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Abstract Details

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Comparing legislative electoral processes in the Gulf Cooperation Council states (2014-2015)
Paper Proposal Text :
This paper analyzes the three electoral processes that took place in Bahrain in November 2014, and United Arab Emirates and Oman in 2015. These three elections were the first ones in the legislative powers after the ones held during the Arab Spring revolts. The objective of this paper is to compare both this three elections in terms of their implications for their systems, and using the criterion of participation, competition and transparency. The three of them will also be compared with the previous elections conducted in 2010 (Bahrain) and 2011 (UAE, Oman) to explore for participation trends.

The three cases were selected on the base of similar type of elections (legislative ones), and because they were the first ones on their type after the Arab Spring revolts. The findings are based on the official information provided by the ministries of Interior of the three states, and on personal fieldwork conducted by the researcher during the electoral periods.

The main findings of this are that low turnout is still a very problematic issue, as well as low female empowerment as candidates. Moreover, the still limited participation in the UAE hinders the so called “gradual democratic training” portrayed by the authorities.

The lack of political parties and associations in Oman and UAE, and the restrictions against the opposition and their boycott in Bahrain, reduced almost to none the competition in these elections.
While the publication of the results and the measures taken by the governments increased the reliability of the whole processes, the vote buying, the pre-electoral alliances and the minimal monitoring mechanism still affect the transparency of the elections.

This paper concludes that since no relevant change in the composition of the elected bodies, neither in their attributions happened since the protests, and no changes in policies resulted from the performance of the elected chambers, these elections cannot be considered as internal drivers of change in any of the three states.