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In Qatar, no woman elected in unprecedented legislative elections

Qatar experienced unprecedented elections on Saturday. For the first time, the Qataris have indeed voted to elect the majority of the members of their legislative body. However, no woman was elected in this election which should not change the balance of power in this rich Gulf country ruled by a reigning family and where political parties remain banned.

Voters were asked to choose 30 out of 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 other 15 members of the Majlis al-Shura, can further 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.

Increased participation

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 had to receive permission from the Ministry of the Interior for this. But according to state television, 101 of these candidates threw in the towel on voting day to support other contenders for the post in their constituencies.

An almighty emir

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 great,” Cheikha Atiq al-Khulaifi, 25, told Doha. While a few political rallies took 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.

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 was under international scrutiny one year before the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. .

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