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Saudi Arabia System of Government: Absolute Monarchy

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Saudi Arabian politics take place in a framework of a particular form of absolute monarchy whereby the King of Saudi Arabia is both Head of State and the head of government, but where decisions are to a large extent made on the basis of consultation among the senior Princes, with the King functioning as first among equals and ultimate arbiter. The Basic Law adopted in 1992 declared that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a monarchy ruled by the male descendants of King Abd Al Aziz Al Saud, and that the Qur'an is the constitution of the country, which is governed on the basis of Islamic law (Shari'a).

There are currently no recognized political parties or elections in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, except local non-partisan elections. In February 2011, in the midst of unrest throughout the Middle East, the newly-formed Islamic Umma Party ("Islamic People's Party") consisting of at least ten Islamists, human rights activists and lawyers unsuccessfully petitioned the King in an open letter for recognition and a voice in the Kingdom's affairs. The King's powers are theoretically only limited by Shari'a and other Saudi traditions, though he must retain a consensus of important elements in Saudi society such as religious leaders and the extensive Saudi royal family.

Announced in March 2011, following recurring protests for political and economic changes by a few hundred to a few thousand protesters in various parts of the country, municipal elections originally scheduled for 2009 were held in September.

Sources: nytimes.com, reuters.com, wikipedia.org

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