Government of Kuwait

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This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Kuwait

The State of Kuwait is governed by the popularly-elected parliament and executive branch (government and Emir).

The Constitution of Kuwait, approved and promulgated in November 1962, calls for direct elections to a unicameral parliament (the National Assembly). Kuwait's judicial system is the most independent in the Gulf region and the Constitutional Court is widely believed to be one of the most judicially independent courts in the Arab world.[1]

Legislative branch (the Parliament)[edit]

The National Assembly (Kuwaiti parliament) has a significant role in the governance of Kuwait. The National Assembly has the power to enact and repeal public policy, create and repeal all legislation, remove ministers from their post and remove an Emir from his post. The National Assembly is the main legislative power in Kuwait.[2] For example, in May 1999, the Emir issued several milestone decrees. The National Assembly rejected all of these decrees.

The National Assembly (per article 4 of the Constitution) has the constitutional right to approve and disapprove of an Emir's appointment, therefore the National Assembly has the authority to remove an Emir from his post. The National Assembly effectively removed Saad al-Sabah from his post in 2006 because of Saad's inability to rule due to illness. Kuwait's National Assembly is the most independent parliament in the Arab world,[3] it ranks highly in comparison to other parliaments in the Middle East as a whole.[4]

The appointment of a new government requires the approval of the National Assembly. At least one member of the cabinet must be a deputy who won election to the National Assembly. The 1992 cabinet included six elected members of the National Assembly, the most of any cabinet in Kuwaiti history. The current cabinet has two elected members of the Assembly.

The appointment of a crown prince requires approval by an absolute majority of the members of the National Assembly parliament. If the new crown prince fails to win approval from the National Assembly, the Emir submits the names of three eligible members of the family to the National Assembly, and the National Assembly selects one to be the crown prince.

The National Assembly can have up to 65 deputies. Fifty deputies are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms. Members of the cabinet also sit in the parliament as deputies. The constitution limits the size of the cabinet to 16, and at least one member of the cabinet must be an elected MP.

The cabinet ministers have the same rights as the elected MPs, with the following two exceptions: they do not participate in the work of committees, and they cannot vote when an interpolation leads to a no-confidence vote against one of the cabinet members. MPs frequently exercise their constitutional right to question cabinet members. The National Assembly's interrogation sessions of cabinet ministers are aired on Kuwaiti TV. The appointment of a new prime minister requires the approval of the National Assembly. MPs also have the right to question the prime minister, and then table a motion of non-cooperation with the government, in which case the cabinet must get replaced.

The Constitutional Court and Emir both have the authority to dissolve the house and must subsequently call for new elections within two months. The Constitutional Court is judicially independent and is widely believed to be one of the most judicially independent courts in the Arab world.[1] The Constitutional Court has dissolved the house several times, most recently in 2013. The Emir has dissolved the house on five separate occasions.

Executive branch[edit]

Government[edit]

Main article: Cabinet of Kuwait

The appointment of a new prime minister requires the approval of the National Assembly. A new government requires a positive vote of confidence from the National Assembly. The appointment of a new government requires the approval of an absolute majority of MPs in the National Assembly parliament.

At least one member of the cabinet must be a deputy who won election to the National Assembly. The 1992 cabinet included six elected members of the National Assembly, the most of any cabinet in Kuwaiti history. The current cabinet has two elected members of the Assembly.

All members of the cabinet hold seats in the National Assembly. The size of the cabinet is limited to one-third the number of elected deputies of the National Assembly - that is, sixteen.

Emir[edit]

The Emir's powers are defined by the 1961 constitution. These powers include appointing the prime minister, however the appointment of a new prime minister requires the approval of the parliament. The crown prince must be approved by an absolute majority of the members of the National Assembly parliament. If the new crown prince fails to win approval from the National Assembly, the Emir submits the names of three eligible members of the family to the National Assembly, and the National Assembly selects one to be the crown prince. Upon the death of the Emir, the crown prince succeeds.

Parliament removes Emir[edit]

In January 2006, the Kuwaiti parliament voted to remove the ailing Emir Saad al-Sabah from power. He was Emir only briefly, after the death of Emir Jaber al Ahmed al Sabah on January 15, 2006.

The cabinet nominated the previous prime minister, Sabah al-Ahmad Al Sabah, to be elected Emir. He won the majority of the votes in the parliament and then became the 15th Emir of the state.

Elections[edit]

The constitution calls for new elections to be held at a maximum interval of four years (or earlier if the parliament is dissolved). Kuwait has universal adult suffrage for Kuwaiti citizens who are 21 or older. The franchise was expanded to include women in May 2005. In 1996 naturalized citizens were given the right to vote, but only after they had been naturalized for at least 30 years.

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.

Judicial branch[edit]

The judiciary in Kuwait is a relatively independent body. In each administrative district of Kuwait there is a Summary Court (also called Courts of First Instance which are composed of one or more divisions, like a Traffic Court or an Administrative Court); then there is Court of Appeals; Cassation Court and lastly - a Constitutional Court which interprets the constitution and deals with disputes related to the constitutionality of laws. Kuwait has a civil law legal system.

See also[edit]

References[edit]