KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait is staging its seventh general election in just over 10 years on Tuesday as the oil-rich Gulf state remains mired in a political impasse undermining hopes of economic reform.
Fearing that widespread scepticism will discourage many people from voting, the authorities have festooned the capital with posters in an attempt to encourage a better turnout.
The latest general election was called by the emir last month after he again dissolved parliament amid a persistent deadlock with the executive branch that has stalled reforms.
Kuwait adopted a parliamentary system in 1962 but repeated political crises over the past years have resulted in state paralysis.
Instability dashes hopes for economic diversification
The emirate suffers from constant stand-offs between elected lawmakers and cabinets installed by the reigning Al-Sabah family, which maintains a firm grip on political life.
“We have to wake up and face up to this great frustration,” activist and university professor Sheikha al-Jassem told AFP of the political crisis.
One of the world’s largest producers of crude oil, Kuwait is the only Gulf Arab state to have an elected parliament with powers to hold the government to account.
On April 9, its seventh new government in three years was announced after the previous cabinet resigned in January only three months after taking office.
Just over a week later, the ruling family dissolved parliament and called a new general election.
The emir, 85-year-old Nawaf al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, has stepped back from political life in favour of the crown prince, 82-year-old Meshal al-Ahmad al-Jaber Al-Sabah.
MPs and civil society in Kuwait regularly take the authorities to task, but the Al-Sabahs keep a tight hold on ministerial portfolios, reserving key posts for the family.
In March, the constitutional court nullified the results of legislative elections held last year — in which the opposition won the most seats — and ruled that the previous parliament elected in 2020 be reinstated instead.
Published in Dawn, June 5th, 2023