Voter registration for Qatar’s first-ever legislative elections to close

Voter registration for Qatar’s first legislative Shura Council election in October will conclude today. The elections will signal the final

Ali Jadallah Anadolu Agency

Photo: Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency

Voter registration for Qatar’s first legislative Shura Council election in October will conclude today.

The elections will signal the final implementation of Qatar’s constitution, approved in a referendum in 2003. The Qatari constitution provides for a partly popularly elected legislature which ostensibly would hold legislative powers and limited authority over the executive. Elections were delayed several times until their approval by Emir Tanim bin Hamad Al Thani last November.

These elections likely represent an attempt by the country’s rulers to burnish its tarnished international reputation. Qatar is both alienated from its Gulf neighbors, who from 2017 to January imposed an embargo on the country due mostly to its ties to Iran, and alienated from the West due to a number of scandals.

With the list of candidates still undecided and political parties banned in Qatar, the ideological makeup of the resulting legislature is unknown. The likeliest option is a legislature dominated by tribal interests, which remain strong in rural areas.

Do not expect the limited powers of the Shura Council to serve as a check on the autocratic powers of the Emir. However, democratic elections could further alienate Qatar from its autocratic neighbors while endearing it in the West.

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