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Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by relimw, Feb 9, 2005.
What's your take on it?
Interesting news. I wonder how it compares to Chinese efforts to introduce small-scale democracy on the municipal level. It's a dangerous game for authoritarian governments to play because it is possible that elected governments can claim greater legitimacy than non-elected ones. But in this case it seems like a very limited approach. (I assume the Chinese one is too).
I wonder why they don't allow people in the military to vote. Apparently the house of Saud did not see Starship Troopers.
while I was initially underwhelmed with the Saudi effort(s), I tend to look again at this more charitably.
Sure, women cannot vote due to a "technicality" of language, mobilization and voter-turnout has been less than stellar so far, and it involves only half (this was not clear) of the seats in municipal councils (again, a little murky), whose power is not made clear.
I do, however, think it is a wise move on the part of the Saudi government, to co-opt the liberalization process that has been seeping through the region and mete it out at a deliberate pace to forstall any chaos. Considering that the Wahabis are among the most conservative practictioners of Islam, this is probably the best they could manage, while satisfying as many diverse elements as possible - The west (through "democratization"), the people (through limited democracy tied to culture), potential extremists (by providing a legitimate outlet for power and by the conservative nature of the reforms), and themselves (by stabilizing potentially dangerous arab nationalism/islamic fundamentalism and partially silencing harsh words from the west.)
If such is the case, Machaivelli would be proud, as would Metternich or Bismark. There is probably a lesson for the US in there somewhere, if we had the patience or the subtlety...
and milo, I doubt starship troopers is widely watched in Riyadh...<ahem>
Hmph. This is a country that worships instant gratification and frontier justice. It's 229 years later, and we're still playing catch-up to the rest of the world in that department.
But I have to agree...all political forces in Saudi Arabia considered, this is probably the fastest they can go in moving towards democracy. Be ironic if they ended up having more success in the end than we're having in Iraq. They're already doing it with far less bloodshed, violence and hatred...a lesson that I'm sure is lost on Dubya.