Manama: An unexpectedly high number of candidates have registered for Kuwait’s parliamentary elections next month despite the opposition’s push for a boycott on the grounds that the vote does not reflect the nation’s will.
Officials said that 397 people, including 15 women, have signed up during the ten-day registration process to contest the December 1 elections.
The Fourth Constituency tops the list with 101 candidates, followed by the Fifth Constituency with 97 hopefuls. The Third Constituency accounts for 71 candidates, the Second Constituency 67 and the First Constituency 61.
The registration process started slowly, but ended on a high note with 163 candidates registering during the final days.
The 2009 elections had drawn a total of 282 candidates including 19 women, a marked reduction from 380 in 2008 — a figure that included 28 women.
The list of candidates will be formally scrutinised within days to check the eligibility of the applicants, officials said.
The surge in the candidate numbers was hailed by those who supported the call for the elections as a vindication of recent electoral reforms.
The opposition has been pushing for an election boycott to protest against the amendment of the 2006 electoral law that allows people to cast their votes for a single candidate as gainst four earlier. The government holds the view that the amendment would ensure a fair representation of the people and bring the Kuwaiti elections in line with the international ‘one voter, one vote’ standard.
However, the opposition has protested that the amendment is meant to curtail its influence by ushering in a parliament that answers to the ruling family.
Prominent opposition figures launched a campaign calling for the boycott of the elections by stepping up street protests.
However, the Emir Shaikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah held a series of meetings with representatives of different segments of Kuwaiti society and reassured them that the amendment would stand and that the elections would be held on time. He also stressed that the parliament would not be dissolved and that it would complete its four-year term.
Shaikh Sabah was responding to claims by the opposition that its boycott would bring about a weak parliament which would ultimately be dismissed for not representing the nation.
Kuwait has been wracked by a series of political and constitutional crises pitting the parliament against the government in recent times.