10 Saudi women win municipal seats, in historic poll

10 Saudi women win municipal seats, in historic poll

Sunday, December 13, 2015 10:49 pm

A Saudi woman votes

A Saudi woman votes

Saudi Arabia announced the results of its third  municipal poll Sunday with 2,106 winning candidates, including 10 women, the first time that women are allowed to vote in the country, Saudi press Agency reported.

The 343 Saudi constituencies distributed all over the country’s districts permit citizens above 18 years of age to vote.

The General Elections Committee Head, Abdullateef bin Abdullah Al Shaikh, declared in a statement that out of a total of 1.4 million eligible voters, 702,542 cast their votes, or 47.4% of the population.

This, being the first time women were both allowed to run and vote in Saudi Arabia’s municipal elections, is a historic decision which, according to Al Arabiya local news, recorded that 24% of voters were women.

Actual definite figures of winning female candidates aren’t final as no official statements concerning it have yet been made.

A Saudi woman: some measure of democratic rights

A Saudi woman: some measure of democratic rights

However, local press place the numbers between nine and 17 winning female candidates.

The landmark move to include women in the electoral process comes despite the fact that Saudi Arabia has no elected parliament, but rather an appointed consultative council, where members propose legislations, yet lack any power either to draft or approve laws.

In 2005, elections for half the numbers of the municipal councillors were held, with the other half appointed, and it included only male candidates and voters.

Municipal elections scheduled for 2009 were postponed indefinitely “for evaluation,” purposes.

Eventually, municipal elections were rescheduled and took place in 2011, however, women’s full participation as both candidates and voters was delayed until 2015.

Following numerous struggles, campaigning and law suits for women’s suffrage, on September 25, 2011, King Abdullah finally declared before the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia, that Saudi women would be permitted to both run and cast ballots in the 2015 municipal elections.

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