Kuwaitis were elected… and parliamentarians told Asharq Al-Awsat: The new council will be compatible
With the closing of the polls to elect members of the Kuwaiti National Assembly, “parliament”, on Tuesday evening, the size of participation in these elections, which Kuwaitis rely on to achieve political stability and push for the approval of reform projects, varied.
Some polling stations witnessed a heavy turnout by voters. As the participation rate increased in the last hours before closing, after the weather improved.
Election committee workers told Asharq Al-Awsat that the turnout in their centers touched 60 percent, while others complained moments before closing the centers of low participation. In all, reports indicate that participation exceeded 53 percent without being confirmed by official sources.
Immediately after the voting centers were closed, the process of counting electoral votes began, and the elections, which were monitored by the judiciary and institutions of civil society, were smooth, with the government harnessing all its energy to ensure facilitating voters’ access to the polling stations.
The Emir and the Crown Prince sent telegrams of thanks to senior officials for organizing the (2023 Nation) elections, praising the citizens’ sense of patriotism, embodied in their active participation in exercising their constitutional right.
The Emir and the Crown Prince also expressed their appreciation to the members of the Supreme Judicial Committee supervising the conduct of the elections.
The polling process continued for 12 consecutive hours, starting at eight o’clock on Tuesday morning, in five electoral districts, according to the single electoral vote system, to choose 50 members of the National Assembly from among 207 male and female candidates.
Kuwait witnessed sharp confrontations between the legislative and executive authorities, which led to the disruption of the enactment of economic reform laws, and contributed to the imposition of stalemate on political life. In light of this crisis, Kuwait witnessed three legislative councils during the last four years.
These elections come after the dissolution of the 2020 National Assembly, which was restored by the ruling of the Constitutional Court, a constitutional solution. On March 19, the Constitutional Court issued a ruling annulling the Kuwaiti National Assembly elections 2022, and the return of the speaker and all members of the former National Assembly (Majlis 2020), which was previously dissolved on August 2, 2022.
The forces participating in these elections pushed their full potential to urge voters to participate in order to make the desired change. The 793,646 voters who have the right to vote choose fifty deputies from among 207 candidates, including 15 women, in a polling process that takes place according to the single electoral vote system.
Sparrow: A difficult stage
With the closing of voting centers, the opinions of prominent politicians and analysts differed, with whom Asharq Al-Awsat spoke, as a prominent Kuwaiti politician expressed his opinion that the new council would be more difficult for the prime minister compared to the abolished council of 2022.
While two prominent analysts said that they expect a consensus between the two authorities that will characterize the next stage, after years of worsening political crises, to get out of the state of political crisis that the country went through, and which actually led to the establishment of three legislative councils during the last four years.
In the opinion of the well-known parliamentarian Saud Al-Asfour, the next parliament will be more difficult for Prime Minister Ahmed Al-Nawab than the previous, annulled parliament of 2022, “because of the different nature of the elected representatives.”
Al-Asfoor added in an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat: “The previous council was completely not at odds with Sheikh Ahmed Al-Nawaf, but the next council will include some elements that are believed to be at odds with him.”
He believes that the prime minister has a great responsibility, which is “to come up with a strong government formation capable of dealing with the parliament, so that it forms a work team with a clear plan and vision and capable of achieving some popular achievements that the people feel.”
What differs from the previous experience – in the opinion of the bird – is that the 2022 Council came amid a state of optimism drawn by the Amiri speech, while the next Council comes amid a state of anticipation and anxiety after the political process resulted in cases of annulment and dissolution of the elected Council.
Al-Asfoor assures Asharq Al-Awsat, “The representatives of (Council 2023) have a great responsibility in avoiding previous mistakes made by the legislative authority in the 2022 Council, the most important of which is the absence of priorities and lack of coordination among members.”
And he adds, “There must be coordination prior to the swearing-in session, so that the laws that the reformist deputies consider to be priority and must be approved at an early date, on top of which is the Constitutional Court law and its amendments, so that the annulments are not repeated again.”
Al-Asfoor called on the next government to form a sound formation capable of working as one team based on the action plan presented by the government, with the necessity of understanding with the National Assembly on the priority of the issues raised in a way that guarantees more cooperation.
Obaid Al Wasmi: No need to worry
Former MP and candidate Obaid Al-Wasmi told Asharq Al-Awsat that he does not expect the relationship between the legislative and executive authorities to witness a sharp attraction, as long as the constitution is adhered to. He said in a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat before the closing of the polls: “It does not seem to me that there will be any concern as long as the government adheres to the constitutional standards established by presenting a clear program of action.”
Al-Wasmi added that he does not promise (if he wins this session) to pass the legislative term without tension with the government. He said, “I do not promise anything, because everything is in the hands of the executive body. If the executive authority presents a project that the citizens accept, then the job of the deputies is to be censors of this program.”
Regarding the priorities of the next stage, Al-Wasmi said: “These priorities will not differ from what was previously, from the adoption of the Kuwait document that was presented to the Emir of the country, and we tried as much as possible to win the acceptance of the parties to the political process, and in the coming period, Kuwait needs a different project.”
Immunity: a new opportunity
Kuwaiti academic political analyst, Dr. Ayed Al-Manna, told Asharq Al-Awsat, “The election result appears to be less tense in its dealings with the executive authority than before, in light of the shocks that occurred, such as the annulment and dissolution of the parliament.”
He adds: «There is a desire to calm down and work in light of the program that the government is supposed to present to the National Assembly upon its formation within two weeks, and in light of this program, it is expected that the legislative authority will give the government an opportunity to implement its program with continued follow-up through oversight work and legal legislation, without That there be a desire or parliamentary aspirations to draw attention through interrogations, shows, and threats of no-confidence in the government.
Al-Manna said: “I think that the coming period will be less tense than the previous one, especially since we remember that the Amiri speech delivered by Crown Prince Sheikh Mishaal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah on June 22, 2022 indicated that it is possible if the political situation becomes difficult for reform to resort to more measures.” Influence, and this may lead to options that are not acceptable to the deputies and do not serve the democratic path.
Among those options – in Manna’s opinion – is “resorting to suspending some articles of the constitution and disrupting parliamentary life, even for a while.”
He adds, “Therefore, the necessity calls for a stage of cooperation between the two authorities in the period following the publication of the election results.”
Dashti: Cautious optimism
In a meeting with the candidate in the third constituency, and the political analyst, Dr. Ibrahim Dashti, he told Asharq Al-Awsat that the new council will be in agreement with the government, but it is hoped that the prime minister will present a program compatible with the aspirations of the people.
He added, “We hope, among the outcomes of these elections, that the new cabinet formation will come with a clear strategy that will lead to the making of change. The Kuwaiti street is frustrated, and we do not have time to maintain or increase this frustration, as its consequences are disastrous.
Dashti continued, “Under the current electoral system, parliament is capable of making change, but with limits, because our democracy is relative and not perfect.” He adds, “The constitution gives Kuwaiti legislators (a space for legislation and oversight), and we want this space to be exploited to create reforms.”
Who takes responsibility?
In his meeting with Asharq Al-Awsat, a member of the Group of Seven parliament, Saud Al-Asfour, believes that the parliamentary experience of the annulled parliament “cannot be evaluated because it is an immature and incomplete experience.” He adds: “The 2022 Council represented a golden opportunity, but it was missed for the Kuwaiti people, as there was a state of consensus.” There was a great deal within the parliament, between the members and the presidency, and between the parliament and the government, and the ground was suitable for advancing legislative achievements that could bring about tangible change in the country, but the opportunity was not exploited, so the parliament was suspended from the first month, then the government withdrew from the sessions, until the council was annulled by a court ruling constitutional.
In Al-Asfoor’s opinion, those responsible for the failure of the 2022 Council experiment are the executive and legislative authorities. He says, “The executive authority bears responsibility, but the council also bears responsibility, albeit to a lesser extent.” He explains, saying: “With regard to the legislative authority; The state of relief that accompanied the 2022 Council and the arrival of the largest number of reform-minded deputies led to a lack of desire to create greater coordination among the members.”
But he adds: “The greatest responsibility rests with the executive authority, whose decision was not made clear, with a great discrepancy among the members of the government.”
In response to the statement that the interrogations contributed to straining the relationship between the two authorities, Al-Asfoor said: “The interrogations came after repeated withdrawals from the government, and it came as a reaction and is a result, not a cause.” As for the members’ desire to approve a popular aid package, he said: “Members have the right to They put forward whatever they want, and the government has the constitutional tools to respond to it. In his opinion, the presidency of the National Assembly “is almost settled in favor of Ahmed Al-Saadoun.”