Kuwait approves decree curbing popular vote

  • Share via facebook
  • Tweet this
  • Bookmark and Share
(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

Kuwait's parliament on Tuesday approved a royal decree amending voting rules that sparked mass protests and an opposition boycott of elections last month in the US-allied Gulf Arab country, the official news agency KUNA said.

The emergency decree issued by Kuwait's emir in October - a week after he dissolved parliament - reduced the number of votes per citizen to one from four.

While the government said these changes bring Kuwait into line with democratic norms elsewhere, the opposition, which includes Islamist, liberal and leftist politicians, said their aim was to skew polls in favour of pro-government candidates.

Parliament's decision to ratify the decree may help deflect any legal challenge to the election and lends the measure political and legal weight ahead of hearings before Kuwait's constitutional court in the coming months.

"The approval was expected since this parliament was elected on the back of this decree," said Ghanim al-Najjar, professor of political science at Kuwait University. "What we really need to watch is what will happen at the constitutional court."

The court will consider several legal complaints related to the elections, including whether there was a need for the emir to issue the decree changing the election law.

Under the former voting system, citizens could select four candidates using four votes of equal weight, which meant candidates could call on supporters to cast their additional ballots for allies in the 50-seat legislature.

The opposition held a majority in the last assembly elected in February and raised pressure on the cabinet, forcing two ministers to quit the body, which is dominated by the Al Sabah royal family that has ruled Kuwait for 250 years.

Kuwait has the most open political system among the Gulf Arab states. Parliament has legislative powers and the right to question ministers. But the emir, head of the Al-Sabah family, appoints the prime minister, who chooses the cabinet.

The government says opposition lawmakers have used parliament to settle scores rather than pass laws to develop the economy. Opposition politicians accuse the government of mismanagement and have called for an elected cabinet.

Parliament also approved a decree issued by the emir that bans the incitement of sectarian or tribal hatred in Kuwait, imposing lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines.

Related:
Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

  • No comments yet, be the first!

Enter the words above: Enter the numbers you hear:

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
Is this the end of the Gulf’s Indian cash dash?

Is this the end of the Gulf’s Indian cash dash?

From currency woes to taxation loopholes closing and a clampdown...

2
Q&A with Dubai Chamber

Q&A with Dubai Chamber

We spoke with Essa Al Zaabi of Dubai Chamber of Commerce to find...

The politics of big data

The politics of big data

The UAE may be one of the fastest adopters of e-government initiatives...

Most Discussed
  • 22
    World's most pierced man refused entry to the UAE

    Its quite hypocritical & childish that most people use their children as excuses to persecute their views unto others. Were all of you as innocent when... more

    Wednesday, 20 August 2014 9:03 AM - Calvin Pinto
  • 13
    Baby NOT on board?

    I am sure the Writer of this article as well as some of the guys who commented would have been the best behaved kids in their times; never ran around... more

    Wednesday, 20 August 2014 4:44 PM - Wildwine
  • 5
    CEO of Just Falafel to step down

    Every word mentioned above by Omar is 100% true. I have been closely watching and analyzing JF and I am wondering at their strategy, speed of growth and... more

    Wednesday, 20 August 2014 8:24 PM - Ivar