Kuwaiti candidate and former parliament speaker Marzouq Al Ghanim celebrates with his supporters following the announcement of his victory in legislative elections, in Kuwait city, on early June 7, 2023. Image Credit: AFP

KUWAIT CITY: Opposition lawmakers won a majority in Kuwait’s parliament in the Gulf state’s seventh general election in just over a decade, with only one woman voted into office, according to results announced on Wednesday.

The vote on Tuesday came after Kuwait’s constitutional court in March annulled the results of last year’s election - in which the opposition made significant gains - and reinstated the previous parliament elected in 2020.

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Opposition lawmakers won 29 of the legislature’s 50 seats, according to results published by the official Kuwait News Agency. Only one woman was elected - opposition candidate Janan Bushehri.

The make-up of the new parliament is very similar to the one elected last year and later annulled, with all but 12 of its 50 members retaining their seats.

Longtime speaker Marzouq Al Ghanim and Ahmad Al Saadoun, who replaced him last year, both return to parliament. Al Saadoun is expected to run again for the post of speaker.

50% turnout

“We are celebrating today the (victory of the) reformist approach,” opposition lawmaker Adel Al Damkhi told reporters after the results were announced.

“The election results are an indication of the awareness of the Kuwaiti people.”

Turnout reached 50 per cent one hour before polls closed, according to the Kuwait Transparency Society, an NGO. Last year’s election saw turnout of 63 per cent.

Since Kuwait adopted a parliamentary system in 1962, the legislature has been dissolved around a dozen times.

While lawmakers are elected, Kuwait’s cabinet ministers are installed by the ruling Al Sabah family.

Continual standoffs between the branches of government have prevented lawmakers from passing economic reforms, while repeated budget deficits and low foreign investment have added to an air of gloom.

Speaking to AFP on Tuesday, Bushehri, the new parliament’s only female member, said she expected it “to seek stability and move ahead on outstanding issues, whether political or economic”.