Qatar’s ruler said on Tuesday that a long delayed vote for the country’s policy reviewing chamber will be held in October 2021, marking the Gulf emirate’s first national election.
The currently un-elected Shura Council advises the absolute ruler, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, on draft laws but does not create its own legislation and can be overruled by a simple decree.
October’s vote would be Qatar’s first national election although Sheikh Tamim did not give details on who would be permitted to vote or who would be able to stand.
Qataris have previously been able to cast ballots on constitutional reforms and in elections to a nationwide municipal council.
“The Shura Council elections will be held in October of next year to strengthen the traditions of the Qatari shura, with wider participation by citizens,” the Emir said in a speech to open the 49th session of the council.
Elections to the council, required under the country’s 2004 Constitution, have been postponed repeatedly and the body’s members have instead been directly appointed by the emir.
Qatar has undergone cautious reform on issues including democracy, worker rights and representation of women since Sheikh Tamim came to power in 2013.
“We are taking an important step in strengthening the Qatari consultative traditions and developing the legislative process with the participation of a wider range of citizens,” Sheikh Tamim said. “We have our solid system rooted in the structure of our society and... it is not a multi-party system, but rather an emirate system based on established traditions of fair and rational governance.”