Kuwaitis were casting ballots Thursday in a snap vote to elect the fourth parliament in less than six years, with unofficial polls showing the Islamist-led opposition in the lead. The vote in the wealthy Gulf state, which follows a campaign marred by violence, seeks to end political disputes that have hurt the country for years. Female voters, dressed in clothes ranging from black traditional abayas to casual Western-style jeans, lined up in short queues in voting stations set up for women, as lines of men formed at separate polling booths. Women voters make up 54 percent of the electorate and 23 women are among 286 candidates running for the 50-seat legislative body.
Pollsters and analysts expect the 400,000 electorate to deliver a resounding victory for the Islamist-led opposition which has campaigned vehemently for fundamental reforms and against corruption. The snap poll is taking place after Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah dissolved parliament in OPEC’s third largest producer following unprecedented protests led by youths inspired by the Arab Spring.
The protests led to the resignation of the previous government and former prime minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad Al-Sabah who was replaced by another senior royal, in a move unprecedented in the oil-rich emirate.
The elections are being held against a backdrop of heightened sectarian and tribal tensions which this week erupted into violence.