Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported that Qatar’s cabinet approved a draft law regarding the upcoming Shura Council elections. Elections for the 45-member top advisory council are scheduled to be held in October 2021. Yet, the exact date has not been determined so far.
According to the regulation, 30 members of the Shura Council will be elected by Qatari voters, while the Emir will pick the remaining 15. The draft law also allows government employees to be candidates for Council membership and hold their posts in case they are elected.
The process of voter registration, including electronic registration and spending limit on electoral campaigning, are other issues that the draft law regulates. In this context, each candidate will be allowed to spend at most 2 million QAR for their election campaign. The source of funds that candidates raised will be examined within the framework of the draft law.
The draft law also prohibits candidates from using tribal or sectarian rhetoric and stipulates respect to public morals, traditions, and religious and social values of society. Candidates are also banned from offending each other and fermenting trouble among them within the context of the draft law. According to the draft law, public and private media should be fair and treat all candidates equally in their coverages.
The regulation prohibits ministers, members of the judiciary, members of all military agencies, and the Central Municipal Council members from participating in the elections. Also, there will be a committee that would be headed by a judge chosen by the Supreme Judicial Council to supervise the voting and counting process. The draft law includes harsh punishments for offenses, such as foreign meddling, vote-buying, or other violations, as well.
Following the elections, it is expected that the Shura Council’s authorities would be expanded to dismiss ministers, approve the national budget, and propose legislation.
Such a move is rare in the Gulf region. While the voters are determined by the rulers in the United Arab Emirates, there are elected parliaments with no governance mandate in Kuwait and Bahrain. In these two countries, government members are selected by the rulers.