Saudi Arabia Extends Right to Vote to Women

Via the BBC:  Women in Saudi Arabia to vote and run in elections

Women in Saudi Arabia are to be given the right to vote and run in future municipal elections, King Abdullah has announced.

He said they would also have the right to be appointed to the consultative Shura Council.

The move was welcomed by activists who have called for greater rights for women in the kingdom, which enforces a strict version of Sunni Islamic law.

The changes will occur after municipal polls on Thursday, the king said.

While I would consider this a positive move, the bottom line remains that the extent of Saudi elections are rather, well, limited:

Municipal elections are the only public polls in Saudi Arabia.

More than 5,000 men will compete in municipal elections on Thursday – the second-ever in the kingdom – to fill half the seats in local councils. The other half are appointed by the government.

The next municipal elections are due in four years’ time.

FILED UNDER: Middle East, Quick Takes, World Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Ryan Spires says:


  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Next thing you know, they will be wanting to drive and go out in public with out a male escort and then they will all be wearing miniskirts with low cut blouses and “come-f***-me-boots” and a purse full of condoms.

    I’m telling you this is the beginning of the age of Saudi decadence.

  3. Neil Hudelson says:

    Perhaps Saudi rulers have gotten scared of the amazingly persistent unrest in Syria, Yemen, and their neighbors Bahrain. They are using enlarged democracy as a safety valve to hopefully blow off some steam.

  4. This seems to be a standard Saudi practice. Introduce incremental reforms, or at least announce that you’re going to do so, in the hopes of staving off popular unrest. They also use money for that purpose.

  5. Max Lybbert says:

    Another commenter ( ) points out that women voting still won’t be able to drive themselves to the polls, and may need to allow a male chaperone into the voting booth with them. Not much of a reform.

  6. This is nothing more than a publicity stunt and an empty promise. What’s the point of elections if there is NO parliament in Saudi Arabia? =>