Dr. Obaid Al Wasmi, a prominent opposition figure, received an unprecedented number of votes in the fifth electoral district’s parliamentary by-election to solidify him as the 50th member of parliament. Image Credit: GN Archive

Kuwait City: On Saturday, Dr. Obaid Al Wasmi, a prominent opposition figure and a professor of law, received a total of 43,810 votes - an unprecedented number - in the fifth electoral district’s parliamentary by-election, thus solidifying him as the 50th member of parliament (MP).

15 candidates were running for a seat in Kuwait’s National Assembly (parliament), after former MP Bader Al Dahoum’s membership was revoked two months ago, leaving a vacant seat.

Not only did Al Wasmi win by a landslide, gaining around 95 per cent of the votes, he also received the highest number of votes in the history of Kuwait’s parliamentary elections.

During his celebratory speech at Al Dahoum’s diwaniya, Al Wasmi said, “this exceptional political and social solidarity has transcended all historical efforts to bring together society on all fronts, from different classes to sects.”

Al Wasmi’s win was welcomed by many, as his name was trending on Twitter and several MPs congratulated him on his victory. Many MPs pointed out that his win is a clear message from the Kuwaiti people, as well as a win for the opposition.

The Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmed Al Sabah, and the Crown Prince, Sheikh Mishal Al Ahmed Al Sabah, both congratulated Al Wasmi on his win.

Strengthening opposition

This was the first election that Al Wasmi participated in in almost a decade, after he boycotted running or partaking in parliamentary elections as a protest against the 2012 Emiri decree that changed the electoral law from four votes to a single non-transferable vote system.

Al Wasmi’s return to the political field comes at a timely manner when tensions between the government and opposition figures are high. A political deadlock has been going on for the past two months after the parliament voted on postponing all past and future interrogations against Prime Minister, Sabah Al Khaled Al Sabah. The opposition has rejected the vote calling it unlawful and in breach of the constitution.

A staunch critic of the government, Al Wasmi is likely to boost the opposition’s stance and join in on the fight to interrogate the Prime Minister.

While Al Wasmi refrained from engaging in elections, he remained active in the Kuwaiti political scene. He also constantly shared his opinion on events that occurred, especially in the capacity of the law and the constitution.

Last year, shortly before Sheikh Nawaf Al Ahmed Al Sabah was appointed Emir, he met with Al Wasmi and Abdullah Al Nafisi, another prominent opposition figure. Al Wasmi and Al Nafisi presented the Emir with the ‘Kuwait Document’ which outlines demands that include: political reconciliation, forming a salvation government, reforming the judiciary, and hiring independent foreign agencies to help create a new electoral system.