RIYADH — In the frantic run-up to the municipal council elections, it seems some candidates have already lost. That is if their campaign stalls are anything to go by, which except for the rare trickle are embarrassingly lacking in visitors. Yet others are deluged by citizens, quizzing and cross-examining the candidate, to gauge whether or not he deserves their vote this Thursday.
Some candidates here have rented massive special occasion halls and rest houses for their camps while others have erected huge marquees. Most camps are elegant with candidates’ images adorning the outside and five-star furniture inside, where coffee and cold drinks are served to thirsty voters, according to Al-Watan Arabic daily.
In one candidate’s camp north of the city there was a huge turnout of young and old people. Besides the candidate’s usual speech and discussion with voters, the camp was also equipped with modern technology, such as huge monitors and displays promoting his various programs. Isa Al-Isa, candidate for the Fourth District north of Riyadh, said that besides the election camp he uses Twitter and Facebook and his own website, adding that he wants to convince people that he will deliver on his promises.
As for the voters in the north of Riyadh, they have a variety of views and ambitions. Older people seem keen on candidates with manifestos with strong infrastructure and sustainable development plans. Meanwhile, younger visitors are interested in candidates who promise them entertainment and sports services. But all voters are united in demanding a candidate who will stop the menace of “excavations” that has become a daily drilling headache for the city’s residents.
Fahd Al-Dowsari says only candidates with experience in municipal services should be allowed to run. “They should have a clear vision and plan to execute ideas instead of the current situation where candidates have no idea about the services that are of interest to residents,” he said. He added some candidates have convinced him with their programs and he will vote for them as “they have realistic programs and ambitions”.
Abdulaziz Al-Shehri, a citizen, said he visited several camps in the past few days and listened to many promises that lacked “objectivity”.
“What I witnessed after the last election does not indicate to me that those who are elected on Thursday will fulfill their promises. They need authority and more support to be able to execute their plans,” he said. — SG