Kuwaiti election flips power in parliament

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Sunni Islamists doubled their seats in the Kuwaiti National Assembly at an election on Saturday, while the Shiite proportion was cut by more than half.

The snap election, called after the December poll was declared null and void, has dramatically turned the table in the 50-seat Kuwaiti parliament from being Shiite-dominated to far more broad.

With a small number of votes yet to be counted, Shiites looked like winning eight seats, down from 17 in the scrapped assembly.

Sunni Islamists doubled their seats from five to ten, while the more conservative Islamists, Salafists, maintained their two seats.

Small tribes usually marginalised were the big winners. A huge boost in voter turnout from regional areas saw tribes such as Sulaibi, Suhool, Oteibis and Enezi gain power, according to Kuwait Times. Liberals also won three seats.

Majority of the former opposition party, which boycotted the December poll, maintained their boycott on Saturday. However, several who did participate won seats, including Abdullah Al-Turaiji and Riyadh Al-Adasani.

About 60 percent of constituents voted, an increase of about 20 percent, according to Kuwait Times. Much of the increase came from tribal areas.

The higher turnout was surprising amid the fasting month of Ramadan and calls by the opposition to boycott the poll.

The election was Kuwait's sixth since 2006, with a series of assemblies being dissolved over varying constitutional arguments.

The 2009 assembly was first dissolved in December 2011 following street protests led by the opposition.

A new election was held in February the following year but nullified on June 20, 2012, meaning the 2009 assembly was reinstated, only to be nullified again less than four months later.

The Constitutional Court also last month upheld a change that moves the country to a one-vote system, which is controversial among opposition supporters who claim it disadvantages them.

Kuwait has the most open political system in the Gulf, with its 50-member elected assembly having the power to pass legislation and question ministers. However, ultimate authority is with the 84-year old hereditary emir who selects the prime minister who in turn appoints a cabinet. Top portfolios are traditionally held by members of the 250-year old Al-Sabah dynasty.

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Posted by: Abdullah

A few years ago before the Kuwaiti women had the right to vote, a Kuwaiti told me a story of how he voted for the candidate in his district that was campaigning for women to have the right to vote. He won his vote, but apparently, the candidate changed his position and voted against the women having the right to vote which upset him. So one day, he was at the ministry and saw this MP so he decided to confront him. He asked him why he changed his position on this matter and then he noticed that he held a mountain of ministry paperwork for constituents. MP's should not be running around ministries doing constituent's paperwork as paybacks, they should be in Parliament voting on how they can improve the ministry process.

Posted by: Bader

Thanks RAH for the fair and balanced comment.

Posted by: Ahmed

It was more like 'Here we go again!" as the sixth Parliament in seven years was elected in this GCC nation yesterday. Apart from the sectarian accomplishments outlined in this article, I noticed women did not command any seats in Parliament, so that means women?s and children?s issues will be put on the back burners. I also see that the Islamic movement only commanded two seats, so hopefully religious issues will take the back burner in a nation that really needs to focus on the development plan. Limiting the parliamentary abilities of these candidates would be advantageous, so that MP?s focus on critical issues and not catering to the individual needs of constituents might benefit the flow of sessions. If I was going to advise this nation, I would strongly suggest that they take the development plan out of Parliament in order to jump start the process and the primary focus of this new Parliament be on business, ministrial, and social issues facing this nation.

Posted by: Ahmed

@RAH - If we recall, when the Opposition/Salafists (Islamics) controlled the Parliament, all development projects were blocked due to their accusations that corruption was involved. What was highlighted also by viewers was the lack of qualifications these MP's held to even evaluate a development project, hence, the need to address the priorties in your Parliament which will move your country forward (The Development Plan). There is an obvious lack of patience in the region with Islamics running governments (ie Egypt) and now you see the Tunisian streets erupting, because Islamics place their priorities on religious matters, not economic issues. Watching the MB run Egypt was like waiting for an elephant to fly. They are unqualifed to run countries and the youth want stronger economies, not to have government impose restrictions on their personal lives. (ie: The secregation of colleges in Kuwait). Your MP's need to vote for the nation, not against economic stability (nation building).

Posted by: RAH

Actually, it's two women, 10 islamist and 2 hard-line islamist. Islamist have 12 seats but opposing views to different ministers is always an issue which means those 12 wont necessarily see eye to eye may not stick together when it comes to voting on passing new laws.

And btw, Islam is NOT the reason we are not focusing on imp issues. Kuwait is behind because of childish quibbles rather than religion and islamists.

And correction to article, which states: "The 2009 assembly was first dissolved in December 2011? A new election was held in February the following year but nullified? the 2009 assembly was reinstated, only to be nullified again less than four months later."
It wasnt nullified again after 4 months. It was dissolved by the Amir after the MPs refused to attend any sessions (boycotting it) leaving the Amir with no choice but to DISSOLVE the 2009 Assembly and call for fresh elections.
Wish writers would read more about Kuwait before typing such inaccurate/misleading accounts.

Posted by: Ahmed

I stand corrected, according to other news sources, two women did win seats in Parliament. Congratulations to them!

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