22.03.2024 Author: Viktor Mikhin

Kuwait: Upcoming National Assembly Elections

Kuwait: Upcoming National Assembly Elections

In early March, Kuwaiti government spokesman Amer Al-Ajmi said the cabinet approved a draft Emiri decree inviting citizens to elect the National Assembly (parliament) on April 4. He also added that the registration of candidates would begin on March 4. In February, Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah issued a decree dissolving the parliament. The decree was based on “violation of constitutional principles” by the National Assembly, which was elected in June 2023 on the Prime Minister’s proposal and was approved by the cabinet.

Reasons for the dissolution of the former Assembly

Kuwait’s Emir dissolved the former parliament, also known as the National Assembly, in response to the first political crisis during his rule. The dissolution was expected after the Assembly refused to delete the legislator’s remarks that were deemed disrespectful to the ruling government. The Emir’s decree states that the Assembly has violated constitutional principles, especially with regard to disrespect for public office and the deliberate use of disrespectful and offensive language by members of Parliament, and that the dissolution is in accordance with Article 107 of the Constitution. Public criticism of the Emir is a criminal offence, both for ordinary citizens and his relatives. For example, in May 2016, 5 Kuwaitis, including relatives of the Emir, were sentenced to imprisonment for speaking unkindly about the Emir on WhatsApp.

In this interview with Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, constitutional expert Dr Mohammed al-Faili confirmed that the dissolution was constitutional and that elections will be held within two months as required by law. “This dissolution decree has its reasons, and the reasons are material,” al-Faili said. The crisis began when lawmakers refused to retract comments seen as indirect insults by MP Abdulkarim Al-Kandari during a debate on the Emir’s speech.  This is the first time the Assembly has been dissolved since Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah took power on December 16, 2023.

In his inaugural speech to the Assembly on December 20, the new Emir criticized both the government and the parliament, accusing them of harming Kuwait’s national interests. On January 4, Emir Sheikh Mishal appointed Sheikh Dr Mohammad Sabah Al-Salem Al-Sabah as Prime Minister. A new cabinet of 13 ministers was formed on the same day. Since its establishment in 1963 following independence and the promulgation of the Constitution, the Assembly has been dissolved a total of 12 times.

Kuwait, a sovereign state on the Persian Gulf coast, is facing a number of challenges that are causing serious concern among its citizens. These challenges, which include both social and economic aspects, have a significant impact on the lives of Kuwaitis. One of the key challenges is the economic situation in the country. Kuwait, as one of the largest oil producers in the world, has been hit hard by the effects of the severe decline in world oil prices. The decline in oil revenues has led to financial difficulties, especially for the government, which is heavily dependent on oil revenues. As a result, Kuwaitis are experiencing a reduction in social support measures, which has a negative impact on their quality of life.

Kuwaitis also have strong concerns about maintaining their cultural and national identity in the face of the strong influence of Western culture. Many fear the loss of their traditions, language and values, causing sadness and anxiety about the future of their country.

All these challenges create a complex and tense situation in Kuwait, which is of great concern to its citizens. Urgent measures are needed to help resolve these challenges and restore stability and prosperity to the country. This requires efforts on the part of the government, civil society organizations and citizens to work together to create a favorable and sustainable environment for all Kuwaitis.

Kuwait’s upcoming elections and related challenges

Kuwait is entering a momentous period as the country prepares for elections. This political process not only determines the course of the country’s future development, but also reflects the main challenges facing Kuwaiti society. One of the important challenges inherent in elections is the issue of organizing a fair and transparent process. Over the past few decades, Kuwait has made significant strides in democratic transformation, but there is still some deficit in the provision of political freedoms and guarantees for the electoral process. A lack of independent observers could lead to possible irregularities and distortion of election results.

One of the problems inextricably linked to elections is the issue of the organization of election campaigns and the availability of information about candidates. The openness of the process, equal standards and opportunities for all candidates to campaign are key to creating competitive political platforms and ensuring civic confidence in elections. Moreover, one important issue is the level of voter participation in general. Low turnout in elections often indicates voters’ distrust of the political system and lack of awareness of the upcoming elections. Encouraging citizen participation and disseminating information about the political situation in the country are integral parts of addressing this issue.

In general, Kuwait’s elections pose many challenges to society that require attention and solution. Organization of open, fair and transparent elections, equal representation of women, accessibility of information about candidates and stimulating citizen participation are key aspects that can contribute to the democratic process in Kuwait. It is time to analyze in depth and develop effective solutions to ensure the country’s development and consolidate democratic values.

In the upcoming elections in Kuwait, the main topic of concern for locals is the future of the country and its economic development. While issues such as education, health and social protection also play an important role, the economy remains at the forefront. Kuwait is one of the most developed countries in the Gulf, and its residents are keen to maintain steady economic growth and improve living standards. In recent years, the country has faced several economic challenges, including a decline in oil prices, which has had a significant impact on the state budget and citizens’ living standards. Kuwait’s development plan is part of a comprehensive strategic vision spanning 25 years until 2035. It aims to transform Kuwait into an attractive financial and commercial center where the private sector drives economic activity, fuels competitive spirit and enhances productive efficiency. As part of its Vision 2035, Kuwait aims to transform the country into a global financial and commercial center attracting local and foreign investment. One of its flagship projects is the Silk City (Madinat al-Hareer), which is located on the waterfront, in the Subiya neighborhood. The project covers more than 250 square kilometers and is expected to take approximately 25 years to complete, with an estimated cost of $86 billion. Once completed, the project will put Kuwait on the global economic, investment and tourism map.

But in recent years, the country has faced some economic challenges, including a decline in oil prices, which has had a significant impact on the state budget and citizens’ living standards. And that is why Kuwaitis are interested in the candidates’ plans and programs aimed at diversifying the economy and strengthening the oil industry. Locals want to see efforts to attract foreign investment, develop the non-banking sector, stimulate service sector development and promote entrepreneurial activity. Much attention is also paid to the fight against corruption, which can have a negative impact on the country’s economic development.

The second significant topic Kuwaitis are concerned about is internal politics and stability in the country. Kuwait is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system, and citizens want to see the strengthening of democratic institutions, respect for human rights and freedom of speech, as well as a fight against illicit enrichment and violations of the law. In addition, environmental and sustainable development issues have become increasingly important to Kuwaitis in recent years. The country is struggling with air and water pollution, and is also trying to make the transition to renewable energy. Citizens want to see plans to tackle pollution, reduce carbon emissions and develop green infrastructures in the candidates’ programs.

In general, Kuwait’s elections are of primary concern to Kuwaitis in the areas of economics, politics and the environment. Citizens want to see the development and improvement of these areas to ensure the prosperity and well-being of their country. New elections always generate interest and anticipation, especially in the context of a country’s political life. And from this point of view, the upcoming elections in Kuwait are undoubtedly already of concern to the country’s leadership, its new Emir and the new government. The Kuwaiti leadership has already made its views on the upcoming elections clear, emphasizing the significance of this event for the development of the country and its citizens. Elections are considered an important element of the democratic process, allowing citizens to actively participate in political decision-making and influence the future of their country. In their remarks, the Kuwaiti leadership emphasized the need for fair, transparent and free elections. Confidence in the legitimacy and integrity of the electoral process is a key factor in maintaining citizens’ trust in the country’s political system.

In addition, the leadership expressed its desire to ensure extensive publicity and media coverage of the upcoming elections, considering it important to inform citizens and maintain the transparency of the process. Free expression and free access to information during elections are inherent principles of a democratic society. The Kuwaiti leadership emphasized that successful and responsible elections are the foundation of the country’s stability and development. They represent an opportunity for citizens to actively express their will and influence the political direction of the country. The leadership expressed the hope that the forthcoming elections would be conducted with high standards of democracy, thus strengthening the legality and legitimacy of Kuwait’s political system.


Viktor Mikhin, Corresponding Member of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook

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