Liberals win seats in Kuwait vote

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kuwait election 2013Liberals and candidates from some of Kuwait’s more marginalized tribes have won seats in a parliament which may prove more cooperative with the ruling family after opposition Islamists and populists boycotted the election.

Saturday’s ballot was the sixth since 2006 in the major oil producer, where political upheaval and bureaucracy have held up the vast majority of projects in a 30-billion-dinar ($105-billion) economic development plan announced in 2010.

Kuwait has the most open political system in the Gulf Arab region but parliaments have been repeatedly dissolved over procedural disputes or for challenging the government in which members of the ruling Al-Sabah family hold top posts.

“The large number of new MPs gives hope that a National Assembly with greater popular backing can find a way of improving relations with the government,” said Gulf expert Kristian Ulrichsen, at the U.S.-based Baker Institute for Public Policy, referring to a 12 percent higher turnout than last time.

“The increased turnout signals that many Kuwaitis are ready to put the recent past behind them and move forward,” Ulrichsen said.

In accordance with Kuwait’s legislation, the outgoing cabinet approved a draft decree inviting new lawmakers to hold their first parliamentary session on August 6, state news agency KUNA said.

The outgoing prime minister has also sent the government’s letter of resignation to the emir, as is the norm following a new parliamentary vote.

The turnout in searing heat and during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan was still lower than in several elections before 2012 when about 60 percent of voters cast ballots.

The U.S. ally has seen street protests in the past two years, including over changes to the voting procedures, but its generous welfare system and relative tolerance of dissent have helped to shield it from more serious Arab Spring-style unrest.

Voters also complained about a lack of development in Kuwait – one of the world’s richest countries per capita.

“The country is reeling from the deterioration of services and we need to treat the wounds to start a new phase with genuine cooperation between the two authorities,” new MP Issa al-Kandari said, referring to the government and parliament.

Newly-elected Kamel al-Awadi said he would “work on all projects that move the economy forward” including housing and infrastructure projects. Many of these were touted in the 2010 development plan and have not been delivered.

The mainly Islamist and populist opposition boycotted the poll in protest against a new voting system announced last year, which cut the number of votes per citizen to one from four. Opposition politicians said this would prevent them forming a majority in parliament.

Shi’ites – estimated at 20-30 percent of the population – won just eight seats in the 50-member parliament compared to 17 in the last election in December, after Sunnis in their districts ramped up a campaign to win seats.

Shi’ites – estimated at 20-30 percent of the population – won just eight seats in the 50-member parliament compared to 17 in the last election in December, after Sunnis in their districts ramped up a campaign to win seats.

Political parties are banned so candidates campaign independently or with links to political movements.

Before the election the ruling emir courted groups unhappy about the new voting system and encouraged several of the country’s socially conservative tribes to endorse the ballot.

The snap election was triggered by a ruling from the top court in June, which said the process leading up to the last one was legally flawed. The court also upheld the new voting system in a ruling which led to splits in the opposition.

Campaign themes have included fighting corruption, loan relief and concern over Kuwait’s $4 billion aid package to Egypt after the military overthrew Islamist President Mohamed Mursi.

Campaign themes have included fighting corruption, loan relief and concern over Kuwait’s $4 billion aid package to Egypt after the military overthrew Islamist President Mohamed Mursi.

Kuwait and other Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were glad to see Mursi deposed because they fear Islamist influence in their own dynastically ruled states.

About 52 percent of 439,715 eligible voters cast ballots, according to an initial Reuters calculation based on voting figures posted on an Information Ministry website.

This was higher than in December when about 40 percent of voters went to the polls during an opposition boycott. Turnout in previous elections had been about 60 percent.

The assembly can pass legislation and question ministers but the emir has the final say in state matters and can dissolve parliament. He picks a prime minister who selects a cabinet.

Reuters

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10 responses to “Liberals win seats in Kuwait vote”

  1. 5thDrawer Avatar
    5thDrawer

    There you go, Raaaaad … you boycott, you lose. :-)))

    1. The real lebanese Avatar
      The real lebanese

      We dont want 2008 to repeat itself again though. May be the start of another Civil War.

      1. 5thDrawer Avatar
        5thDrawer

        No. We don’t want that. But kissing ass all the time is not working to improve ANY of the situations which exist with no government functioning. Ignore them, and make Lebanon work without them. If they want to dictate and start killing Lebanese again, then everyone will KNOW for sure what they are about, at least …

        1. hameerlebanon Avatar
          hameerlebanon

          5th drawer, medical supplies are low CAN you help?

          1. 5thDrawer Avatar
            5thDrawer

            Hameer …. If you are asking me personally … I have. As others in here have I am sure. I know of the medical problems – AND the food and water. Beyond the tax-money that goes to refugees, after this too-long war-time, as only one person, I can’t do much more. I fear the fate of some I care about, and those are not even scrabbling in that pile of rubble which is Syria.
            I decry the ‘private-hospital’ system and it’s sectarian idiocies in Lebanon. But no-one can change the country and the way it (barely) works. It IS largely supported by what ‘they’ like to call ‘expatriates’, and many in here have noted that. We hate to see friends and relatives dying for lack of food and water … let alone impossible medical expenses. And because of the ‘SYSTEM’, the hospitals and the HARD-WORKING medical staff are being wrung dry. (Pay-Cuts to Surgeons?? YES. it has happened – by as much as 70%. I know.) I can’t even imagine one trying to work IN Syria – especially being a target because of being a doctor. There are MANY factors working against those who try to help.
            Perhaps you can’t imagine – on top of that – how HARD it is to send money, or even a package, to a place always considered ‘in war’ and especially with a bunch like Hezzbolla running it. The whole world (but especially New-York Banks) doesn’t want money going NEAR them – even if the piddly amount one might wish to send to an ailing or starving person wouldn’t buy an RPG, let alone pay all the drug-costs or time in hospital.
            We struggle … together, yet apart. I fear your name will hit a ‘list’ of suspicious characters because you talk to me, so be careful. But I am FREE!
            I would do more if I could – and HERE can put in a PLUG for ‘Doctors Without Borders – Medicines Sans Frontiers’ … and the Red Cross/Crescent which ATTEMPTS to keep up with the flowing blood.

            P.S. Imagine a ‘western’ doctor accepting a 70% cut in pay. Now imagine what is slowly beginning to happen to health-care in Lebanon.
            Where is all that ‘Eastern Aid’ money ???

  2. 5thDrawer Avatar
    5thDrawer

    There you go, Raaaaad … you boycott, you lose. :-)))

    1. The real lebanese Avatar
      The real lebanese

      We dont want 2008 to repeat itself again though. May be the start of another Civil War.

      1. 5thDrawer Avatar
        5thDrawer

        No. We don’t want that. But kissing ass all the time is not working to improve ANY of the situations which exist with no government functioning. Ignore them, and make Lebanon work without them. If they want to dictate and start killing Lebanese again, then everyone will KNOW for sure what they are about, at least …

        1. hameerlebanon Avatar
          hameerlebanon

          5th drawer, medical supplies are low CAN you help?

          1. 5thDrawer Avatar
            5thDrawer

            Hameer …. If you are asking me personally … I have. As others in here have I am sure. I know of the medical problems – AND the food and water. Beyond the tax-money that goes to refugees, after this too-long war-time, as only one person, I can’t do much more. I fear the fate of some I care about, and those are not even scrabbling in that pile of rubble which is Syria.
            I decry the ‘private-hospital’ system and it’s sectarian idiocies in Lebanon. But no-one can change the country and the way it (barely) works. It IS largely supported by what ‘they’ like to call ‘expatriates’, and many in here have noted that. We hate to see friends and relatives dying for lack of food and water … let alone impossible medical expenses. And because of the ‘SYSTEM’, the hospitals and the HARD-WORKING medical staff are being wrung dry. (Pay-Cuts to Surgeons?? YES. it has happened – by as much as 70%. I know.) I can’t even imagine one trying to work IN Syria – especially being a target because of being a doctor. There are MANY factors working against those who try to help.
            Perhaps you can’t imagine – on top of that – how HARD it is to send money, or even a package, to a place always considered ‘in war’ and especially with a bunch like Hezzbolla running it. The whole world (but especially New-York Banks) doesn’t want money going NEAR them – even if the piddly amount one might wish to send to an ailing or starving person wouldn’t buy an RPG, let alone pay all the drug-costs or time in hospital.
            We struggle … together, yet apart. I fear your name will hit a ‘list’ of suspicious characters because you talk to me, so be careful. But I am FREE!
            I would do more if I could – and HERE can put in a PLUG for ‘Doctors Without Borders – Medicines Sans Frontiers’ … and the Red Cross/Crescent which ATTEMPTS to keep up with the flowing blood.

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