Challenges ahead of the elections
Kuwait will hold elections on Nov 26 amid complex internal and external challenges, with its outcome unknown. This election will bring about many changes, especially with the return of senior former opposition figures. This is why the results of this election may redraw the political scenario of the future.
On Oct 16, early elections were called. It was surprising news amid many interpretations and public complaints about the performance of the Assembly. The dissolution of the Assembly brought hope and optimism for a change in the parliamentary scene. There is no better time to make promises than now.
The interesting and important aspect is the return of many opponents of the one-vote system, despite criticizing this process openly and loudly for many years. It shows they are reevaluating their political agendas. I still think the one-vote system is the best. It did not serve the interests and the electoral arrangements of some, but at least it brought some change.
The Assembly has faced several crises annually since 2006. The Kuwaiti parliamentary experience is the oldest in the Gulf, as the first parliamentary election was held in 1963. But, with many ups and downs in political life, the parliamentary arena saw many differences and was dissolved nine times from 1976 till 2016. This is too much. Kuwait has gone backwards tremendously during this period.
The repeated dissolutions are not positive at all for Kuwait’s reputation internationally and politically and the process of reform and development. Today, while all GCC states are making great strides socially, politically and economically, Kuwait only looks at the rear, which is unfortunate and sad. I am asked by many people why Kuwait is on the retreat. I have no answer. I don’t know whom to blame it is like a chain and no one is innocent.
The obvious imbalance in demographics creates internal problems of dual loyalty and affiliation. This means that voters give preference to personal interests in the selection of the candidates for the National Assembly, amid speculation and rumors to the possibility of the elections being scrapped. The Kuwaiti opposition lacks leadership in the absence of their imprisoned leader, so people feel that there is no clear agenda. But they express and confirm the rejection of corruption in all seminars.
Women seem almost absent from the elections with no influence on the political arena. There are a few women in the race who apparently do not have common agreement between themselves, and it doesn’t seem that they are receiving support from the society. Of course, they have ideas, but the situation is complex. This is my opinion and an unfortunate reality for women in 2016.
The government will try to convince people of the importance of lifting subsidies gradually, especially in light of the budget deficit. But I do not think it will be easy. Voters will be back on Nov 26, but questions will remain over the future of the election process, or a possible new dissolution.