Candidates’ manifestos vary, agree on key issues
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.
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.
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.