“The people have spoken”, headlines the major Kuwaiti daily Al-Raï the day after the legislative elections of this Thursday, September 29, in a formula which alone sums up the specificity of this small country of 4.5 million inhabitants, of whom only 1.5 million are nationals. It is indeed the only petromonarchy in the Gulf which can claim to maintain an almost democratic life.
These were the sixth elections in just ten years, and the previous parliament was dissolved last June by the crown prince, who rules in the name of the emir. Thursday’s ballot had been widely presented, by many candidates, but also with words covered by the reigning dynasty, such as that of “the last chance”.
The country has indeed been plunged into a latent political crisis since the major demonstrations that rocked it in the wake of the “Arab Spring” a decade ago.
Success of women… and Islamists
Immediately, the newspaper Al-Qabas, venerable mouthpiece of the liberal Kuwaiti bourgeoisie, remembers above all that “women return to the National Assembly”. The chamber will indeed have two deputies out of a total of fifty elected. Women had won the right to vote and stand as a candidate in 2005, but had failed to get elected in the previous ballot in 2020.
The same newspaper summarizes the other major lessons of the election, including in particular a “strategic success” for the Muslim Brotherhood, of which three candidates managed to get elected, in addition to two other elected sympathizers of their movement. The Salafists have made a strong comeback in the Assembly, with five deputies. The Shiites are also progressing, winning nine seats, against six in the last election.