A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, May 15, 2009

Kuwait Votes Tomorrow

Tomorrow (Saturday, May 16) is the date of the Kuwaiti Parliamentary Elections. I realize I haven't said much about Kuwait since the dissolution of Parliament and my early analyses, the latest of which was dated March 20.

In part, I haven't commented again because I think the earlier posts pretty much depict the problem: the stalemate between Parliament and the Goverment was not alleviated by earlier dissolutions and new elections; and now we will have the second vote in a year and the third in three. The stalemate doesn't seem likely to be broken. (In fact, the authorities in April arrested one former MP — I think Parliamentary immunity ended with dissolution — for criticizing a royal.)

Kuwait does not have political parties as such, though there are factions that function rather like parties representing Arab nationalists, Islamists (separate Sunni and Shi‘i factions), etc. and the big tribes tend to elect their own to form tribal blocs. As a result there will be no easy "who won and who lost" analysis available until the various factions start forming alliances. This is the third round of elections in three years; will third time be a charm? I'm still skeptical, but I'm no expert on Kuwait.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The functionality of the new National Assembly will be contingent on the outcome for the Tribals and Islamists. If the Assembly swings to the left and a multiplicity of liberals, Shi'a and pro-regime are elected it is possible it could last. If the Islamist and Tribals return to their seats it will be the same game all over again. The goal is to find an assembly that wont be obstructionist and can work with the regime.