Big gains for opposition in Kuwait parliament polls

Published December 7, 2020
Kuwaiti men open ballots to start the counting at a polling station during parliamentary elections in Kuwait City, Kuwait on Dec 5. — Reuters
Kuwaiti men open ballots to start the counting at a polling station during parliamentary elections in Kuwait City, Kuwait on Dec 5. — Reuters

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait’s opposition took nearly half of parliament’s seats in weekend polls amid calls for reforms over corruption and high debt, but the sole woman lawmaker lost her seat.

Twenty-four of the National Assembly’s 50 seats were won by candidates belonging to or leaning towards the opposition, up from 16 in the last parliament, according to results announced on Sunday.

But while 29 women ran for office in Saturday’s race, none were elected — a blow to the status of women who have fought hard over recent years for more representation in the oil-rich emirate, after winning the right to vote just 15 years ago.

Nevertheless, the election of 30 candidates under the age of 45 sent out a promising signal to youth hoping for change and reform.

The election, which takes place every four years, was overshadowed by Covid-19 and a consequent paring back of campaigns that in normal times draw thousands for lavish banquets and over-the-top events.

Five polling stations — one in each electoral district — were specially fitted out to allow citizens infected with coronavirus to cast their votes.

The polls were the first since the new emir, Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, took office in September following the death of his half-brother, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, at the age of 91.

The country has the Gulf’s oldest elected parliament, but under the constitution the emir has extensive powers and can dissolve the legislature at the recommendation of the government.

Thirty-one new faces would enter the new parliament, results showed.

The Muslim Brotherhood-linked Islamic Constitutional Movement (ICM) won three seats, while candidates from Shia community won six.

“There is a big change in the composition of the new National Assembly,” Kuwait analyst Ayed al-Manaa said. “This is an indication of the voters’ anger over the performance of the previous parliament and of their desire for change in economic, health, education” and services, he said.

Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2020

Opinion

Editorial

Beyond the pale
Updated 09 Aug, 2022

Beyond the pale

When such ugliness is unleashed, everyone at some point suffers the fallout.
Burying Gaza
Updated 10 Aug, 2022

Burying Gaza

One fails to understand how the senseless killing of a child can be brushed so coldly under the carpet.
Celebrate the athlete
09 Aug, 2022

Celebrate the athlete

TALK about delivering on your promise: javelin thrower Arshad Nadeem did that in the grandest style at the...
An unseemly dispute
08 Aug, 2022

An unseemly dispute

THERE is clarity, but perhaps not of the kind that Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial hoped to achieve when...
Unfair on taxpayers
Updated 08 Aug, 2022

Unfair on taxpayers

Unfair move has drawn valid criticism as it coincides with drastic increase in income tax on salaried people and corporates.
Polio nightmare
08 Aug, 2022

Polio nightmare

AS if the resurgence of polio in southern KP were not enough, officials and international monitoring bodies must now...