Opposition wins seats in vote, as does just one woman
Opposition members are set to return to Kuwait’s parliament after a more than three-year absence, though only one woman secured a place in the legislature, elections results released yesterday showed. Kuwaitis voted Saturday for representatives in the oil-rich country’s 50-member parliament, the most empowered among the Gulf Arab states. The election was held against the backdrop of lingering security concerns following a deadly suicide bombing last year, as well as anxiety over the depth of cutbacks to generous statefunded perks driven by a slump in oil revenues. The gains by the opposition are unlikely to seriously upend the tiny Western-allied country’s political order. Parliament still appears to be controlled by pro-government lawmakers, who have the authority to question government ministers. Power in the country ultimately remains with the hereditary emir. Six prominent opposition figures who have taken part in street protests secured seats in Saturday’s vote. So did 13 political newcomers, including four backed by different Kuwaiti youth liberal groups and nine representing tribal groupings. Political parties are illegal in Kuwait, meaning opposition blocs tend to be fluid and form alliances around particular issues. Safaa al-Hashem was the only woman to win one of the 50 seats up for grabs in Saturday’s election. The liberal candidate has served in previous parliaments, and was one of 15 women who ran for seats. The tribal opposition along with its conservative Muslim allies boycotted the last elections in 2013 in a dispute over changes to the electoral law that they alleged reduced their clout. Members of Kuwait’s substantial Shiite Muslim minority saw their share of seats fall to six from nine previously. A new Cabinet is now expected to be formed within a week. The 15-seat Cabinet is appointed by the prime minster, who in turn is appointed by the emir.