Kuwait’s Elections: History Repeating Itself?

Article Summary
Abdel Latif al-Duaij warns that Kuwait’s new National Assembly will likely see its share of corruption and backroom dealing between religious figures, tribal leaders and the authorities. He notes, however, that similar circumstances following elections in 1981 proved temporary, and believes that Kuwait can again avoid being “dragged into the abyss”.

The results of the National Assembly's elections have not come as a surprise. However, back in 1981, the resounding defeat of the National Democratic Party was a real shock. Today, Kuwait's recent elections [have resulted in a similar defeat]. The only difference is that in 1981, the [defeat] was the result of an alliance between merchants, religious leaders and the authorities. Today, religious leaders have allied with tribesmen, [or potentially in some cases] the authorities. Nevertheless, whatever the alliances, the new National Assembly will not drag Kuwait into the abyss.

The assembly will, however, face many impediments to its progress. There will be those who funnel the large sums of money generated by high oil prices into persuading [MPs] and buying their representation, as they lack plans for development or measures for reform to offer instead [of cash]. In this manner, they will attempt to hinder the assembly's work. The religious leaders, on the other hand, have no cards to play other than to obstruct the authority's desire to turn Kuwait into a financial hub.

Those who believe that the opposition will grow stronger in the current assembly are mistaken. The opposition's [ability to] act depends on the government's policy and the strategy it implements to achieve development and diversify its sources of income. The government is able to eliminate the current opposition by working in concert with the religious and tribal majority within the assembly and working together in order to uphold the government's policies throughout the country.

Thus the opposition will be defeated, just as was the case in 1986 when the assembly was once again restored to balance.

Mr. Mohamed Saker and Marzouk al-Ghanim of the National Alliance will find themselves in a difficult position in light of [revelations that they are] controlled by religious and tribal elements. Perhaps they will be left with no other choice but to ally with Nabil Mohammed al-Juwaihel and Nabil al-Fadel on many occasions, thus losing their national and parliamentary credibility. I believe it would be in their best interest not to take the oath and instead withdraw [from the assembly]. They would thus save themselves the trouble of the inevitable resignations that will soon [be forced upon them].


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