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Order from Above: The Evolvement of Elections in Qatar

Ariel Admoni


Qatar slowly opened up to the democratic system. In 1963, the Qatari Sheikh made some concessions and allowed Municipal Council to be elected by all Qatari males. However, it appears to have faded from view without any noticeable impact. After the independence, Sheikh Khalifa believed that elections were neither necessary nor useful and his son, Sheikh Hamad, began to reform the country in this area. In April 2003, Qatari citizens voted on a constitution that included an election. Until 2021, Doha postponed plans for a partially elected Shura Council. Instead, members of the body, the top advisory body for the government, have been appointed by the Emir. On October 2, 2011, Qataris began voting in the Emirate’s first legislative election. The results were an example of the conservative view of the Qatari population. The conservative atmosphere also appeared in the sessions of another elected advisory council, the Central Municipal Council (CMC) and every reform or change can be initiated only by the leadership, specifically the Emir. The conservative atmosphere and the significant role of the Emir in the change appeared especially in the question of the women in the democratic process. However, during the years, the Al-Thani continued to closely monitor the implementation of the elections and make sure things would not go out of hand. Moreover, political participation limited different factions of the Al-Thani family and prominent families in the Emirate, sometimes connected through marriages to the ruling family.

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pp. 308–320