Last updated: 14 December, 2015

At least 20 women elected in Saudi: commission

At least 20 women have won seats for the first time in Saudi Arabia’s municipal polls, the elections commission said on Monday.

“The number of women winners until now has reached 20,” Gadei al-Qahtani, the commission spokesman, told AFP.

That total could increase by one because Qahtani said a man and a woman got the same number of votes in one district, and the final winner will be determined in the next three days.

With 2,106 seats at stake in last Saturday’s vote, the 20 women will comprise less than one percent of the elected council membership.

Another one-third of seats will be appointed, and activists are pushing for strong female representation in the selection.

Official results show that the women’s victories were spread across the kingdom, from small towns to the largest cities.

Men have voted in the local elections since 2005 but this was the first time women could cast ballots and stand as candidates.

Female voter turnout was nearly 80 percent in places, compared with about 50 percent of registered male voters, according to an AFP analysis of official data.