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Kuwaitis head to vote again

207 candidates in fray * 793,646 citizens eligible to vote * 1,157 judges to supervise polls

By B Izzak

KUWAIT: Kuwaiti voters head to the polls on Tuesday for the third time since December 2020 to elect a new parliament they hope will put an end to almost two decades of non-stop political disputes, which have stalled development despite huge revenues from oil. The elections, the seventh in just the last 11 years, were called after HH the Amir dissolved the National Assembly elected in 2020 for the second time after the constitutional court reinstated it following its first dissolution.

The Assembly was dissolved for the first time in August last year due to disputes between MPs and the government. Snap polls were then held in September 2022, in which the opposition scored a resounding victory. However, the constitutional court nullified the election on March 19 after finding that the decree which dissolved the Assembly breached the constitution. It also reinstated the 2020 Assembly. Since 2003, the Kuwaiti parliament has completed its four-year full term only once, between 2016 and 2020.

During the same period, it was dissolved or annulled by the constitutional court on seven occasions. The Cabinet, which is always led by a senior member of the ruling family, was changed more frequently. Some 793,646 citizens are eligible to vote. They include 406,895 females or 51.3 percent of the electorate, and 386,751 men (48.7 percent). As many as 207 candidates, including 13 women, are contesting the 50-seat National Assembly. The number of candidates is much lower than the 305 hopefuls who took part in the previous elections in September last year.

They include 55 former MPs from previous assemblies and as many as 46 members of the scrapped 2022 Assembly. The ballots open at 8.00 am and close 12 hours later. Voting will take place at some 118 centers spread across the six governorates. Initial results are not expected before midnight on Tuesday. Some 1,157 judges will supervise the elections, which will be monitored by local civil societies. Hundreds of police have been deployed to watch the voting process.

Kuwait is divided into five electoral constituencies, with each electing 10 MPs. Campaigning this time has primarily focused on trying to convince voters to vote, as people feel increasingly frustrated with the turn of events and frequent voting. There were fewer rallies compared to previous polls and many candidates did not even set up their election headquarters. Campaigning only gained some steam in the last few days, when candidates started attacking each other and criticizing the government.

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