Friday, February 11, 2005

A tip to a Saudi royal

Saudi men have voted in a municipal election in the capital Riyadh.

It's the first stage in an unprecedented nationwide vote as the absolute monarchy inches toward reform.

The polls, from which women are excluded, are part of a cautious programme of reform introduced by de facto ruler Crown Prince Abdullah.

He's faced calls for change at home and from Saudi Arabia's main ally, the United States, after the September 11 attacks which were carried out by mainly Saudi hijackers.

Voters are deciding just half the members of municipal councils, whose powers are likely to be limited. The government will appoint the other council members.

More than 1,800 candidates competed in Riyadh and some have spent large sums on campaigns.

They range from businessmen, tribal figures and security chiefs to academics and officials.

ABC Radio Australia

If you are a royal Saudi monarch who stumbled upon my blog (sorry to disappoint - the "spade" is not oil rigging tool nor is it a weapon), here's a tip - if you want to appear progressive, don't run elections where half your population are banned from voting!


Hatcher said...

The Saudi government has promised that women will vote in the next elections, in four years' time. It's also pledged that they will appoint women to council seats out of its share.

The government got bashed for not letting women vote this time around; they also got bashed for even thinking about it.

If you're interested in what's going on in the country, I'm blogging it at Crossroads Arabia.

Neo Coneli said...

Thanks for your comments and your blog link (For readers info, if the above links failed, try - very interesting reading!

Robert Mayer said...

Crossroads Arabia is definitely a fine resource ;)

In any case, I am always divided between popular revolt toward democracy and slow, progressive reform. But it dawns upon me that reform is the rule, and revolution is the exception.

While revolution sweeps the slate clean, it is something that has to happen under the right circumstances. Eastern Europe is a unique case study, but the Middle East is a very different place, with a very different culture. Full elections held right now could very well sweep radical Islamists into power. Freedom creates democracy, but it does not necessarily happen the other way around.