Opposition gains in Kuwait elections

18 May 2008
Opposition Islamist candidates appeared to have won about half of the 50 seats in Kuwait’s parliamentary elections on 17 May, dealing a blow to the government which was hoping for a more supportive legislature.

The elections committee announced on 18 May that 25 Islamist MPs had been elected, although because political parties are banned in Kuwait, it is difficult to bracket legislators into certain political platforms.

Liberals did not fare so well, gaining just seven seats, while secularist nationalists achieved just three seats. The balance was a mix of tribal and independent candidates.

While there were 27 female candidates, none succeeded in getting elected, although two only just missed out.

Kuwait has been paralysed in recent years by an increasingly fractious relationship between the government and the Islamist-led National Assembly (parliament).

MPs have consistently blocked legislation, giving the government cause to blame them for the state’s lack of progress.

Following the elections, Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah must now appoint a prime minister to form a government.

However, with the opposition having strong support in parliament, the coming term is not likely to be easy for the executive.

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