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At the end of the legislative ballot organized on Saturday and aimed at electing the majority of the members of the legislative body, no woman was elected. All of the 30 seats to be filled were won by male candidates, according to the Interior Ministry. An imbalance that can be further reduced by the Emir of Qatar, who is responsible for appointing the other 15 members of the Majlis al-Shoura.
The Qataris voted, Saturday, October 2, to elect the majority of the members of their legislative body, an unprecedented ballot in which no woman was elected, and which should not change the balance of power in this rich country of Gulf ruled by a reigning family and where political parties remain prohibited.
Voters were invited to choose 30 of the 45 members of the Majlis al-Shura, an advisory body with little power. Until then, all the members of this council were appointed by Emir Tamim ben Hamad Al-Thani.
All of the 30 seats to be filled were won by male candidates, according to the Interior Ministry. None of the 28 women allowed to run was elected.
The Emir of Qatar, who is responsible for appointing the 15 other members of the Majlis al-Shoura, can however reduce this imbalance by appointing women. However, it is not known when he will announce these appointments, and when the board will hold its inaugural meeting.
The turnout was 63.5%, according to official figures, much more than in the 2019 municipal elections where less than one in ten voters voted.
“At the start of the day, I heard a lot of people say that they would not vote, believing that it would not bring any change, but we saw a lot of voters,” said a member of the organizing committee of the elections in Doha, Sultane Abdallah al-Kouwari.
According to the government agency Qatar New Agency, a total of 233 candidates presented themselves. All of them had to receive authorization from the Ministry of the Interior.
But according to state television, 101 of those candidates threw in the towel on voting day to support other contenders for the post in their constituencies.
“When candidates realize that they have no chance of winning a seat, they decide to support other candidates,” notes Andreas Krieg, professor at King’s College London.
“Bringing positive attention” to the country
The holding of this first legislative ballot by direct universal suffrage, provided for by the 2004 Constitution but postponed several times, took place when the country is under scrutiny internationally.
One year before the FIFA World Cup in Qatar, the authorities believe that the organization of these elections “will attract positive attention” to the country, says Luciano Zaccara, Gulf specialist at the University of Qatar.
The Majlis al-Shura will be able to propose laws, approve the budget or even dismiss ministers, prerogatives that it did not have before. But the almighty emir will have a right of veto.
“When I folded my ballot to put it in the ballot box, I felt like I was taking part in something big,” Sheikha Atiq al-Khulaifi, 25, said in Doha.
While a few political rallies have taken place, during the campaign the candidates all avoided discussing their country’s foreign policy or the status of the monarchy, preferring to focus on societal issues such as health, education or human rights. citizens.
Lack of parties
The majority of the 2.5 million inhabitants of Qatar, the world’s largest producer and exporter of liquefied natural gas, are foreigners and therefore could not vote.
Among the 330,000 Qataris, only the descendants of inhabitants already citizens of the country in 1930 have the right to vote and to stand as candidates, automatically disqualifying families naturalized since.
Members of the important al-Mourra tribe were thus excluded from these elections, sparking heated debates on social networks.
Candidates run in constituencies based on where their family or tribe lived in the 1930s.
In Al-Khor, a city north of Doha, 13 candidates were vying in one of the most competitive constituencies.
“There are a lot of candidates, but for me the most important thing in the selection is competence,” said Rachid Abdullatif al-Mohannadi, 37 years old.
According to diplomatic sources, internal votes had already taken place to determine who to elect in the constituencies.
“When you don’t have political parties … people tend to vote for those they know, family or tribe,” says Courtney Freer, Gulf Specialist at Emory College ( United States).