• “Boycott” Elections Distill Kuwait’s Divisions

    On December 1 Kuwait held its second parliamentary election in ten months following the court-imposed dissolution of a strongly oppositional parliament last June.  Instead of the usual selection among Kuwait’s liberal nationalist, Islamist, tribal populist, and independent candidates, the choice this time was more stark:  vote or boycott?   In the months since October, when Kuwait’s Emir Sabah al-Ahmed issued an emergency decree altering the country’s electoral system, Kuwait’s fractious political movements have united in opposition.  They held protest marches attended by tens of thousands in an effort to pressure the Emir to rescind the edict, and, failing at that, organized boycott committees in an attempt to deprive the new parliament of its legitimacy. 
    Read More
  • Another Election “Crisis” in Kuwait

    Kuwait has more experience with elections than any other country in the Gulf and more than most countries in the Middle East and North Africa.  Its tiny population of eligible voters (currently around 400,000) has been going to the polls since 1975, and the number of crises involving the ruling al-Sabah family and the 50 elected members of the Kuwaiti parliament easily equals the number of elections.  Despite an up-tic in public demonstrations in Kuwait, the notion that the Arab spring suddenly found its way to Kuwait this year or last does not withstand the most casual analysis; Kuwait’s continuing political crisis has various uniquely Kuwaiti characteristics.  Here are a few things to watch for in the aftermath of the December 1 elections.
    Read More