Municipal Councils, the result of the first-ever nationwide series of elections in the KSA have turned out to be a practical bust. They may yet have served a purpose, though, in getting people used to the idea of representational government, even if it is ineffectual.
It seems to be that there were no clear rules about how the councils might work. In the absence of guidelines, the members have been left in purely observer status, with no power to actually do anything.
My suspicion is that the elections were held prematurely, before anyone in the central government or even the municipalities had sufficient chance to sit down and decide just what they were about. Perhaps this was in part due to US pressure toward democratization. That is, in fact, entirely feasible. But having the councils end up powerless is not a great move. I do not think, however, that it was intended from the start that the councils be toothless. It is, I believe, a matter of getting the cart before the horse.
The next municipal elections are scheduled to be held in 2009. Perhaps by then—when women are also supposed to be able to vote in the elections—those in authority will have figured out just how and where to draw the lines of power-sharing. Disappointing.
RIYADH, 1 August 2007 â€” Municipal councilors who won the 2005 elections that were held Kingdomwide will only play the role of observers in collecting information from their constituencies and reporting back to their respective municipal councils, according to the legislative framework that is currently in the works.
â€œThey will not be able to do anything to redress the grievances of citizens who elected them from their constituencies,â€ Turki Faisal Al-Rasheed, founder and CEO of the website www.saudielection.com, told Arab News.
In other words, they will not be able to deliver on their manifesto presented to the electorate in 2005.