31 female civic poll candidates withdraw citing prohibitive costs

A Saudi woman is seen filing her candidacy for in the municipal election in this file photo.

A Saudi woman is seen filing her candidacy for in the municipal election in this file photo.

Thirty-one female candidates in the Kingdom were forced to withdraw from the municipal elections due to the high cost of media campaigns, low level of awareness about the importance of the elections, the absence of women’s support programs, and competitive blocs of male candidates.

One candidate, who withdrew from the elections in Madinah and preferred anonymity, said she did not find real support in the process of writing and drafting her electoral program, and was negatively impacted by the municipality’s requirement to hire a campaign manager, an expensive proposition.

Other challenges include blocs of male candidates, which minimize the chance of female candidates winning, she said.

“Based on my work in the field of charity and volunteering, I preferred not to continue as a candidate because my loss would affect the awareness program,” she explained. “I found myself with no choice but to withdraw due to these challenges, and leave the opportunity for others.”

Another candidate described the difficulty of reaching voters as the biggest challenge, due to lack of clear regulations for candidates and the low number of voters.

According to businesswoman and voter Maimouna Balfaqeeh, the initiative to involve women in municipal elections and their participation in local development should be met with some facilitating efforts, especially as female candidates discovered some of the requirements served as “stumbling blocks” in their path to electoral progress and success.

She said the challenges candidates face in the campaigns are inevitable and their active participation in the development of municipal affairs comes at a high cost.


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