Con­stituency switch: Tac­tic to win seat in par­lia­ment

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL -

KUWAIT: Many can­di­dates con­test­ing par­lia­men­tary elec­tions due on Novem­ber 26 have em­ployed nu­mer­ous strate­gies and ploys to max­i­mize their chances of win­ning a much cov­eted seat in Par­lia­ment.

One ma­neu­ver that has been in vogue in the run up to this year’s elec­tion is some­thing known as the, “con­stituency switch” where can­di­dates would file their can­di­da­cies in a new con­stituency in a bid to in­crease the like­li­hood of suc­cess.

How­ever, this ploy cer­tainly re­quires shrewd­ness on the part of the can­di­date, where a thor­ough study of the line­ups of each con­stituency is needed, in ad­di­tion to a shift in ide­olo­gies to cater to the needs and wishes of the elec­torates in each con­stituency.

More­over, an­other rea­son for the con­stituency switch is in­sta­bil­ity or forms of chi­canery that have plagued some con­stituen­cies, most no­tably, re­ports of “un­law­ful con­sul­ta­tions” in some con­stituen­cies have be­come com­mon­place.

Fur­ther­more, two Kuwaiti aca­demics rea­soned that there is more to the con­stituency switch than mere as­pi­ra­tions of suc­cess. “So­cial and po­lit­i­cal fac­tors re­flec­tive of strife amongst ri­val­ing tribes, fam­i­lies and sects fig­ure into things,” they said.

Sev­eral rea­sons

So­ci­ol­ogy pro­fes­sor at Kuwait University (KU) Ali Al-Zaabi noted that a can­di­date’s move from one con­stituency to an­other usu­ally in­volves tribal, fa­mil­ial and in­tel­lec­tual rea­sons. Kuwaiti so­ci­ety, Zaabi noted, is gov­erned by rigid so­cial and fa­mil­ial val­ues that de­ter­mine how ap­peal­ing or ac­cept­able a can­di­date is found to be. “A so­cial obli­ga­tion is thrust upon a can­di­date when he makes the move from one con­stituency to an­other,” he added.

Mean­while, pro­fes­sor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions at KU Dr Ab­dur­raz­zaq Al-Shayji said that the con­stituency switch first emerged in the 1980s, where can­di­dates typ­i­cally fa­vor con­test­ing elec­tions in a con­stituency that is void in­tel­lec­tual, tribal, eco­nomic and sec­tar­ian un­rest.

“When can­di­dates move to an­other con­stituency, it is be­cause they don’t like their chances of suc­cess,” Al-Shayji said. How­ever, he un­der­scored that can­di­dates need to make ma­jor tweaks to their elec­tion cam­paigns in order to con­nect with a new elec­torate.

“Some can­di­dates make the switch on grounds of pre­vent­ing ri­vals from win­ning a seat in par­lia­ment,” he said. Can­di­dates with the great­est chances of suc­cess are those who have the abil­ity to sway vot­ers with en­tic­ing sug­ges­tions and cam­paign prom­ises, he pointed out. —KUNA

Dr Ali Al-Zaabi Dr Ab­dur­raz­zaq Al-Shayji

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