Opposition groups and individuals made an impressive showing in the National Assembly elections by winning almost half of the 50 seats, with Kuwaiti voters dealing a heavy blow to the previous Assembly that failed to stop the government from raising petrol prices. The Islamist, nationalist and liberal opposition, which returned to the polls after a four-year boycott, won at least 15 seats, with between seven and 10 seats won by its allies. This will enable the opposition to grill ministers and vote them out of office, which will considerably boost its power in the next Assembly. Islamists make the backbone of the opposition, with the Islamic Constitutional Movement (ICM), the local arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, bagging four seats and a few supporters.
Articles about voting issues in the State of Kuwait.
In spite of the long and leading march of democracy of Kuwait, the parliamentary election law does not give citizens abroad the opportunity to vote as is the case in most democratic countries. It has been the practice in democratic countries where citizens living abroad are allowed to vote in the elections, even if they are resident outside the country, making it easier for the voters to exercise their right and increase the rate of participation in the electoral process.
Participation of Kuwaitis living or studying abroad is of a great significance especially with the rise in their numbers in recent years, which is difficult for many of them to return to the country on time for the parliamentary elections.
Liberals and candidates from some of Kuwait’s more marginalized tribes have won seats in a parliament which may prove more cooperative with the ruling family after opposition Islamists and populists boycotted the election. Saturday’s ballot was the sixth since 2006 in the major oil producer, where political upheaval and bureaucracy have held up the vast majority of projects in a 30-billion-dinar ($105-billion) economic development plan announced in 2010. Kuwait has the most open political system in the Gulf Arab region but parliaments have been repeatedly dissolved over procedural disputes or for challenging the government in which members of the ruling Al-Sabah family hold top posts.
Kuwait is set to hold parliamentary elections for the third time in 18 months, as a boycott by the opposition movement undermines public interest in the campaign. The vote on July 27 will go ahead after the country’s constitutional court this week rejected an attempt to postpone it. Kuwait’s opposition won the first of last year’s two elections in February, then refused to take part in the second in December, objecting to changes in voting rules that sparked the country’s most violent street protests. The movement, a mix of Sunni Islamists, liberals and youth groups inspired by the Arab Spring uprisings, has called for Kuwait’s rulers to share more powers with elected politicians. It says changes to voting rules ordered last year by Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah were aimed at reducing its chances of winning and making it easier for candidates to buy votes. The emir said they would bolster the democratic process and safeguard unity in Kuwait, OPEC’s third-biggest oil producer.
Kuwait: Crisis-weary Kuwait limps toward parliamentary elections with implications for nation, region | The Washington Post
From boycotting ballots to storming parliament, each time Kuwait heads into parliamentary elections the backstory seems to overshadow the vote. Yet the revolving-door series of elections could have an impact not only on this tiny, oil-rich state, but also on fellow nations in the Gulf and the rest of the region. For the election Saturday to pick a new 50-seat parliament — the most empowered elected political body in the Gulf — there might be another boycott, but the real question is whether the vote will ease the internal pressures on Kuwait’s Western-backed ruling dynasty. The challenges come from an emboldened opposition that includes groups ideologically linked to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood on the one hand, and on the other, liberals angered by crackdowns such as prison sentences over social media posts.
A Kuwaiti administrative court threw out on Sunday legal challenges to a parliamentary election set for July 27, a judicial source and an elections candidate said, effectively paving the way for the vote to proceed on time. Almost constant factional infighting over the past seven years has prompted repeated elections, stalled infrastructure development and held up economic reforms in Kuwait, an important Gulf Arab oil producer and U.S. ally. A legal source said the Kuwait Administrative Court ruled it had no jurisdiction to look into three legal challenges by Kuwaiti citizens to the vote. One case related to a request to incorporate a residential area into one of the five electoral districts, while another pertained to whether the government had lost its legitimacy and thus its eligibility to call for new elections after a court ordered the dissolution of the previous parliament.
Separate petitions have been lodged in Kuwait calling for the impromptu election on July 27 to be cancelled. One petition claims the Cabinet did not have the power to set a new poll date because under Kuwaiti law it must have an elected representative from the National Assembly to make decisions, according to Kuwait Times. The assembly was sacked last month after the Constitutional Court ruled the December 2012 election was null and void, leaving only government members appointed by the prime minister.
Kuwait’s constitutional court forced new parliamentary elections Sunday, dissolving the current chamber on the basis of flaws in the election law, the state news agency reported. The decision may set the stage for a new wave of political showdowns in the Gulf nation. The ruling follows objections to the voting law in December’s election, which was boycotted by opposition groups and others who claimed the new rules favored Kuwait’s ruling family and were imposed without public debate.
With the elections quickly approaching, anticipation as well as tensions have grown on the Kuwaiti streets, with many people still leading the charge on the appeal to boycotting on one hand, while equally a great number still insist on the importance of voting, referring to the upcoming elections as a celebration of democracy. Pro-government voters and candidates alike have continuously reiterated that while it is an inalienable right to boycott elections, this however does not affect the inalienable right to vote itself, and that the legitimacy of the elections still stand.
The newly-established National Election Commission yesterday disqualified 40 candidates including several former MPs over a variety of reasons – mainly over not keeping good conduct – but many of them said they will challenge the decision in court and were confident they will nullify the decisions. The commission, established by an Amiri decree last month, comprises nine top judges and is independent. Its decisions cannot be appealed but can be challenged in the administrative court. Prominent among those disqualified are former MPs Youssef Al- Zalzalah, Saleh Ashour, Khalaf Dumaitheer, Askar Al-Enezi, Khaled Al- Adwah, Saadoun Hammad and Mubarak Al-Khrainej, all of whom were incidentally questioned over allegations that they received millions of dinars in illegal deposits into their bank accounts.