Out of a total of 1306 candidates who will be competing for the 84 seats of the seventh term of the Majlis Asshura, a record number of 82 women will participate.
Oman held open elections for the first time in 2003. In those elections 13 women competed for the 83 seats on the Shura, with only two of them succeeding. Since that time the process of electing the Shura council has changed, and today every citizen older than 21 has the right to vote.
The last elections were held in 2007, when the advisory Shura council increases its number of seats from 83 to 84. In that year 717 candidates vied for membership, 21 of them women. None of those women made it to the Shura that year.
This year’s election will incorporate changes which Sultan Qaboos Bin Saeed granted as part of reforms which came in the wake of the “Arab Spring” unrest which spread throughout many middle eastern countries, including Oman. The newly elected Shura will have, for the first time, legislative and regulatory powers as part of its membership in the greater body of the Council of Oman.
Last year candidates were, for the first time, allowed to hang campaign posters, banners and advertisements in newspapers and other local media outlets. This year there are even more reforms in the campaign methods, including the use of SMS messages, electronic media for advertising, use of the internet to get the word out about each candidate and more.
Elections will most likely be held in October, but a precise date has not yet been established.