Just over 795,000 Kuwaitis will be able to go to the polls on Tuesday June 5 to elect 50 deputies and hope for the formation of a stable government. Since 2012, the country has had ten legislative elections and no less than seven governments over the past three years.
Among its counterparts in the Gulf, the Kuwaiti National Assembly is the one with the most important powers. “Everyone speaks relatively freely”, explains Philippe Pétriat, lecturer in Middle Eastern history at the Sorbonne. In this country where parties are banned, the system still allows the expression of a diverse opposition ranging “from liberals to Islamists”.
However, Kuwait has been plunged for several years into a series of political crises which complicate the reform projects. In particular on the diversification of its economy still largely dependent on the oil windfall which makes up 90% of state income.
Last March, the Constitutional Court canceled the legislative elections held in 2022 and won by the opposition. Parliament, elected in 2020 in an election “very decried, because marked by corruption scandals”has been reinstated. “The 2022 election had brought a lot of renewal to the National Assembly with a movement of degagism, after Philippe Pétriat. Many people went to vote, especially young people. »
Formed in April, the last government to date fell after the dissolution of parliament announced by Crown Prince Mechaal Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah, who exercises power in the name of the emir.
The issue of abstention
Elected for four years and with powers allowing them to hold ministers belonging to the royal family to account, the 50 deputies are however limited by the waltz of governments. So much so that only 207 candidates, including 13 women, claim a parliamentary seat in these elections. A number at the lowest for twenty years.
Abstention could also be important. If the turnout reached 50 to 60% in previous elections, it could drop this Tuesday. “There is discouragement and disgust, many will not vote because they are fed up,” adds the specialist. A campaign encouraging subjects to vote is also underway in the country with billboards and television spots. An important issue at a time when low turnout risks giving the future government “a limited legitimacy in a context where politicians and the royal family are discredited in their ability to carry out reforms”.
Consensus on the needs to diversify the economy
The diversification of the economy remains the priority for the Kuwaiti Parliament. With the largest oil reserves in the world when compared to the population, the country is struggling to free itself from the revenues linked to its exploitation. Causing a certain ” worry “ faced with the speed at which other Gulf countries such as the Qatar where the United Arab Emirates have been able to invest in many areas.
“In principle, everyone agrees to implement many reforms. The problem is how to put them in place,” notes Philippe Pétriat. Reform projects often come up against local issues such as the allocation of subsidies for infrastructure projects or the sharing of ministerial portfolios.
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