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Saudi elections: Serious or just for show?

Many observers criticize the recent Saudi election as a largely empty gesture, but others say it marks a first step toward societal change in the kingdom.
A woman leaves a polling station after casting her vote during municipal elections, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia December 12, 2015. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser - RTX1YCBD
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Turnout was low for the third-ever election held in Saudi Arabia — and the first in which women were allowed to vote and run for office — but many consider the results significant.

Under the slogan “Take part in the decision-making process,” 703,000 Saudis cast their votes at ballot boxes Dec. 12 in races for 284 municipal councils. Voters were able to elect two-thirds of the total 3,159 council members; the minister of municipal and rural affairs appoints 1,053 members.

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