held its first legislative election for two-thirds of the advisory Shura Council on Saturday, making it the first legislative elections in the gulf region to take place.

The newly adapted process has not come without criticism and has stirred up a debate regarding inclusion and citizenship. The election saw a turnout of 63.5% for 30 members of the 45-body seat according to the internal ministry. It has been reported that the Emir of the nation will appoint 15 members from the remaining seats.

The Council will have main authority of state and policies but will not have any say in matters of defense, economic and investment policy-making. Preliminary results showed that none of the 26 women taking part in the election received any votes. The voting reflected the ruling al-Thani family and its sharing of power with other tribal groups.

The election was held just ahead of the upcoming world cup tournament. Deputy Prime Minister and foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrehman al-Thani has said the newly established vote was held as an experiment. Qatar has a large population of expats and foreign workers with nationals only accounting for 10%.

According to the Human Rights Watch, many Qatari’s have been excluded from the voting leading to protests. Around 15 demonstrators had been arrested for inciting violence and hate speech. Kristin Smith Diwan from Arab Gulf States Institutes in Washington said, “The Qatari leadership has proceeded cautiously, restricting participation in significant ways and maintaining important controls over the political debate and outcomes. But popular politics is unpredictable. Over time, Qatari’s may grow to see their role and rights differently as this public forum develops.”

©Photo: Reuters

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