Kuwaitis choose new parliament once again

None of the six parliaments ran out its term and they were all dissolved either through Emiri decrees following political disputes

Image Credit: AFP
Kuwaiti attend a campaign meeting for Islamist candidate and former MP Mohammed al-Mutair in Kuwait City on November 20, 2016. / AFP / Yasser Al-Zayyat
Gulf News

Manama: Kuwaitis head to the polls on Saturday to elect their new lawmakers for the next four years amid hopes for an end to the turbulent political decade that saw Kuwaitis cast their ballots for parliament six times since 2006.

None of the six parliaments ran out its term and they were all dissolved either through Emiri decrees following political disputes or decisions from the Constitutional Court resulting from constitutional flaws.

The 483,200 voters, all aged at least 21 years old, will elect 50 from the 293 candidates who had successfully signed up to run in the elections, 10 from each of the five electoral districts making up the country.

To be able to cast their ballots, Kuwaitis have to present their original citizenship cards to be stamped by the judge. Those who lost their cards could obtain a one-day card that could be used only at a polling station, the interior ministry said.

Women make up 52.31 per cent of the voters, but the chances of the 13 women running for seats remain slim with the return of several opposition figures who boycotted the last elections in July 2013 and the decision of more than 75 former MPs from the previous parliaments to seek re-election.

Candidates during their campaigning focused overwhelmingly on domestic issues and many of them drew heavy fire on the outgoing parliament, accusing it of failing to protect the people from the cuts in subsidies and of not resisting the decision to hike the prices of oil.

Substantial solutions to the financial and security issues challenging Kuwait and the region were rarely suggested in the mainly populist speeches given by the candidates.

The fourth and fifth districts will be the most watched during the one-day polls due to the tense competition.

The fourth district has 127,408 voters, and 68 candidates who include eight members of the parliament dissolved last month and eight former lawmakers from the oppsoition- three Islamists and five nationalists.

The fifth district has the highest number of voters at 135,512 and of candidates at 69, including seven from the outgoing parliament and six, all opposition figures, from previous legislative assemblies.

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