Political turmoil returns to Kuwait

21 June 2012

In reversing election results, Kuwait is taking a step back from its role as a leading cultural and political state

An unprecedented court ruling on 20 June annulled the results of Kuwait’s February elections and reinstated the previously dissolved parliament. This followed the emir’s announcement that parliament was to be suspended for a month, just days earlier.

If it helps kickstart the country’s infrastructure projects and economic reform, many investors in Kuwait will welcome the decision. But the move is unlikely to calm the increasing tension between the popularly elected parliament and the emir-appointed government, which has already resulted in the resignation of several cabinet ministers in recent weeks.

Parliament’s opposition blocs had been emboldened by their success in the February elections, which gave them a majority. Since then, they have pushed for greater inclusion in the decision-making process, pressing for at least nine ministers to be drawn from the National Assembly, a request which is unlikely to be met.

Kuwait’s constitution requires only one minister be from parliament and the Al-Sabahs have stuck rigidly to this, choosing only non-confrontational members for the role and reserving key posts for family members.

In reversing the election results because of opposition from the elected body, Kuwait looks like it is following the example set by Egypt and is taking a step back from the leading cultural and political role it has enjoyed in the Gulf since the 1960s.

Kuwait: Breaking the cycle of political crises

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