Opposition groups and individuals made an impressive showing in the National Assembly elections by winning almost half of the 50 seats, with Kuwaiti voters dealing a heavy blow to the previous Assembly that failed to stop the government from raising petrol prices.
The Islamist, nationalist and liberal opposition, which returned to the polls after a four-year boycott, won at least 15 seats, with between seven and 10 seats won by its allies. This will enable the opposition to grill ministers and vote them out of office, which will considerably boost its power in the next Assembly. Islamists make up the backbone of the opposition, with the Islamic Constitutional Movement (ICM), the local arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, bagging four seats and a few supporters.
Kuwaiti voters severely punished the dissolved Assembly members, with only 20 of the 50 members re-elected. They included former speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanem. Twenty-two members of the dissolved house failed in their re-election bid, while eight others did not run in the polls. Two of three former ministers were not reelected.
The results clearly reflect the Kuwaiti electorate’s annoyance with the previous Assembly, which approved a large number of unpopular laws and also failed to prevent the government from raising the price of petrol and other services. But the opposition’s win raises fears that the country will see a return to a series of escalating political crises, as existed pre- 2013.
Opposition candidates have raised a number of key issues as their priorities. These include a pledge to prevent the government from applying austerity measures against Kuwaiti citizens and a promise to settle the controversial issue of revoking citizenships. They also vowed to amend or completely change a number of highly oppressive legislations like the DNA test law, imposing controls on the Internet and others. The election passed without any incident and without allegations of rigging or deliberate errors. The Shiite minority was reduced to just six MPs from nine in the previous Assembly. They won only four seats in their main stronghold in the first electoral district.
This edited article was originally published by The Kuwait Times