The Kuwaiti parliament

25 February 2003
A ruling by the constitutional court on 2 February has put to rest any chances of early elections to the National Assembly (parliament). The verdict, taken in response to a request made by certain members seeking re-election in mid-May, upheld article 83 of the constitution, which stipulates that the term of parliament will be four calendar years from the first day of its first sitting. That means elections cannot be staged before 23 July.

All 50 seats will be contested in the elections to the National Assembly, once a beacon for democracy in the Gulf. As has been the case at previous elections, political parties will be barred, leaving candidates to align with one of five blocs in the chamber: Al-Dastoriya (Islamists); Al-Salaf (the elder Mohammedian); Al-Taqafiya (reformist); liberals; and independents. In the last election, Islamist and liberal candidates made strong gains at the expense of those deemed to be government supporters.

Some of the major election issues will be:

Relations with Iraq under a new regime

Economic liberalisation and the development of the non-oil economy

Enactment of a foreign direct investment law and changes to the tax laws of 1959

Offering employment to fresh Kuwaiti graduates

Internal security and countering the threat from Al-Qaeda

Governmental corruption and inefficiency

Granting of the franchise to women and allowing them to stand in future elections.

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