After the judiciary dissolved the legislature, voters in Kuwait are today casting votes for the third poll which closes at 8 p.m. The results are anticipated on Wednesday. While this election aims at ending the political deadlock as well as stagnancy in the country, the repetitive nature of casting votes with unyielding results has left the public discontent regarding the feasibility of elections to solve this long-prevalent issue.
Only Kuwait has a democratically elected legislature that applies some restraints to the ruling family among the Gulf Arab nations. But infighting has paralyzed the political system in recent years, making it impossible to implement even the most fundamental changes.
While this election aims at ending the political deadlock as well as stagnancy in the country, the repetitive nature of casting votes with unyielding results has left the public discontent regarding the feasibility of elections to solve this long-prevalent issue.
The political turmoil in Kuwait
The results are anticipated on Wednesday, and the polls close today at 8 p.m. The most recent election, which was conducted just eight months ago, provided a mandate for reform by adding 27 new members to the 50-member parliament, including two women and fundamentalist Islamists.
The ruling, which dissolved the previous parliament elected in 2020, was overturned by Kuwait’s Constitutional Court in March, thereby reinstating it again.
This brought about some relief amid the political turmoil; however, this calm was short-lived.
A few weeks later, the ruling Al Sabah family again advocated the dissolution of the previous parliament, laying the stage for this week’s vote and creating a significant power vacuum at the top that plunged the nation into recurring instability.
The upheaval, according to Kristin Diwan, senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, partially results from disagreements within the royal family after Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah’s passing in 2020.
The discontent situation of the citizens in Kuwait
After the judiciary dissolved the legislature, voters in Kuwait are today casting votes for the third poll, with analysts reiterating that there’s little chance of breaking the protracted impasse between the ruling family and aggressive lawmakers.
“People on the ground aren’t very positive at the moment regarding change, and that’s why there’s this discontent as well as low turnout for votes” said Dania Thafer, director at Gulf International Forum.
While public discontent is seen in waves, many Kuwaitis still believe that it is their right and duty as citizens to vote for the benefit of this country.
Ibrahim Shehab, a Kuwaiti, stated, “My vote is a right and a duty,” pushing others to cast a ballot despite worries about voter apathy. In order to defend democracy, he added, “I hope that all Kuwaitis who are eligible to vote will follow my example.”
The uncertain path ahead
Kuwait University associate history professor Bader Al-Saif declared, “Kuwait isn’t doing well.”
Kuwait’s cabinet ministers are chosen by the ruling Al-Sabah family, which has a firm hold on political affairs but elects parliamentarians.
Legislators have been unable to enact economic changes due to ongoing disputes between the executive and legislative departments, and plenty believe that the government has underinvested in services like education, healthcare, and other essentials.
According to Diwan, “there is a lack of clear direction and energy coming from the top.” It seems like there is a general void where other political institutions and societal forces are taking control and using it as leverage for their advantage.
With 7% of the world’s crude reserves found here, Kuwait is truly oil-rich. It boasts one of the world’s strongest sovereign wealth funds with negligible debt.
Kuwait is a wealthy nation that has the ability to diversify in a manner akin to Gulf powerhouses Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar. However, Kuwait’s lack of stability has scared off its investors, shattering their aspirations for change.
Kuwait needs to reform its political scenario to ensure optimum growth and development for the country and its citizens.