Oman ruling system
The concept of consultation despite being an integral part of Ibadi Islam and the governing council was not a tradition within the practices of Oman’s contemporary sultanate. However, Qabus ibn Said established the consultative council by royal decree on October 18, 1981, leading to the transformation of the Oman ruling system. In the beginning, the council consisted of forty-three members but was later underwent an expansion to fifty-five in 1983 with the representation of the seven geographic regions weighted according to population size and development needs of the Oman people (Delgado, 2016). The government had nineteen officials who were members of the council, whereby eleven out of them were under the secretaries of social service ministries. The remaining seven government officials could serve a maximum of two terms the same way to the term of other consultative council members.
Legislative powers by the Oman council
According to the Oman political structure, the Consultative Council does not have legislative powers but plays an integral role in consultation matters of the state. It draws the composition of its entire representatives from Oman’s fifty-nine Wilayah consisting of governorates and other sub-legislative groups. The selection of the candidates takes place through the Muscat-appointed governors and can also be affected through nominations by friends or themselves. After the nomination process, there is the submission of the names of three candidates to the deputy prime minister for legal affairs in Muscat, who conducts the selection for the final candidates, who must also have the endorsement by the sultan (Abhyankar, 2019).
According to Delgado, (2016), the members of the Consultative Council cannot include government officials or state workers. However, this condition has an automatic exclusion when it comes political pooling of experienced individuals since it intended to compromise possible potential allegations of conflict of interest within the governing bodies. Rather than offering legitimate criticism and alternative policies to the state, the inclusion of eleven undersecretaries in the Consultative Council had an intention of strengthening it as a platform responsible for maintaining of the status quo. The Consultative Council’s recommendations did not include defense, foreign affairs, or the petroleum sector. It three meetings annually, with each session taking an average of three days to a week. Some of the combined roles of the Consultative Council challenges include restricted format, infrequent meetings, and lack of veto powers to perform certain specific roles in the governing council.
Despite the above shortcomings, the public has received exposure to a limited part of the government structure through the news reports and televised broadcasts of the Consultative Council. Again, the exposure also led to the modest introduction of the concept of accountability within the government agencies, although the ultimate authority of the sultan remained unquestioned. Understanding the role of the new Consultative Council can perhaps best be related to the framework of Oman’s graduated development process. In favor of the preservation of the status quo, Qabus ibn Said rejected a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary system in 1971 leading to major changes.
Evolution of the consultative council
Subsequently, the Consultative Council underwent evolution from an earlier advisory body, of the Council on Agriculture, Fisheries, and Industries, to a well-established and effective economic system (Abhyankar, 2019). The success of the council emerged largely in serving as an “outside” body offering policy recommendations to the sultan and the ministers, despite having a relatively narrow scope. In 1981, the consultative concept was abolished and seven of its twelve members were incorporated into the Consultative Council. The Consultative Council, therefore, promoted the modest expansion of the political system in Oman that helps in the administration of the governance processes.
Elections at the Consultative Council
The elections of the Consultative Council members take place directly from all provinces of the sultanate. Oman, having a composition of each district with an approximate population of 30,000 provides for the election of two members, while smaller districts with less than that number have the chance to elect one representative. The candidates who garner the greatest number of votes are elected to serve for the period of four years and also stand chances for re-election when they vie again. Further, Oman leaving in other countries have the obligation to similarly participate in the elections allowing them to express their democratic rights Delgado, (2016). In contrary to other democracies, the Oman elections have less attraction to the international observers and other responsible agencies for overseeing a perfect electoral process.
According to Abhyankar, (2019), any person in Oman who has attained the age of thirty years is entitled to participate in the voting processes enabling them to chose leaders of their choices. In total, the Consultative Council has 84 seats that see a battle of total number 1113 candidates competing democratically during the elections. The candidates are expected to have exemplary social history without any past records of criminal engagement. Besides, they should also possess an unquestionable reputation, with the right academic standards coupled with appropriate practical experiences. Further, the introduction of the new legislation and powers in Oman through the Consultative Council has prompted the generation of strong public interests in the election processes creating a very competitive environment for the elections.
The candidate’s nominations are required to be submitted prior and candidacies could face withdrawal until a later date that the electoral committee suggests. There have been hopes invoicing for a higher representation of women in the Assembly, despite the number of female candidates being roughly half of that for the other previous elections, in which very few women were elected. The number of elected women to the Consultative Council has since been sliding from the year 2004, to 2007b when whereby in the two capital constituencies of Muscat, only two women won the elections. However, in the year 2007, the elections in Oman never had any successful woman candidate hence many of the female candidates accusing the voters of not taking them seriously.
Oman has no gender restriction when it comes to the electoral processes (Shura Council, 2019). It gives both men and women equal rights and opportunities to take part in the election during voting. Also, the system has no consideration for the education status of the individuals participating in the election of the leaders in Oman. It gives privileges to both the literate and the illiterate to fully exercise their rights during the elections. The level of education does not determine who will or will not take part in the election. Moreover, an individual’ social status also has no determination to the people’s rights to vote. All the citizens have an equal right to taking part in the elections when the right time comes. What matters for the system is whether the voter has attained the minimum qualifications. However, there are some groups of people in Oman who have been restricted to take part in the elections because they are not fit in terms of the conduct’s requirement.
Comparison of the Congress of deputies and the Consultative Council
The Congress of Deputies in Spain has an obligation of performing constitutional functions enabling it to exercise legislative powers of the state while the Consultative Council in Oman does not have powers over the legislature. The Congress controls functions of the government as well as conducting other relevant duties assigned to it by the constitution hence becoming a very integral player in the ruling system of Spain. On the other hand, the Consultative Council plays an integral role in consultation matters of the state adopting its budget processes and formulation policies within the state. Again, the Congress through the constitution has uttermost supremacy with all series of duties with powers that the constitution endows upon it over the determination of key government decision processes.
The elections of members at both the Congress and the Consultative Council takes place via a democratic process. In both cases, the individual members who intend to vote to undergo registration processes prior to the day of elections ensuring that they meet the minimum qualifications for the voter registration. For instance, Spain has set the age of 18 years as the minimum requirement for people to participate in the voting process (Delgado, 2016). Contrary, Oman suggests that a person who has attained the age of thirty years is entitled to participate in the voting processes enabling them to chose leaders of their choices during the elections. Hence, the two systems have different age limits determining the voting eligibility of the persons leaving in those countries.
In the case of Congress, the European Union has provisions for enabling other whites from outside Spain to take part in the general elections in Spain. This group of people undergo registration in Spain and thereafter are issued with a letter from the electoral census office where they then answer questions on their willingness to participate in the elections. However, as for the case of Oman, the election of Consultative members does not have such provisions of other people outside Oman taking part in the voting processes. Instead, their constitution stipulates that only the members of the country have the obligations to vote. However, Oman leaving outside the country have the opportunity to participate in the elections of the Consultative Council members (Shura Council, 2019). They have a set date in October enabling them to elect leaders of their choices to represent them in the Consultative Council when the electoral body calls for elections.
The composition of both Congress and the Consultative Council show a significant variation. The Congress of Deputies is composed of 350 members who are directly elected by the people to serve for the period of four years in the office (Congress, 2019). For Oman, the Consultative Council has a composition of 84 elected members from the nation’s population and just like for the Congress in Spain, they also serve for four renewable years. Again, the election of both members of the Congress and the Consultative Council, are drawn from the provinces in both countries. Spain does the elections of the Congress based on fifty provinces having several constituencies having a minimum of two representatives each. Consequently, Oman’s Consultative Council has provinces having entitlement to a minimum of one member in the elections with the difference coming from the population of the provinces.
According to Delgado, (2016), the members of the Consultative Council in Oman cannot include government officials or the civil servants but must be non-partisan members who have no political interests. Such requirements are put into place by the Oman systems of rules to curb the cases of conflicts of interest by the officials while serving the citizens. However, Spain does have such restrictions concerning the election of its members to Congress. The country provides freedom to any eligible candidate to vie for the elective positions, expecting them to exercise integrity while serving at the office. However, the Oman condition on serving at the Consultative Council has an automatic exclusion when it comes to political pooling of experienced individuals since it intended to compromise possible potential allegations of conflict of interest within the governing bodies.
The governance at the Consultative Council faces some challenges including restricted format, infrequent meetings, and lack of veto powers to perform certain specific roles in the governing council. Based on these problems, the council has not achieved effective implementation of its policies when it comes to addressing the economic matters of importance such as defense, foreign affairs, or the petroleum sector. On the other hand, the Congress in Spain does not have related leadership challenges since it has direct authority in determining the formation of the government, calling for its cessation when necessary, and also being the first determinant of bills and budgets procedures. Therefore, it has the capability of setting necessary allocations for meeting its expected roles effectively.
The Congress in Spain, unlike Oman’s Consultative Council, has seen a large representation of women in the parliament, unlike the olden days for both countries. After eighty-eight years of suffering, Spain recorded the highest number of women as the congress deputies in the history of Spanish politics. Hence, the filling of this gender parity gap has made Spain the parliament leader in the EU women’s league. Oman on the other side has its Council suffering from underrepresentation by the women. For instance, between the years 2004, and 207, the country only had two women elected to serve in the chambers. Hence, the majority of them coming out in public to criticize the conduct of their people when it comes to voting exercise and their choice of candidates.
In conclusion, the comparison between the Congress in Spain and the Consultative Council of Oman present both similarities and differences in their composition and how they function. The Congress of Deputies is the lower house in Spanish government performing the constitutional functions by exercising the legislative powers of the state, adopting its budget processes, controlling functions of the government as well as conducting other relevant duties assigned to it by the constitution. On the other hand, the Consultative Council in Oman is also the lower house and the legislative body that has its members elected in an open and fair democratic process but with limited powers to the legislature. The elections of both members of the Congress and the Consultative in both countries takes place in a free democratic process where the people elect their desired leaders. However, the two forms of leadership in both countries also show differences in terms of the number of elective posts and the regions over which elections are conducted.
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