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Elections in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Candidates for most executive positions in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are chosen through elections, where citizens can effectively participate in the decision-making process. This is considered a significant milestone in the Kingdom’s progress towards building a participation-based society, in all respects.

1- Municipal Council Elections

Elections will allow the citizens to participate in the decision-making process by voting for the competent and experienced candidates who will manage the local affairs and municipal services. Municipal councils draws their significance from the contribution of citizens to the management of services in the government agencies. This contribution helps in supporting the government decision making at all levels based on the interests of citizens. Moreover, this contribution allows citizens to share responsibility with government agencies, resulting in increased awareness and initiatives of citizens.

The Municipal Council shall be composed of a number of members, appointed by the Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs. According to the municipal system, the Municipal Council should not have no more than 30 members, two thirds of whom shall be elected and one third appointed by a decision of the Minister. The Municipal Council has a term of the four financial years beginning on the date of the State's fiscal year.

Who is eligible to vote?

Article 17 of the Municipal Councils Law stipulates that: "Every citizen (male or female) has the right to vote if the following conditions are met:

  • 18 years of age or over on polling day.
  • Has full legal competency.
  • Should not be a solider on the job.
  • To be a resident of the constituency in which the election takes place. If he/she has a place of residence in more than one constituency, he/she must choose one of them only.

Who has the right to run for membership of municipal councils?

Article 18 of the Municipal Councils Law stipulates that: "Every voter has the right to stand for municipal councils’ membership if the following conditions are met:

  • He/she must be registered in electoral rolls of the constituency for which he/she wishes to run.
  • 25 years of age or over on polling day.
  • His/her academic qualification must not be lower than a general secondary certificate or equivalent certificate.
  • Shall not be found guilty in a crime that relates to honor, trust or morals, unless he has been rehabilitated. 
  • Shall not be suspended from public service for disciplinary reasons, unless three years have elapsed.
  • Shall not be sentenced to fraudulent bankruptcy.
  • His/her membership in the municipal council should not be projected in the previous term of the Council.

During its previous sessions, municipal councils contributed to the development of municipal work. Plans and programs were developed and projects implementation were monitored. Councils have responded to citizens’ needs for better services. Municipalities’ performance was activated while upgrading their capabilities in order to achieve its objectives.

Stages of Elections Process

Registration of Voters:

In this stage, eligible voters are registered in special electoral rolls at the elections centers within the municipal council constituencies. Upon completion of the registration period, electoral rolls will be published for any contestations and corrections. Registration is optional. However, failure to register during the specified period will result in losing the right for voting/candidacy in the polling day. 

Registration of Candidates:

In order to avail the candidacy right, the candidate shall be registered in the electoral rolls. Nomination of candidates will be made during the specified period and under certain procedures preceding the issuance and publishing of the list of candidates for contestation and correction purposes before they are finally published.

Candidates Electoral Campaigns:

This stage stars after the publication of the final candidates list. Candidates will be allowed to start their electoral campaigns and introduce themselves, their electoral programs, ideas, inspirations and future plans.  A candidate is not allowed to start his/her electoral campaign or declare his/her candidacy before publishing of the final lists of candidate names. Campaigns are important for candidates as well as voters. They give the voter the opportunity to decide on the most suitable candidate who possesses necessary qualities for membership of the municipal council. On the other hand, it is an opportunity for the candidate to deliver his/her message to the voters and introduce himself/herself to the voters in order to gain their support on the polling day.

Ballot:

Ballot is the most important part of the elections process. All the previous actions are considered preparatory to the ballot day. Voters will cast their ballots on this day and select their candidates according to the established procedures at the polling centers.

Votes Count:

It is a process that is conducted under certain procedure to identify successful candidates. It is conducted upon completion of the ballot process. Votes will be counted at the same election center by votes counting committees.

Announcement of Results:

Upon completion of the counting process, the list of successful candidates will be announced with votes obtained by each candidate. By announcing the final elections results, the election process comes to an end. The only remaining thing will be the results of appeals/ contestations, if any.

Appeals and Contestations:

Every voter/candidate has the right to file appeal before the appeal and contestation committee. The appeal will be against any decision taken by the election committees or against the committee failing to take a decision in favor of voter/candidate according to the law. Also, voter/candidate has the right to file appeal, at certain times and dates specified by rules and regulations, against any name registered in the lists of voters/candidates. Appeal and contestation committees enjoy complete independence.

The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs has been keen to launch “Election” application for smart devices. It contains all elections-related e-services, rules and details:

2- Chambers of Commerce and Industry Elections

The councils of Chambers of Commerce and Industry are chosen through direct voting by members. Selecting a distinctive and efficient head, lends chambers the momentum to push forwards.

3- University Elections

University students use elections to select the presidents of student clubs, selecting the person they regarded as the representative best able to realize their desires and objectives.

4- Authorities Elections

- Saudi Council of Engineers
Engineers select representatives to be assigned leadership positions on the Saudi Council of Engineers. These representatives organize and manage the affairs and requirements of all engineers in Saudi Arabia.

- Saudi Council of Journalists
The board of the Saudi Council of Journalists is constituted through election in which all members participate.

5- Cooperative Society Elections

The board members of cooperative societies working in Saudi Arabia, some 162 societies in all, are selected by elections.
These societies have been established for various reasons and include multi-purpose societies, agricultural societies and fishermen’s societies, in addition to societies relating to marketing, consumers, housing and vocational pursuits.
Cooperative society boards consist of 17 members, who hold most seats and six seats for representatives from the five Ministries as well as from an agricultural financing corporation.

6- Sports Club Elections

Board’s members at Saudi sport clubs are chosen by election. These include associations involved in boxing, wrestling, karate, football, tennis, basketball, volleyball athletics, swimming, weightlifting, bodybuilding, cycling, judo and fencing, in addition to other sports.

7- Labor Committees Elections

Labor committees exist at any corporation with more than 100 employees. The idea of establishing such committees in the Kingdom arose in 2001, after approval by the Council of Ministers Resolution.

8- Cultural Association Elections

Members of cultural associations (literary clubs, culture and arts associations, etc.) select their representatives through general assemblies. Elected representatives have financial, cultural and administrative authority over their clubs, which can lead to more effective promotion of cultural activities.

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Last Modified Date: 05/03/2020 - 10:33 AM Saudi Arabia Time
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