More than 5,000 men will compete in Saudi Arabia’s upcoming municipal elections: but no women, and nor will women be allowed to vote. The election commission announced the massive interest yesterday as candidates began campaigning for votes.
The elections, only the second in Saudi Arabia’s history, are scheduled for September 29 and are for half the seats in the kingdom’s 285 municipal councils. The other half are appointed by the government. Like the landmark elections for municipal council seats held in 2005, this year’s poll bans women from participating. As a result, more than 60 Saudi intellectuals and activists have called for a boycott of the ballot.
Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council, an all-appointed consultative assembly, has recommended allowing women to vote in the next polls. But these are not expected for at least four years, officials have said, and women will not be allowed to run for office.
According to the electoral commission, more than 1.2 million Saudi men have registered to vote.