Special report: Kuwait - A fresh political crisis unfolds

28 March 2008

Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah’s recent decision to dissolve parliament and hold new elections was his only option in the face of the obvious antagonism between the executive and elected members, which culminated in the resignation of the cabinet in March.

However, the new poll, due to be held on 17 May, is unlikely to resolve the political impasse the state has suffered over the past five years. Indeed, it may even make the situation worse.

The vote will be the first held under the new constituencies law, which enables voting for candidates from five electoral districts rather than 25. This should ensure that the impact of tribal influences as well as vote buying is reduced, and that MPs are elected on their policies and not their wealth.

The hope is this will create a better parliamentarian, who votes for legislation based on informed opinion not populist pandering - such as a bill in 2007 that demanded the state pay off all commercial loans owed by locals.

Yet, more realistically, this will not be the case. The elections are likely to result in greater numbers of opposition Islamist MPs, and instead of having the support of a sizeable minority of legislators, the government could find itself with barely any support.

If it found it tough going before, it may find it considerably harder in future.

Special Report: Kuwait - Index of all stories

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