National Assembly (Kuwait)
|27 July 2013|
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
The National Assembly (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.
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. 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, it ranks highly in comparison to other parliaments in the Middle East as a whole.
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 Emir can appoint the prime minister, however the appointment of a 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 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.
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. The Constitutional Court has dissolved the house several times, most recently in 2013. The Emir has dissolved the house on five separate occasions. On two of those, the house was dissolved unconstitutionally, since no new elections were held within the legally required period. On the tree other occasions, the Emir constitutionally dissolved the house and new elections were held immediately afterward. This happened in 1999, 2006, and most recently in 2011.
While political parties are not legally recognized in Kuwait, a number of political factions exist. The house is composed of different 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.
- Politics of Kuwait
- Government of Kuwait
- Elections in Kuwait
- List of Speakers of Kuwait National Assembly
- Kuwait National Assembly No-Confidence Votes
- Robert F. Worth (2008). "In Democracy Kuwait Trusts, but Not Much". New York Times.
- Nathan J. Brown. "Mechanisms of accountability in Arab governance: The present and future of judiciaries and parliaments in the Arab world". p. 16-18.
- Eran Segal. "Kuwait Parliamentary Elections: Women Making History". Tel Aviv Notes. p. 1.
- "Kuwait court ruling may threaten economic recovery". Reuters. 15 May 2013. Retrieved 1 July 2013.