Government of Kuwait

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

Kuwait is a constitutional emirate with a semi-democratic political system.[1][2][3] The hybrid political system is divided between an elected parliament and appointed government.[1][4][5]

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 Persian Gulf region and the Constitutional Court is widely believed to be one of the most judicially independent courts in the Arab world.[6]

Legislative branch (Parliament)[edit]

The National Assembly is the legislature in Kuwait.[7] The National Assembly has the power to remove government ministers from their post. MPs frequently exercise their constitutional right to interpellate government members. The National Assembly's interpellation sessions of ministers are aired on Kuwaiti TV. MPs also have the right to interpellate the prime minister, and then table a motion of non-cooperation with the government, in which case the cabinet must get replaced.

The National Assembly can have up to 50 MPs. 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.

The Constitutional Court has the authority to dissolve the house and must subsequently call for new elections within two months. The Constitutional Court is widely believed to be one of the most judicially independent courts in the Arab world.[6] The Emir also has the authority to dissolve the house and must call for new elections within two months. The Constitutional Court can invalidate the Emir's decree dissolving the parliament.

The National Assembly is the main legislative power in Kuwait. The Emir can veto laws but the National Assembly can override his veto by a two-third vote. The National Assembly (per article 4 of the Constitution) has the constitutional right to approve and disapprove of an Emir's appointment. 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,[8] it is among the strongest parliaments in the Middle East.[9]

Executive branch[edit]

Government[edit]

Main article: Cabinet of Kuwait

The prime minister chooses the cabinet (government). The appointment of a new government requires the approval of the National Assembly. The prime minister is a member of the ruling family and is appointed by the Emir.

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 National Assembly has the right to remove government ministers from their post. MPs frequently exercise their constitutional right to interpellate government ministers. The National Assembly's interpellation sessions of ministers are aired on Kuwaiti TV. MPs also have the right to interpellate the prime minister, and then table a motion of non-cooperation with the government, in which case the cabinet must get replaced.

Emir[edit]

The Emir's powers are defined by the 1961 constitution. These powers include appointing the prime minister, who in turn chooses the cabinet (government). 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.

January 2006[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.

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]

  1. ^ a b "Kuwait's Democracy Faces Turbulence". Wall Street Journal. 
  2. ^ Selvik, Kjetil (2011). "Elite Rivalry in a Semi-Democracy: The Kuwaiti Press Scene". Middle Eastern Studies: 478. 
  3. ^ "Kuwait Country Report". Bertelsmann Foundation. 
  4. ^ Selvik, Kjetil (2011). "Elite Rivalry in a Semi-Democracy: The Kuwaiti Press Scene". Middle Eastern Studies 47 (3): 477–496. 
  5. ^ Ulrichsen, Kristian Coates (2014). "Politics and Opposition in Kuwait: Continuity and Change". Journal of Arabian Studies: Arabia, the Gulf, and the Red Sea 4 (2): 214–230. 
  6. ^ a b "Kuwait court ruling may threaten economic recovery". Reuters. 15 May 2013. Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  7. ^ Robert F. Worth (2008). "In Democracy Kuwait Trusts, but Not Much". New York Times. 
  8. ^ Nathan J. Brown. "Mechanisms of accountability in Arab governance: The present and future of judiciaries and parliaments in the Arab world" (PDF). p. 16-18. 
  9. ^ Eran Segal. "Kuwait Parliamentary Elections: Women Making History" (PDF). Tel Aviv Notes. p. 1.