On Saturday, Qataris voted for two-thirds of the advisory Shura Council in the Gulf Arab state’s first legislative elections, a process that has sparked local discussion about electoral inclusiveness and citizenship.
The election of 30 members of the 45-seat council resulted in a 44 percent turnout, according to the elections supervisory committee. The remaining 15 council members will be appointed by the Emir.
The Council will have legislative authority and will be able to adopt broad state policies and the budget, but it will have no influence in the defense, security, economic, or investment policies for the small but wealthy gas producer. The council is expected to concentrate its efforts on social problems like healthcare, education, and citizenship rights.
Qataris number around 333,000, or 10 percent of the country’s 2.8 million people, but an election legislation passed in July declared that only descendants of citizens in 1930 are entitled to vote and run for office, disqualifying members of families who have naturalized since then.
The 284 hopefuls running for the 30 available council seats were largely men, with 29 women among those running.
A large crowd cast ballots in a marquee on the outskirts of Doha, just before the polls closed, including members of a major tribe, some of whose members had protested about restrictive voting eligibility.
The election, which was approved in a 2003 constitutional vote, comes ahead of Doha’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup next year.