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Saudi Arabia's Political System

Since Abdulaziz Ibn Saud gathered most of the Arabian Peninsula in 1932, Saudi Arabia has been a monarchy and a unified state monarchy. The country's founder got 45 recognized sons, many of whom have characterized the government. Six of these have succeeded him as king and leader: Saud, Faisal, Khalid, Fahd, Abdullah and Salman. The succession is based neither on formal rules nor an established tradition, and the king in effect appoints himself his crown prince and heir, as well as the government. The king also has the title "protector of the two holy cities," which refers to Islamtwo holiest cities, Mecca and Medina, located in Saudi Arabia. Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of SA and its meanings of Saudi Arabia.

Government and Politics of Saudi Arabia

Constitution and the judiciary

Saudi Arabia has no ordinary constitution, but in 1992 was given a set of governing principles which, among other things, establish some of the citizens' duties and rights, and that the kings of the country should be direct descendants of Ibn Saud. The first article proclaims that the country's constitution is Islam.

The law is thus essentially not codified, and the country should in principle be governed by Islamic law, Sharia. In most cases, the conservative Islamic Hanbali law school is followed. In addition, the king can issue laws in the form of royal decrees, often dealing with matters not covered by Islamic law, such as traffic offenses.

The judiciary is dominated by the conservative religious establishment. The Supreme Judicial Council comprises 11 members and is the supreme court. It oversees the other courts, makes statements in cases submitted by the Minister of Justice and otherwise makes statements on legal issues. Furthermore, there is a court of cassation, headed by the Supreme Court Justice, a number of general (public) courts and special courts, including business law. Several civil laws have been introduced.

Saudi Arabia practices corporal punishment, including whipping, amputation and execution by decapitation.

Political system

The king holds legislative, executive and judicial powers. In 1993, the country received a national consultative council (Majlis al-shura), which since 2005 has 150 members. The members are appointed by the king and sit for four years. In 2013, female members were first appointed, and around 20 per cent of Council members have since been women. The Council can initiate legislation and oversee government policy.

Saudi Arabia is divided into 13 administrative regions, which are again divided into districts. Governors, most often members of the royal family, are appointed from a central position. In 2005, for the first time elections for about half of municipal councils were held. In 2015, women had the right to vote in elections for the first time. Political parties are not allowed and the elected municipal councils have little influence.

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