[LMB] OT: Saudi Arabia more democratic than Barrayar

Tel teldreaming at gmail.com
Mon Sep 26 03:27:57 BST 2011


On Sun, Sep 25, 2011 at 9:20 AM,  <phoenix at ugcs.caltech.edu> wrote:
> http://www.smh.com.au/world/saudi-king-gives-women-right-to-vote-20110925-1krzf.html
>
> "Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah has announced he is giving women the right
> to vote and run in municipal elections, the only public polls in the
> ultra-conservative Gulf kingdom.
>
> He also announced on Sunday that women would have the right to join the
> all-appointed Shura (consultative) Council, in an address opening a new
> term of the council."
>
> "More than 5000 men will compete in Thursday's municipal elections, only
> the second in Saudi Arabia's history, to fill half the seats in the
> kingdom's 285 municipal councils. The other half are appointed by the
> government.
>
> The first elections were held in 2005, but the government extended the
> existing councils' term for two more years."

Yeah, their inability to hold regular elections is...notable. Note
that they're not getting the right to vote in -this- election, just
subsequent ones that may or may not happen. I would suggest tracking
down some Saudi activist opinions on the subject.

> Relatedly:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shura#Shura_and_contemporary_Muslim-majority_states
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consultative_Assembly_of_Saudi_Arabia
> "Shura is an Arabic word for "consultation". Quran and the Prophet
> encourage Muslims to decide their affairs in consultation with those who
> will be affected by that decision."

The Shura Council is kind of meaningless, though.

> OTOH, this is one version of what reform in a monarchy looks like.
> Create an appointed formally powerless consultative body; have low-level
> elections; have elections to the powerless consultative body; yield
> powers to the consultative body...  Pretty common path, with various
> permutations. (Cf. again all those Estates-General and Parliament
> variants.)

Well, the 'yield power' is the critical bit, and I don't think that's
really happened in any meaningful way yet in Saudi Arabia (or
Barrayar). Serious yielding power via elections would be more like
1989 Poland.

-Tel



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