Citizens in Qatar are gearing up for elections to the fifth term of the Central Municipal Council (CMC) which will be held on 13 May 2015.
The council, which comprises 29 elected members representing constituencies from more than 230 regions in the State of Qatar, is an independent entity that carries out its responsibilities without interference.
Members determine their work programme and budget, and make recommendations to the Ministry. Regular council meetings are held in public in Doha every two weeks with a quorum of two thirds of members.
The CMC’s powers and responsibilities include:
– Monitoring the implementation of laws, decrees and regulations related to urban and industrial planning, infrastructure and other public systems.
– Overseeing the economic, financial and administrative management of municipal affairs and agriculture.
All Qatari males and females that fulfil the following conditions have the right to cast their votes:
– They must be of Qatari origin, or have been naturalised citizens for a period of at least 15 years.
– They must be 18 years of age.
– They must not be indicted on a criminal charge of breach of trust or honesty, unless they have been rehabilitated.
– The constituency must be the real place of residence for respective voters.
– They must not be members of the armed forces or the police.
The 29 constituencies of the CMC were originally demarcated in 1998. The state has seen massive urban development in some areas, and large-scale demolitions in others, particularly in the city and its suburbs, prompting many Qatari families to shift to the outskirts. New urban areas have sprung up and they needed to be brought within the purview of the CMC constituencies. The lopsidedness was such that some constituencies had 3,000 to 4,000 voters while others had about 200 to 800 voters.
The Committee sought help from the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning, as well as the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics, for the demarcation of the CMC wards. The task in hand was quite complicated due to some areas being renamed or having names replaced with numbers, as well as the inclusion of a single constituency for more than one area.
Based on these findings, nine new constituencies will be included in the upcoming elections. Out of this collaboration are many changes: Al Jasra, Bin Omran, Madina Khalifa, Muaither and Rayyan constituencies have been merged due to the depopulation of some areas. The committee found some villages had been merged with nearby larger towns despite the differences in needs and lack of representation. The constituencies now include the villages Al Kaaban, Al Ghariya, Fuwairit, Rawdat Rashed, Umm Zubarah West, Umm Zubarah East, Rawdat Shamim, Al Sahla, Wadi Al Jamal, Umm Weshah, Karaana, Umm Houta, Amiriyya, Jaryan and Al Batna.
Citizens who had registered in the previous elections were required to reregister due to the restructuring of the constituencies. Registration of voters took place 11 to 22 January, and for the first time, was made available through Metrash2, the smartphone app from the Ministry of Interior. Voters had to go to the registration booths to collect their IDs after issuance of the final voters’ list. Some 1,000 people including volunteers were on hand, working hard to complete the necessary preparations.
Candidates and campaigns
In the CMC elections, 131 candidates will be competing for 27 electoral constituencies, with the participation of 21,736 registered voters a little less than the previous 21,995 voters who registered for the first poll in 1999.
Meanwhile you may have started seeing a few posters and banners appearing around town. Strict campaign rules have been put into place and there will be limited campaigning efforts seen. A candidate has to firstly receive permission from the Ministry of Interior to begin his or her campaign. Once given, candidates cannot launch personal attacks against rivals, and no posters or speeches are allowed in religious places, government offices and schools.
History of the CMC
The first municipal council in Qatar was formed in the early 1950s and was subsequently reorganised in 1956. Doha municipality came into being in May 1963. The Ministry of Municipal Affairs was established in 1972 as a government body responsible for supervising the functions of municipalities.
The election and appointment of the members of the municipal council were overseen for the first time due to the enactment of Decree No 4 of 1963. This was followed by Law No 11 of 1963, which stipulated that the municipal council can only be formed by a decree and that the appointment of the members is based on the nomination of the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Agriculture.
The first joint meeting of municipal councils in the country was held in 1983. From this meeting a central municipal council was formed to replace the numerous municipal councils, consisting of a 29‑member civic body serving a four‑year term.
The idea to form the municipal council by direct elections was revived when The Father Emir, HH Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani issued Law No 12 of 1998 organising the election law of the Central Municipal Council. Emiri Decree No 17 of 1998 specified the regulations governing the elections of the members of the Central Municipal Council.
Previous election results
1st Municipal Council elections – 1999
A total of 248 candidates including six women contested the 29 seats. Polling date was 8 March 1999, and 21,995 eligible males and females registered to cast their votes in their respective constituencies.
2nd Municipal Council elections – 2003
The final results of the election on 7 April 2003 saw 25 members out of 88 candidates winning; four members were elected unopposed. Out of a total of 21,024 registered voters, nearly 40% exercised their right to vote. Sheikha Yousuf Hasan Al Jufairi was the first woman to win a seat to the council (pictured right).
3rd Municipal Council elections – 2007
The elections on 1 April 2007 had a participation of 51.1% of the electorate, with 13,656 out of 28,153 eligible voters casting their ballots in 27 constituencies from 116 candidates. Three women were elected: One was reelected to her Old Airport constituency with the highest amount of votes of all candidates, and two won unchallenged.
4th Municipal Council elections – 2011
There were 32,662 registered voters, with a 43.3% turnout. There were 101 candidates including four women. From the total 29 constituencies, voting was conducted in 27 while the candidates of other two constituencies (Mesaieed and Al Shaihaniya) were elected unopposed.
Author: Sarah Palmer
This article has been extracted from the ‘Special Features’ section from Marhaba Information Guide’s Spring/Summer 2015 issue – Issue 62 – which is now available at the nearest bookstore and hypermarket next to you for only QR20.
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