Can­di­dates’ man­i­festos vary, agree on key is­sues

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL -

KUWAIT: Can­di­dates for the Na­tional As­sem­bly (par­lia­ment) elec­tions to be held on 26 Novem­ber, have em­braced var­i­ous is­sues in their man­i­festos to at­tract vot­ers, but mostly they all agree on the key is­sues. Amid a real demo­cratic cli­mate, many nom­i­nees have adopted re­al­is­tic goals and vow to pur­sue them if they are lucky enough to win seats at the Ab­dul­lah Al-Salem’s Hall.

Many oth­ers to of­fer pro­grams that are viewed as lack­ing clear ex­ec­u­tive plans. Both are try­ing hard to reach po­ten­tial vot­ers, ei­ther di­rectly in ral­lies, or through the new media, so­cial net­work­ing in the first place.

An an­a­lyt­i­cal view could bet­ter show the dis­par­ity be­tween the man­i­festos, in terms of com­pre­hen­sive­ness and the ar­eas they cover. The ma­jor­ity of the pro­grams, if not all, share fo­cus on the key is­sues of ut­most con­cern to Kuwaiti vot­ers.

Too many prom­ises are be­ing made by po­ten­tial MPs, that’s noth­ing but nor­mal to lure vot­ers, most of whom, no doubt, en­joy a high level of aware­ness and ex­pe­ri­ence, which they have gained from pre­vi­ous polls, and, hope­fully, can make a sound choice.

As the pace of com­pe­ti­tion is es­ca­lat­ing among renowned heavy­weight nom­i­nees with long ex­pe­ri­ence on the leg­isla­tive scene, and new hope­fuls, mot­tos var­ied, play­ing on the na­tional ham­string, us­ing such phrases like ‘name of the na­tion,’ and ‘re­turn­ing Kuwait to the good old days.” Oth­ers prom­ises in­clude a more dig­ni­fied stan­dard of liv­ing to all Kuwaitis, and fight­ing ter­ror­ism.

As some can­di­dates have adopted more com­pre­hen­sive is­sues, fe­male nom­i­nees are ad­vo­cat­ing is­sues on women; equal­ity with men in civil rights, for in­stance, in ad­di­tion to ones of hu­man­i­tar­ian na­ture like the rights of di­vorced women, wi­d­ows and fe­males with spe­cial needs.

Some of these have been call­ing for guar­an­tee­ing a quota for women in the Na­tional As­sem­bly, re­fer­ring to what they call “male dom­i­na­tion of the so­ci­ety,” de­spite the fact that Kuwaiti women have been ef­fec­tively en­gaged in the po­lit­i­cal, eco­nomic and media scenes, af­ter they were granted suf­frage in 2005.

The ma­jor top­ics, re­ceiv­ing most at­ten­tion by all can­di­dates, males and fe­males, in­clude is­sues re­lated to youth, ed­u­ca­tion, health, and the eco­nomic, po­lit­i­cal and so­cial re­form, as well as the con­tro­ver­sial DNA law. One more, is seek­ing a leg­is­la­tion that in­crim­i­nates hate and sec­tar­ian speech in Kuwait.

Ex­ec­u­tive pro­gram

A pre­cise tech­ni­cal definition of the elec­toral man­i­festo is that it is a host of views that in­clude so­lu­tions to prob­lems fac­ing the so­ci­ety, to be later turned into an ex­ec­u­tive pro­gram, said pub­lic law pro­fes­sor and con­sti­tu­tion vet­eran Dr Mo­ham­mad Al-Feili. “But what we see in Kuwait is more like views, hopes and ex­pec­ta­tions,” he said.

Feili re­ferred to the real chal­lenges fac­ing Kuwait, some of which re­lated to the sit­u­a­tion in the re­gion, which prompts us to “pull to­gether” to counter them. There are fur­ther chal­lenges im­posed by the falls of oil prices, which “set us be­fore two so­lu­tions; ei­ther to think out­side the box to bring ex­tra in­come, or to cut spend­ing,” he said.

Can­di­dates re­frain from se­ri­ously com­pris­ing such chal­lenges on their man­i­festos least they should lose vot­ers, a mat­ter that dis­tances them from real prob­lems, the pro­fes­sor noted. Un­for­tu­nately, sev­eral nom­i­nees’ cam­paigns are seek­ing to gen­er­ate sup­port through arous­ing fac­tional or sec­tar­ian emo­tions, or cre­at­ing fears from “the other,” Feili said.

Al-Feili spoke of sim­i­lar top­ics adopted by male and fe­male can­di­dates, since both be­long to the same so­ci­ety, yet fe­males are more for ad­vo­cat­ing women’s is­sues. For him, this is un­sound in demo­cratic prac­tice, as an MP rep­re­sents the en­tire na­tion, and not spe­cific groups, he stressed.

Eth­i­cal obli­ga­tion

A can­di­date’s man­i­festo is an “eth­i­cal obli­ga­tion” of prom­ises, that might not be pos­si­ble to re­al­ize in re­al­ity, con­sti­tu­tion ex­pert, pro­fes­sor of law at the Kuwait University Dr Mo­ham­mad Al Mo­qa­tee said. He added that sev­eral elec­tri­cal pro­grams do not re­veal re­flect can­di­date’s ef­fi­ciency or ca­pa­bil­i­ties, as many of them are de­signed by ad­ver­tis­ing agen­cies or even a nom­i­nee’s media team, with­out ad­e­quate knowl­edge of the po­ten­tial MP him­self.

Most can­di­dates are just ‘di­ag­nos­ing prob­lems’ with no pre­cise or re­al­is­tic so­lu­tions pro­posed, Al-Mo­qa­tee said. He called for fur­ther ef­forts and co­op­er­a­tion to han­dle the na­tion’s prob­lems, apart from “pri­vate agen­das and in­ter­ests.”

On Oc­to­ber 16, His High­ness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ah­mad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah is­sued a de­cree dis­solv­ing the Na­tional As­sem­bly, in line with Ar­ti­cle 107 of the Kuwaiti Con­sti­tu­tion. Elec­tions for a new As­sem­bly have to be held within a pe­riod not ex­ceed­ing two months from the date of dis­so­lu­tion. Soon the new elec­tions were set for Novem­ber 26.

The 2016 par­lia­men­tary elec­tions are held ac­cord­ing to de­cree 20/2012, amended by law 42/2006 on re­or­ga­niz­ing the elec­toral con­stituen­cies. As per Law 20/2012, the first 10 can­di­dates with most votes will win seats in par­lia­ment in each con­stituency. Vot­ers can only vote for one can­di­date per the con­stituency they’re reg­is­tered in.

Dr Mo­ham­mad Al-Feili

Dr Mo­ham­mad Al Mo­qa­tee

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