National Assembly (Kuwait)

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National Assembly
11th Session
Coat of arms or logo
Founded 1963
Seats 50
Last election
27 July 2013
Meeting place
2005-04-27 Koweït 003.jpg
Kuwait City
Coat of arms of Kuwait.svg
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The National Assembly, known as the Majlis Al-Umma ("House of the Nation") (Arabic: مجلس الأمة‎), is the legislature of Kuwait. The current speaker of the house is Marzouq Al-Ghanim. The Constitutional Court constitutionally dissolved the house in June 2013, subsequently issuing a decree for new elections.


Until 2004, suffrage was limited to male Kuwaiti citizens above the age of 21 whose ancestors had resided in Kuwait since 1920, and adult males who have been naturalized citizens for at least 20 years. In 2005, the house passed a law in support of women's suffrage, allowing women to vote and run for office.

The fifty-seat house is elected every four years. Currently there are five geographically distributed electoral districts. Every eligible citizen is entitled to one vote. The ten candidates with the most votes in each district win seats. Cabinet ministers (including the prime minister) are granted automatic membership in the Assembly, which increases the number of members in the house from fifty to sixty-six. 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.[1]


The parliament building was designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, who also designed Sydney Opera House.[2]

Political factions[edit]

While political parties are not legally recognized in Kuwait, a number of political factions exist. The house is composed of different unofficial political factions in addition to independents:

  • The liberal, secular bloc: Ten members were elected in the 2013 elections, making them the largest political bloc in the current parliament.
  • The Shaabi (populist) bloc: A coalition of populists (Sunni and Shia), liberals and nationalist parties with a focus on middle-class issues. The Popular Action Bloc is their main political party.
  • The Islamist bloc: Consisting of Sunni Islamist members. The Islamist bloc has 3 members elected in the 2013 national elections.

Kuwaiti general election, 2013:

Group Total Seats
Independents 30
Liberals 10
Shias 9
Sunni Islamists 3
Total 228,314 50
Registered voters/turnout 439,911
Source: Congressional Research Service, IFES

Government interference[edit]

Electoral gerrymandering[edit]

Main article: Gerrymandering

From the years 1981 until 2006, Kuwait was divided into 25 electoral districts in order to over-represent the government's supporters .[3] In July 2006, a new electoral law was approved, which reduced the number of electoral districts from 25 to 5.

In Kuwait's 1967 parliamentary election, there were reports of gerrymandering, ballot stuffing, miscounts and other irregularities in order to decrease the influence of the secular opposition.[4]

Vote buying[edit]

Many pro-government MPs were accused of vote buying in the 1980s and 1990s.


The Constitutional Court and Emir of Kuwait both have the authority to dissolve the house and must subsequently call for new elections within two months. The Constitutional Court has constitutionally dissolved the house, most recently in 2013. His Highness the Emir, the Commander of the Military of Kuwait has done so on five separate occasions. On two of those, the house was dissolved unconstitutionally, since no new elections were held within the legally required period, and the Emir of Kuwait then ruled by decree. The first case was from 1976 until 1981, and the second one from 1986 until 1992. On the tree other occasions, the Emir dissolved the house and new elections were held immediately afterward. This happened in 1999, in 2006, and most recently in December 2011 . Kuwaiti general elections were taken on July 2013.[5] The 2006 dissolution was brought by what is locally known as the Kuwaiti Orange Movement, when Kuwaitis held mass protests and demonstrations to demand that electoral districts be reduced in number from twenty-five to five.

Significant events[edit]

  • June 19, 1961- The Independence of Kuwait.
  • February 27, 1962- The Preliminary Assembly convened.
  • January 29, 1963- The First constitutionally elected Assembly convened.
  • February 27, 1967- The second elected Assembly convened, allegedly by forged elections.
  • May 13, 1985- Women's suffrage was passed, later removed and re-instated in 2005.
  • May 4, 1999- His Highness the Emir, the Commander-in-chief of the Military of Kuwait, Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah dissolved the National Assembly on the grounds of a political deadlock between the Government and the Assembly. This time he called for elections within the constitutional period of two months.
  • November 23, 1999- The National Assembly rejects an amiri decree by His Highness the Emir, the Commander-in-chief of the Military of Kuwait, Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah to grant women's suffrage in the next elections.
  • May 16, 2005- The National Assembly re-grants women's suffrage law after several attempts since the amiri decree of 1999.
  • May 21, 2006- Amidst week long disputes over reform to decrease the number of electoral districts, His Highness the newly nominated Emir and Commander-in-chief of the Military of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah dissolves the Assembly calling for new elections June 29 of 2006.
  • March 17, 2008- His Highness the Emir, the Commander-in-chief of the Military of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah again dissolves the Assembly due to misuse of parliamentary powers by some members. He called for elections May 17, 2008.
  • March 18, 2009 - His Highness the Emir, the Commander-in-chief of the Military of Kuwait, Sheikh Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah dissolves the Assembly calling for new elections in two months time. This happened immediately following some members' calls to "grill" (see Politics of Kuwait for a definition of grilling) the prime minister, after months of "grilling" and political deadlock. The government resigned on March the 17th.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [2]
  3. ^ "The Changing Nature of the Parliamentary System in Kuwait". p. 63 & 70. Due to the gerrymandering on the part of the government, the “tribes” from the 1980s onwards, came to occupy a significant number of seats in the National Assembly. 
  4. ^ Oil and Politics in the Gulf: Rulers and Merchants in Kuwait and Qatar. p. 88. 
  5. ^ "Kuwait's emir dissolves parliament". CNN. December 7, 2011. Retrieved 7 December 2011. 

External links[edit]