Se­nior ci­ti­zens to have a say in elec­tions

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL - KUWAIT:

With every par­lia­men­tary elec­tions in Kuwait, the ma­jor­ity of ci­ti­zens dis­cuss poli­cies, can­di­dates char­ac­ters and pref­er­ences most of­ten, and se­niors are no ex­cep­tion. The role of se­niors in every elec­tion is vi­tal; their col­lec­tive par­tic­i­pa­tion holds power, and re­tired peo­ple are es­pe­cially vul­ner­a­ble to any changes in pol­icy made by elected of­fi­cials, as so­cial se­cu­rity is prob­a­bly the most im­por­tant con­cern that matters to this seg­ment of Kuwaitis.

In an over­all his­tor­i­cal com­par­i­son be­tween elec­tions some half a cen­tury ago and nowa­days, Hus­sein Al-Doukhi, 78, said that de­spite the lengthy time­line, some as­pects of the elec­toral process re­mained the same, and if it has changed, it did slightly.

Doukhi, a re­tired em­ployee of the min­istry of in­for­ma­tion, said at his Di­waniyah in Shamiya that due to the small pop­u­la­tion in Kuwaits 1963 and 1967, the peo­ples “de­mands” of can­di­dates were few and sim­ple, “as sim­ple as the time back then.” He noted that even hos­pi­tal­ity ser­vices pro­vided to po­ten­tial vot­ers were cof­fee and tea, and maybe an oc­ca­sional din­ner held at the can­di­dates head­quar­ters or Di­waniyah.

“Sure there were in­ter­ests and fierce com­pe­ti­tion among can­di­dates to win a seat in par­lia­ment, yet, and again prob­a­bly due to lim­ited me­dia means such as TV ads and so­cial me­dia, these con­flicts and charged rhetoric were not felt as com­pared to cur­rent days.”

On whether he would be phys­i­cally able to vote next Satur­day, Novem­ber 26, Doukhi gazed in­ef­fa­bly in the ceil­ing for a mo­ment and replied, “hope­fully I would; it is a na­tional duty” and my right after all as a Kuwaiti.

“Most, if not all can­di­dates in my con­stituency al­ready of­fered and promised to se­cure trans­porta­tion (pri­vate car with a driver and a wheel­chair) for me to the school polling cen­ter and back. He smiled while rem­i­nisc­ing and said “see, they did not have these kind of ser­vices in the past for ex­am­ple. Not that I re­call any­way.

“I voted in 2013, 2012, 2009, 2008 and 2006, and in­shal­lah this year.” Ac­cord­ing to 2011 of­fi­cial sta­tis­tics, 65-year-old and over of Kuwaitis rep­re­sent two per­cent of the to­tal pop­u­la­tion (25,443 males and 25,979 fe­males).

Mi­fleh Al-Shim­mari, another se­nior cit­i­zen, said can­di­dates in the past to­tally re­lied on “di­rect” in­ter­ac­tion with con­stituents, as op­posed to nowa­days, where so­cial me­dia out­lets are the key means to reach out to vot­ers to the point that “You dont even know the names of MPs.”

He added that the cur­rent elec­tions are be­ing held amid “dif­fi­cult” se­cu­rity and eco­nomic cir­cum­stances in the re­gion, hop­ing that the next par­lia­ment would rise up to the oc­ca­sion and be re­spon­si­ble enough to deal with these chal­lenges.

Fatmah Has­san, 85, said that de­spite the fact that she never went to vote, she urges ‘younger’ se­nior ci­ti­zens to head to the polling sta­tions next Satur­day, es­pe­cially women. “I do not know, nor I am in­ter­ested in pol­i­tics, but I do re­al­ize that I have a right as a Kuwaiti to vote, and even run for par­lia­ment. I have an el­e­men­tary de­gree and I can read and write in Ara­bic, and some English too,” she ex­claimed with joy.

Women were granted the right to vote and run for par­lia­ment in May 2005. The bill, which passed in par­lia­ment with 40 votes for and 10 against, al­lowed women to vote and run in par­lia­men­tary and lo­cal elec­tions. Four years later, in May 2009, four fe­male can­di­dates won par­lia­men­tary seats.—KUNA

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