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Will early elections backfire on Kuwait's government?

The Kuwaiti emir's dissolution of parliament could come back to haunt the ruling family.
Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah addresses a plenary meeting of the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015 at the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan, New York September 26, 2015.  More than 150 world leaders are expected to attend the three day summit to formally adopt an ambitious new sustainable development agenda, according to a U.N. press statement. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri - RTX1SMRP

Citing unspecified “regional circumstances” and “security challenges,” Emir Sabah al-Ahmad Al Sabah exercised his authority to dissolve the country’s colorful, dynamic and vibrant National Assembly, the institution that makes Kuwait the most democratic member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). For Kuwaitis, his Oct. 16 act is nothing new. Since the country’s parliamentary life began in 1962, the emir dissolved the parliament on eight previous occasions: in 1976, 1986, 1999, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012. Only six elected parliaments have lasted full terms. With the latest dissolution, Kuwaitis are now preparing for elections on Nov. 26, instead of in July 2017.

This time around, with cheap oil plaguing Kuwait’s economic health and violent extremists posing a threat, the emir declared that Kuwait must turn “to the people, the source of authority, to choose their representatives who express their aspirations.” Parliament Speaker Marzouq al-Ghanim, hailed the emir’s decree as a “praiseworthy democratic practice.” Below the surface, however, tensions are mounting in the political arena.

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