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The New Saudi Representative Assembly

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Since its founding, the Saudi government has never claimed the right to legislate; rather, it claims to “regulate” the sharīʿah by supplementing it without contradicting it. This understanding of lawmaking may help to explain the absence of a distinct legislative body in Saudi Arabia to the present day. For this reason, the Consultative Council that was introduced by the 1992 Saudi constitutional reform and established in late 1993 is of considerable interest because of its potential to transform Saudi law and politics. In this essay I analyze the new Consultative Council and consider its implications for the Saudi constitutional structure. My goals are (1) to analyze and assess the King's vision of the Consultative Council and its future role; (2) to explore the nature of the Consultative Council and the role that it may play in Saudi politics and society; and (3) to encourage scholars to pay greater attention to this important yet neglected institution.

Affiliations: 1: National Law Center, Riyadh


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