Freedom in the World
Six years after agreeing to hold legislative elections for the Consultative Council, Qatar again failed to do so in 2010. In March, Qatar swore in its first woman judge. Five women journalists resigned from the Doha-based satellite television station Al-Jazeera after they came under criticism from the station’s management for not dressing conservatively enough.
Qatar is not an electoral democracy. The head of state is the emir, whose family holds a monopoly on political power. The emir appoints a prime minister and cabinet. The constitution states that the emir appoints an heir after consulting with the ruling family and other notables. Voters elect local government representatives with limited powers over municipal services; these representatives report to the appointed minister of municipal affairs and agriculture. Under the constitution, which was ratified by public referendum in 2003 and promulgated by the emir in 2004, elections are to be held for 30 of the 45 seats in a new Consultative Council; the emir has the power to appoint the other 15 members. Although new elections were scheduled for 2010, Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani extended the Council’s current session until 2013, effectively postponing elections for three more years. The existing 35-member Consultative Council is entirely appointed.