Politics of Kuwait: Wikis


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Kuwait's government is a constitutional monarchy.



The National Constitution was ratified in 1962 and has elements of a presidential and a parliamentary system of government. The Amir is the head of State and has the power to appoint the Prime Minister, dissolve the Parliament and even suspend certain parts of the Constitution.

The Constitution expressly supports political organizations, but they remain illegal as no law has arisen to define and regulate them. MP's tend to serve as Independents or as members of some loose affiliation or faction based on philosophy, sect, class or clan.

Citizens who have reached the age of 21 years, are not in the military and have not been convicted of a crime, generally can vote. Parliamentary candidates must be eligible to vote and at least 30 years old.


The Parliament consists of fifty members who are elected in districts using the first past the post voting method. The major factions, de facto parties, are as follows [1];

  • National Democratic Alliance - Progressive or neoliberal faction. Has its own TV channel, Nabeeha Tahalof, and publishes the daily newspaper Al-Jarida.
  • Hadas - Sunni Islamic fundamentalists. Commonly known as the Islamic Constitutional Movement and has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. The Islamic Salafi is another Sunni fundamentalist faction.
  • National Islamic Alliance - Shia Islamic fundamentalists.
  • Popular Action Bloc - Shia Populists. Tend to focus on a few issues, i.e. funding for housing.
  • Justice and Peace - Shia moderates.
  • Ummah Party - Islamic fundamentalist party that wants to revise the Constitution.
  • Independents - No affiliation and tend to be supportive of the royal family.

National Issues

Two contentious issues, leading to six different elections between 1991 - 2008, involve issues pertaining to the electoral process and involvement of the royal family in the government [2].

Accusations have been mounted that the government has fixed elections and that corrupt candidates, with friendly ties to the royal family, buy their way into the parliament. The exclusion of women from the electoral process, prior to 2005, the minimum voting age of 21 and the fact that parties are still illegal, are also frequent points of contention [3]

The Prime Minister is typically royal blood and the Amir is the head of State. The more liberal MPs generally distrust the political power of the royalty, where as the Independents and Islamists tend to see the royalty as a source of tradition, order and clan allegiance [4].

The Constitution does not allow the parliament to dismiss the Prime Minister, at least not directly, but does allow them to issue an indirect no-confidence vote and call the Prime Minister to hear and have to answer to public criticism of his policies [5]. Such things would be illegal in other Gulf States and are seen, by the more conservative-traditionalist factions, as being beyond the pale [6].

It is possible that the future government will either not have anyone from the royal family in it or that the Prime Minister will be the likely future king.

2003 Election

In the 2003, the liberals faction lost most of its seats to the more traditionalist-conservative faction. The election results were a surprise, but the defeat may have due to the liberals initial support of the United States War on Terrorism, pushing for female suffrage and the reduction in the royal families power [[7].

2006 Election

An early election was called in 2006 as disputes over the redistricting of legislative districts and dislike of the Prime Minister, led to the parliament being dissolved and new elections being called [8]. This was also the first Kuwaiti election were women were allowed to vote and seek public office.

The results were another victory for the traditionalist-conservative faction. Sunni Islamicists won 21 seats, while the the neoliberal National Action Bloc won only 7 seats. Most of the 13 Independents who won, were expected to side with the royal family and the remaining seats were given to a Shiite populist faction [9].

2008 Elections

Protests over the election law, lead to another early election being called in 2007. Along with charges of electoral fraud, concerns about high inflation was also a major campaign issue. This time the Sunni Islamicists gained four seats, the Shitte populists gained no seats, the Neoliberals lost a seat and the Independents lost three seats [10]. The ongoing protests over election laws and the power of the royal family led to another early election.

2009 Elections

The Independents, who tend to support the royal family, won 21 seats. The Sunni Islamists won 13 seats, the Neoliberals won six seats, the Shiite populists won 3 seats and Shiite Islamists won 6 seats [11]. For the first time in Kuwaiti history, four of the elected officials were women.

Human Rights

External links



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