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Landmark lower house elections
THIS year also saw landmark elections for the eighth term of Oman's Majlis Al Shura or lower house of Oman's ruling council.
Recent amendments to the Basic Law made some two years ago meant that the eighth Shura election marked a turning point in the history of the legislative body. The Shura Council gained more legislative powers that enabled it to participate in the study of state public budgets, government projects as well as query ministers of service ministries.
There were 611,906 registered voters and estimates showed a good voter turnout with 64 per cent of voters under the age of 45. There were 590 candidates vying for 85 seats in the elections, which featured electronic voting for the first time.
There were 107 voting centres distributed among the 61 provinces and the election process reportedly went very smoothly although the turnout among women voters was less than hoped for.
The Shura Council comprises a large number of young men, some of whom are holders of PhD and Master's degrees. The council works with the State Council, whose members are appointed by Sultan Qaboos from among the best Omani expertise, and constitute a bicameral assembly known as Oman Council (or Majlis Oman), and this body works in cooperation with the Council of Ministers and other state institutions.
The Council was established in 1991 to replace the Consultative State Council, which functioned from 1981 till 1991. The Majlis Al Shura is the lower house of the Council of Oman and has enjoyed some legislative and regulatory powers since 2011.