Kuwaiti voters take to polls in 7th election in over a decade

Kuwaiti citizens have begun to vote in their seventh legislative election in just over a decade, as a result of ongoing political crises that have hampered parliamentary proceedings and hindered reform initiatives.

Polling commenced at 8am (05:00 GMT) on Tuesday and will carry on until 8pm (17:00 GMT). The official Kuwait News Agency confirmed that the results are set to be announced on Wednesday. Over 793,000 eligible voters are anticipated to contribute to the shaping of the 50-seat legislature. Notably, Kuwait is the only Gulf Arab state to have an elected parliament with the power to hold the government accountable.

A total of 207 candidates are vying for a four-year term as lawmakers, marking the smallest number in a general election since 1996. The roster includes members of the opposition and 13 women.

Kuwait’s emir, Nawaf al-Ahmad Al-Sabah, called the election last month after yet another dissolution of parliament amid a persisting political deadlock.

Frequent conflicts between different branches of the government have obstructed lawmakers from passing crucial economic reforms. Recurrent budget deficits, low foreign investment, and disputes over a contentious bill regarding government takeover of Kuwaiti citizens’ consumer and personal loans have further fuelled a sense of despondency.

The consistent discord between elected lawmakers and an appointed cabinet has led to a deterioration of social services, including healthcare and education. This lack of stability has also deterred investors from Kuwait’s petroleum industry, which holds seven percent of the world’s crude reserves.

In spite of widespread disillusionment with the political elite, human rights activist Hadeel Buqrais highlighted the importance of participating in the election. Although Kuwait’s cabinet members are appointed by the ruling Al-Sabah family, which maintains a firm control over political affairs, lawmakers are elected by the people.

In an interesting turn of events, the constitutional court in March nullified the results of last year’s elections, where the opposition had made considerable strides. The court ruled that the previous parliament elected in 2020 should be reinstated instead.

Since the implementation of a parliamentary system in Kuwait in 1962, the legislature has been dissolved approximately a dozen times.

Image Credit: AP Photo/Jaber Abdulkhaleg

Tags : Kuwait