Article Qatar: Emir Approves First Elections Law for Legislative Elections

On July 29, 2021, the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, approved Law No. 6 of 2021 to regulate the country’s first legislative elections. The elections for the Shura Council (legislative branch) are slated to take place in October 2021. During the elections, out of the 45 seats of the Shura Council, 30 members will be elected. The Emir will appoint the 15 remaining seats. The prime minister and interior minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa Al Thani, has announced that the country has been divided into 30 electoral districts, each of which will have one candidate to be elected by Qatari citizens.

Law No. 6 of 2021 Promulgating the Law on the System for Electing the Shura Council identifies conditions under which individuals are eligible to vote and run as candidates in the Shura Council elections. It also regulates the electoral process.

Requirements for Voters

The new law provides that voters in Shura Council elections must be 18 years of age or older and citizens of Qatar. However, those who have been nationalized are eligible to vote only if their paternal grandfather was born in Qatar. (Law No. 6 of 2021, art. 2, para. 1.)

The law also grants members of the armed forces and civil servants the right to vote in the upcoming election. (Art. 2, para. 2.) Voters must be of sound mental capacity and not have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude or dishonesty. (Art. 3.)

Under the new law, voters are assigned to an electoral district on the basis of their address, and each electoral district is to have a list of the names and addresses of eligible voters. (Art. 5.) The Qatari Ministry of Interior is to establish an electoral commission to review and prepare the lists of individuals who are eligible to vote. (Art. 6.) Individuals who are not included in the voters’ lists have the right to submit a petition to the electoral commission. The petition must be submitted within five days from the day the electoral commission publishes the voters’ lists. (Art. 8.)

Requirements for Candidates

The law sets forth the requirements that a candidate must meet to be eligible to run for the Shura Council elections, which include being

  • a Qatari citizen,
  • 30 years of age or older,
  • fluent in reading and writing Arabic,
  • registered in the electoral district where he or she is going to run for elections, and
  • of good reputation and having a clean criminal record. (Art. 10.)

Furthermore, individuals holding ministerial and military positions, including positions with state and judicial bodies and the Central Municipal Council, are not eligible to run for the Shura Council. (Art. 11.)

The new law requires that the Ministry of Interior establish a second electoral commission to review and prepare a list of candidates. (Art. 12.) Individuals who are interested in running for election to the Shura Council must submit an application to this electoral commission within five days from the day that the commission begins accepting candidates’ applications. (Art. 14.) Individuals who are not included in the candidates’ list have the right to submit a petition to the candidates’ electoral commission within three days from the day the electoral commission publishes the candidates’ list. (Art. 15.)

The Election Campaign

Once the candidates’ electoral commission publishes the final list of candidates, the electoral campaign begins. The electoral campaign must end 24 hours before election day. (Art. 20.) The new law limits the amount that candidates can spend during the electoral campaign to a maximum of 2 million Qatari riyals (about US$548,445), though the minister of interior is authorized to adjust the spending limit. (Art. 21.) Municipalities decide the locations where campaign signs will be displayed and ensure that equal space is provided for each candidate. (Art. 22.) Candidates are prohibited from using any words, terms, and slogans in their electoral campaign that violate public order or social and religious values. (Art. 24(2).) Moreover, candidates must refrain from conducting negative campaigns against other candidates. (Art. 24(3).) Electoral meetings are also prohibited without providing prior notification to the security department of the location where the meeting will take place. Such meetings must not take place after 11 p.m. (Art. 24(1).)

Electoral campaign billboards and advertisements cannot be displayed in places of worship, religious centers, educational facilities, government buildings, and buildings of an archaeological or historical nature. (Art. 25.) Candidates are prohibited from using megaphones in their electoral campaigns without permission from the municipalities. (Art. 26.) Candidates must also remove all campaign posters and advertisements within three days following the end of the elections. (Art. 28.)

The Voting Process

The new law requires each electoral district to have an electoral committee. The committee is to be chaired by a judge and include two other members, one from the Ministry of Interior and one from the Ministry of Justice. Each committee is responsible for counting votes and announcing the results of the elections. (Art. 30.)

The voting process is to be conducted through direct secret ballot. (Art. 32.) On election day the voting begins at 8 a.m. and ends at 6 p.m. (Art. 35.) Voters are prohibited from taking pictures of ballots or taking ballots outside the polling center. (Art. 36.) Only the candidates or their agents are permitted to enter the polling centers without the permission of the chair of the committee to monitor the progress of the elections. (Art. 38.)

Once the voting process is completed, each election committee will count the votes and issue a report detailing the results, signed by the committee’s chair and members. The chair of the committee is to announce the election results. Candidates or their agents have the right to be present during the counting process and announcement of the results. (Art. 39.)

Finally, Law No. 6 of 2021 imposes sanctions on any candidates who receive foreign funds to finance their campaigns. The law stipulates that any candidate who requests, accepts, or receives any forms of funding from any foreign entity or person to support their electoral campaign is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to 10 million Qatari riyals (about US$2,742,220). (Art. 48.)

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Qatar: Emir Approves First Elections Law for Legislative Elections
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Chicago citation style:

Qatar: Emir Approves First Elections Law for Legislative Elections. 2021. Web Page. https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2021-09-01/qatar-emir-approves-first-elections-law-for-legislative-elections/.

APA citation style:

(2021) Qatar: Emir Approves First Elections Law for Legislative Elections. [Web Page] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2021-09-01/qatar-emir-approves-first-elections-law-for-legislative-elections/.

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Qatar: Emir Approves First Elections Law for Legislative Elections. 2021. Web Page. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/global-legal-monitor/2021-09-01/qatar-emir-approves-first-elections-law-for-legislative-elections/>.

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