Elections in Kuwait
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Elections in Kuwait are held for both the National Assembly and for the Municipality. Kuwait's constitution calls for elections to the unicameral National Assembly at a maximum interval of four years. Elections are held earlier if the Constitutional Court or Emir dissolve the parliament.
Kuwait was divided into ten districts in the National Assembly elections between 1963 and 1975. Each district elected five deputies to the Assembly. Before the 1981 elections the government redistricted Kuwait, creating a system of 25 districts. Following the redistricting, fewer Shi'ite candidates won seats in the Assembly. This was a deliberate result of the redistricting, and it followed the 1979 Revolution in Iran. Each of the 25 districts elected two members to the National Assembly, for a total of 50 elected members (additional members sit as appointed members of the cabinet). Each voter could cast ballots for two candidates, though it was also possible to vote for only one candidate. In each district the candidates who won the largest and second largest number of votes earned seats in the National Assembly.
Political groups and parliamentary voting blocs exist, although most candidates run as independents. Once elected, many deputies form voting blocs in the National Assembly. Kuwaiti law does not recognize political parties. However, numerous political groups function as de facto political parties in elections, and there are blocs in the parliament. Major de facto political parties include: National Democratic Alliance, Popular Action Bloc, Hadas (Kuwaiti Muslim Brotherhood), National Islamic Alliance and Justice and Peace Alliance.
The earliest modern elections in Kuwait were held in 1921. Elections were held again in June and then in December 1938 for a majlis al-tashri'i, or Legislative Council. The ruling family dissolved the second Council in 1939. Following independence in 1961 elections were held in 1962 to elect 20 members to the constitutional convention.
Elections were held in July 27, 2013. Voter turnout was an estimated 52.5%, which was higher than expected despite an opposition boycott, the voter turnout was only 7% lower than the turnout of the non-boycotted February 2012 elections (59%). Liberals were the biggest winners of the election.
According to the Associated Press, liberal lawmakers gained at least six seats. The Congressional Research Service reported that liberals won 9 seats, making them the largest political bloc in the parliament after pro-government Independents. Fox News reported that the tribal bloc won at least 10 seats in the 50-member parliament. Two women were elected. Sunni Islamists won 3 seats. There are 10 Shia MPs.
Kuwait has universal adult suffrage for Kuwaiti citizens who are 21 or older. The constitution bars members of the ruling family from running for election to the National Assembly, though the constitution does not explicitly prohibit these members of the ruling family from casting votes.
The franchise was expanded to include women in 2005. When voting was first introduced in Kuwait in 1985, Kuwaiti women had the right to vote. This right was later removed. In 2005, Kuwaiti women were re-granted the right to vote.
Kuwait's citizenship law, in theory, gives citizenship to those who descend, in the male line, from residents of Kuwait in 1920.
- Suliman Al-Atiqi (September 12, 2013). "One Man, One Vote". Carnegie Endowment.
As a result, the divided members of the opposition rendered themselves obsolete as the country witnessed a 52.5 percent voter turnout in the July 2013 election—up from the boycotted 40 percent, and 7.5 percentage points shy of the last non-boycotted election.
- "Associated Press". Associated Press. July 28, 2013.
Liberal lawmakers seeking greater social and political freedoms gained at least six seats, the results showed.
- "Kuwait: Security, Reform, and U.S. Policy" (PDF). Congressional Research Service. August 30, 2013. p. 10.
- "Fox News". Fox News. July 28, 2013.
- Sectarianism and authoritarianism in Kuwait
- "Kuwait Politics Database" (in Arabic).
- Apollo Rwomire (2001). African Women and Children: Crisis and Response. p. 8.