Doha: Qatar is gearing up for the first legislative polls in its history on October 2 to choose members of its top advisory panel, known as the Shura Council. This will be the first time then that the Gulf nation will be taking steps towards electoral democracy.
Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa Bin Abdulaziz Al Thani called on citizens to participate “positively” in the first elections to be held in the state of Qatar to form the elected Shura Council. The election is for 30 members of the 45-seat Shura Council, a body which was previously appointed entirely by Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar.
The Emir will now only appoint the remaining 15 members. The final list of 284 candidates was released on September 15, including 28 women, from a total of 30 electoral districts. Abdelrahman Al Malki, a member of the supervisory committee, reviewed regulations that should be followed on polling day, like wearing a mask and adhering to social distancing norms.
Qatari citizens can cast their vote on Saturday from 8:00 a.m. till 6:00 p.m. And the names of elected members of the Shura Council will be announced in the evening, said various news reports.
What is Qatar’s Shura Council?
The cabinet passed a draft law on elections to the Shura Council on May 20, where it will take on the powers of a legislative body following the elections, reported The National News. The Shura Council will now have the power to dismiss ministers, propose laws, and approve or reject the country’s national budget. But ultimately Emir has the power of veto.
In accordance with the Emiri order, the country was divided into 30 electoral districts, each will elect one representative. While Qatar’s Shura Council was established in 1972, plans to hold the elections were ratified more than 15 years ago.
The country’s leadership had previously pledged to hold elections in 2007 and 2010 and repeated its pledge for 2013. None of the elections took place for various reasons. The Council typically runs for four years commencing from the date of the first meeting.
A Shura Council membership can end in the event of death, total disability, expiration of membership term, resignation, termination of membership, or dissolution of the Shura Council.
Who can run for elections?
Candidates must be originally Qatari and aged 30 and above by the closing date of the nomination. They must also be fluent in reading and writing in Arabic. If the first requirements are met, nominees then register in their electoral district and must then continue to maintain a good reputation and conduct while keeping their criminal record clean.
Candidates working at ministries or other government bodies, whose names are included in the final lists of candidates, are given unpaid leave throughout the elections. The maximum expenditure of each candidate during their electoral campaign must not exceed two million Qatari riyals.
Candidates have the freedom to withdraw their nomination seven days ahead of the election day by submitting a form to the committee.