Women, you are allowed to vote. – For me. If at all.

Last weekend, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has announced that women might in future be allowed to stand as candidates in municipal elections and “will even have a right to vote”. Among women’s rights activists, excitement and optimism have been reported.

I am shocked, not by the king’s announcement, but by the positive reception. Wake up, people! It’s time for a reality check:

  1. So far, this is only an announcement. Nothing concrete yet.

    "Sure you can vote, woman: beheading or gallows?"

    “Sure you can vote, woman: beheading or gallows?”

  2. The voting rights that shall so generously be bestowed upon women concern municipal elections of the future. Coincidentally, the next municipal elections will take place later this week, ensuring that an all-male electorate will elect all-male councils for the maximum term.
  3. The municipal councils have nothing much to say. Half of their members are appointed by the king, only the other half are elected. Each of the 13 regions has a governor (yes, you guessed it, he is again appointed by the king) who makes all the decisions. The councils can do a bit of talking.
  4. Women won’t be allowed to vote for or be elected to a national parliament. The king didn’t need to specify this because there is no parliament in Saudi Arabia.
  5. The king also announced that he may appoint women to the Shura Council. This is also no big deal, as (a) the king could always appoint whomever he wanted to and (b) this consulting body has absolutely no powers at all. It cannot pass laws.

This announcement is a publicity stunt, nothing more. It is sad that so many news organisations and NGOs have fallen for it.

In other news from this “modernising and reforming kingdom”, a Saudi woman has been sentenced to 10 lashes today for driving a car.

Let’s call the bluff and call it what it is: A dictator in one of the world’s most oppressive countries makes an empty promise to women that they can vote for people who have nothing to say, in a country that doesn’t allow political parties, but only if the women manage to leave their house on election day which they may not do without a male guardian and never behind the wheel of a car. Some kind of progress. In 2011.

About Andreas Moser

You will most likely find me in the forest, next to the lake, reading a book. Just follow the cigar smoke!
This entry was posted in Elections, Human Rights, Law, Politics, Saudi Arabia and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Women, you are allowed to vote. – For me. If at all.

  1. John Erickson says:

    I understand security needs and geopolitical power structures (and the value of Saudi Arabia therein), but it never ceases to amaze how little attention the US population pays to the day-to-day life in the Kingdom. Yet we cheer on the rebels in Egypt, Libya, and elsewhere, where people (and women in particular) have far more rights.
    Then again, with the typically insular American outlook, I guess I should feel glad that 1/4 of our population can even FIND Saudi Arabia on a map (if it’s truly that many)…..

    • And notice how nobody ever calls it a dictatorship or an oppressive state? We call it a “kingdom”, as if it was part of a fairy tale.

      • Lillian Smith says:

        Well the reason is simple really. Saudi Arabia is an American creation. The US government made a deal way back in tearly last century to back the bedouin clan of Saud, elevating them to kings and from that to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which name is derived from the Saud family name. This was done to secure exclusive American rights to the oil fields, for which the Sauds were to be paid very handsomely even though they contributed zilch to the process and except for an accident of geography, they would have remain as poor as other the non-oil producing countries of North Africa. The Saud family followed the despotic Wahhabi sect of Islam and the Kingdom is run on its rigid and barbaric lines to this day. Even though it is a totalitarian regime were public beheadings and amputations are a weekly occurance and women are hidden and owned by their nearest male relative, the US considers this country one of its strongest ally, despite the ample evidence that Saudi Arabia also funds madrasses and terrorist groups all over the world. The King and his family have become enourmously wealthy and powerful thanks to the the trillions of dollars they have earned from the West for their Oil, which until the Americans came, they did not have any use for. It has been said that Saudi Prince Bandar (he is half black) was the only person able to have access to the Bush White House and the President, without having to go through the normal channels.

        In short, there exists a long standing symbiotic relationship between Saudi Arabia and the American Oil companies. And as we all know, money, and lots of it, trumps Freedom and Democracy each and every time. America gets Saudi Oil and in turn it props up the despotic Saudi regime.

        And this in a nutshell is why you will never hear any public criticism of Saudi Arabia by the American Government or Press.

  2. “Fortune and love favor the brave.” ~ Ovid

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