Kuwaiti figures affiliated with the opposition won the majority of the seats in the National Assembly, according to the results of the elections, Wednesday, while one woman won a seat in Parliament, which often witnesses disputes between deputies and the government.
The opposition in Kuwait consists of Islamists and independent political figures far from the ruling family, who are calling for political and economic reforms in the oil-producing country. They often run without specific electoral programmes.
On Tuesday, the seventh legislative elections were held in the country since 2012, after the Constitutional Court annulled in March the results of last year’s elections, in which the opposition made significant gains due to “fallacies” that marred the call for their convening.
The country, located near Iran and Iraq, is shaken by frequent political crises, related to the government, figures from the ruling family, and the parliament, which has been dissolved several times. The reason is often the demand of deputies to hold ministers from the princely family accountable over issues including corruption.
According to the official results, opposition representatives won 29 seats out of 50, while only one woman, Janan Bushehri, was elected. Hence, the new parliament is very similar to the one that was dissolved and was also dominated by the opposition, with 38 out of its 50 members retaining their seats.
This was the second time that the opposition, demanding political and economic reforms, participated in the electoral process since it ended its boycott of the legislative elections in 2022.
The former Speakers of the House of Representatives, Marzouq Al-Ghanim and Ahmed Al-Saadoun, returned to Parliament. It is expected that Al-Saadoun will run for the position of Speaker of the House of Representatives again.
“Today we celebrate the reformist approach, and the results of the elections are an indication of the awareness of the Kuwaiti people,” said MP Adel Al-Damkhi, who is affiliated with the opposition, immediately after the results were announced, adding, “We have a reformist majority.”
Move stuck files
More than 793,000 voters were invited to the polls to choose 50 deputies for a four-year term, in a country that enjoys an active political life, and its parliament enjoys wide legislative powers, and often witnesses fierce debates, unlike other countries in the region.
Turnout reached 50 percent an hour before polls closed, according to the Kuwaiti Transparency Society, a local non-governmental organization.
Fearing a large abstention from participating in the polls, the authorities posted large banners in the streets of the capital calling on citizens to vote massively in the second elections in two years.
Since Kuwait adopted a parliamentary system in 1962, the Legislative Council has been dissolved about a dozen times. While deputies are elected, Kuwaiti government ministers are appointed by the ruling Al Sabah family, which maintains a firm grip on political life.
In early April, a new government, the seventh in three years, saw the light, less than four months after the previous government resigned following a political crisis with Parliament.
However, a few days later, the Emir of Kuwait dissolved parliament and called for new legislative elections after the judicial authorities nullified the results of the legislative elections that took place last year and were won by the opposition.
Political instability in Kuwait has dampened the appetite of investors, in a country that is one of the largest oil exporters in the world.
The confrontation between the executive authority and parliament has impeded the reforms needed by the Kuwaiti economy that wants to diversify its resources, a situation that contrasts with the neighbors, the other five members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, who are pursuing projects to diversify their economies and attract foreign investors.
Bushehri told AFP that the goals of the next parliament are “to seek stability and move the outstanding issues, whether political or economic.”