Kuwaitis head to polls to elect new Assem­bly

A look back at Kuwait’s elec­toral sys­tems

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE - —KUNA

Kuwaitis are set to head to the polls to­day to elect 50 mem­bers of the Na­tional Assem­bly in par­lia­men­tary elections that will set in mo­tion par­lia­ment’s 15th leg­isla­tive term. Some 293 can­di­dates, are vy­ing for the much cov­eted seat in par­lia­ment, where the 483,186-strong elec­torate will vote for 50 can­di­dates rep­re­sent­ing the nation’s elec­torate con­stituen­cies, un­der the watch­ful eye of 15,000 se­cu­rity forces.

More­over, males com­prise 47.68 per­cent of the elec­torate, while fe­males make up 52.31 per­cent. The elections are tak­ing place as per law num­ber 42/2006 which deals with re­shap­ing the elec­toral con­stituen­cies, where each con­stituency will field a to­tal of 10 can­di­dates in which the elec­torate can only vote for one can­di­date per con­stituency. On Oc­to­ber 16, His High­ness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ah­mad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah is­sued a de­cree dis­solv­ing par­lia­ment, cit­ing volatile regional con­di­tions and mount­ing se­cu­rity chal­lenges.

In 1963, Kuwait’s in­au­gu­ral par­lia­ment was elected in an event that ush­ered in democ­racy, where 205 can­di­dates vied for 50 seats in the coun­try’s first par­lia­ment. On De­cem­ber 16, 1980, by virtue of an Amiri de­cree, Kuwait was di­vided into 25 elec­toral con­stituen­cies, a sys­tem that pro­duced seven leg­isla­tive terms. As per clause num­ber 80 of the con­sti­tu­tion, par­lia­ment is made up of 50 MPs who are cho­sen through par­lia­men­tary elections.

Mean­while, on Au­gust 1, 2006, His High­ness the Amir is­sued law num­ber 42/2006, which re­shaped the elec­toral con­stituen­cies in a way where vot­ers are per­mit­ted to vote for four can­di­dates per the con­stituency they are reg­is­tered in.

On May 17, 2008, the first elec­tion un­der that sys­tem was held af­ter par­lia­ment was dis­solved in 2006, fol­lowed by elections held in 2009 un­der the same for­mat. In Fe­bru­ary 2012, elections took place us­ing the same sys­tem. How­ever, af­ter par­lia­ment was dis­solved in 2012, the sys­tem was amended again where the elec­torate can only vote for one can­di­date in dive dif­fer­ent elec­toral con­stituen­cies.

As per clause 83 of the con­sti­tu­tion, a sin­gle par­lia­men­tary term lasts for four years, where it is au­tho­rized to is­sue a raft of leg­isla­tive and in­spec­tive de­ci­sions. How­ever, no law can be im­ple­mented with­out the ap­proval of Par­lia­ment and His High­ness the Amir.

Fur­ther­more, the Na­tional Assem­bly’s leg­isla­tive author­ity is tasked with im­ple­ment­ing le­gal de­ci­sions, in­clud­ing po­lit­i­cal ones, where no law can be fi­nal­ized with­out the ap­proval of Par­lia­ment and His High­ness the Amir.

Par­lia­men­tary de­ci­sions re­gard­ing fi­nan­cial af­fairs typ­i­cally deal with the na­tional bud­get, in ad­di­tion to that of the Par­lia­ment. His High­ness the Amir re­serves the right to dis­solve par­lia­ment with a law clar­i­fy­ing the rea­sons be­hind the dis­so­lu­tion, where elections are then held no later than two months af­ter the dis­so­lu­tion.

As per clause 31 of elec­tion laws, bal­lots open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p. m., how­ever, if the en­tire elec­torate have casted their votes be­fore the end of the al­lot­ted pe­riod, then bal­lots will of­fi­cially close, sub­se­quently ini­ti­at­ing the vote tal­ly­ing process.

There are a to­tal of 89 del­e­gates in the First Con­stituency, di­vided over 16 schools. The Se­cond Con­stituency fea­tures 66 del­e­gates, with 96 and 143 del­e­gates in the Third and Fourth Con­stituen­cies, re­spec­tively. Lastly, the Fifth Con­stituency com­prises 148 del­e­gates.

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