Only one woman wins in Qatar’s municipal elections

May 11, 2011

Fatima Al Kuwari (right), who entered the CMC poll fray for the first time, congratulating victor Shaikha Al Jefairi who retained her Old Airport seat in the CMC for the third time.

Only one of the four women who ran in Qatar’s quadrennial municipal elections carried her constituency in a new confirmation of the formidable challenges faced by women’s political empowerment programmes.

Shaikha Al Jefairi retained her Old Airport seat in the nationwide election of a 29-member Central Municipal Council (CMC) in which 13,606 out of 32,662 registered voters turned out to cast their ballots.

According to the results, 12 new councilors were elected while 17 were re-elected in the country’s fourth municipal elections.

Low voter turnout

However, the low voter turnout, 43.3 per cent, seemed to have shocked poll officials who said that they would look into the reasons, Qatari daily The Peninsula reported on Wednesday.

Contestants out the blame for the poor voter turnout on the hot weather and the government, saying it should have declared a holiday.

“Not many voters turned out since they had to go to work,” a contestant said, quoted by the daily.

Lone female

Shaikha Al Jefairi will continue to be the lone female member of the male-dominated council for the third consecutive term after she kept her Old Airport seat with a thumping majority, polling the highest number of votes at 803.

Her debut was in 2003 when she won after running unopposed from the same constituency.

This time, however, she had a challenger, also a woman, Fatima Al Kuwari, who lost after bagging only 62 votes.

Poll officials said Shaikha retained her seat “thanks to the immense trust of voters in her capacity and aptitudes.”

Women voters outnumbered men

Announcing the results at the city police headquarters, poll officials said that in at least eight of the 29 constituencies, women voters outnumbered men.

In Maither, 68 per cent of the voters were women, but in Madinat Khalifa, women constituted only 16.3 per cent.

Brigadier-General Majid Ebrahim Al Khulaifi, head of the election supervising committee, told reporters on Tuesday evening that the announcement of the results was slightly delayed by the counting in Maither which took more time than expected due to relatively larger turnout.

There was no polling in two constituencies, Al Shahaniya and Messaieed, where candidates were unopposed.

Al Khulaifi told Qatar Radio that he was surprised by the low voter turnout and said its reasons would be looked into. Preparations for the poll began six months ago, he said.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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