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 Ali Al-Rashed. The Constitutional Court constitutionally dissolved the house in June 2013, subsequently issuing a decree for new elections. The Emir unconstitutionally dissolved the house in 1986 and restored it after the Gulf War in 1992. The Emir has also constitutionally dissolved the house several times, meaning that he dissolved it and called for new elections immediately afterward.
Until 2005, 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. On May 16, 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 four votes, though one may choose to only cast 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.
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. The Emir 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 . 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.
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. In 2006 national elections, they won around 10 seats of the parliament. 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. In the February 2012 national elections, they won 13 seats.
In the 2006 general election, a coalition of 29 candidates who were members of parliament was formed (which was increased to 36 members after the election) aimed to support the 5 electoral districts bill.
May 13, 1985- Women's suffrage was passed, later removed and re-instated in 2005.
May 4, 1999- Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber 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 Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber 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.
January 29, 2006- Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah was sworn in as the 15th emir of Kuwait, which was unanimously approved by the National Assembly.
May 21, 2006- Amidst week long disputes over reform to decrease the number of electoral districts, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah dissolves the Assembly calling for new elections June 29 of 2006.
March 17, 2008- Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad again dissolves the Assembly due to misuse of parliamentary powers by some members. He called for elections May 17, 2008.
March 18, 2009 - Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad 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.