Women enter Kuwait parliament

Women enter Kuwait parliament

The voters, angered over the political turmoil that has shaken the country’s political system over the last few years, boosted the Shia community and reduced Sunni fundamentalist groups to a minority, besides giving women four seats in the 50-member legislature.

The two mainstream fundamentalist Sunni groups won just three seats compared with the seven they held in the outgoing parliament. Their tribal allies got eight seats. The Liberals and their allies improved their tally by one seat to eight, while the Nationalist Bloc got just one.

The two main winners were Shias. They doubled their strength from five to nine seats. The winners included women as well. Although more than half of Kuwait’s voters are females, four US-educated women made history by winning the first seats held by their sex in the Kuwaiti parliament.

Liberals Massuma al-Mubarak, Aseel al-Awadhi and Rula Dashti and Independent Salwa al-Jassar hold doctorate degrees. Sixteen women were among 210 candidates who stood for the parliament.

Even as the strength of the Liberals increased in the new legislature, conservatives remain in control of parliament, as the 11 seats won by Muslim fundamentalists and their allies, combined with the 25 seats secured by various tribes, make a comfortable majority.

This could result in a confrontation with the ruling al-Sabah family, which has become more progressive and pro-US than parliament. Political analyst Nasser al-Abdali observed the membership of the new government, appointed by the emir, will have to reflect the make-up of parliament.

Most members of the outgoing parliament who had castigated the emir-appointed government for causing confrontations have been re-elected. Early elections were called after Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahamd al-Sabah dissolved parliament in March during a standoff between legislators and the government. Although many new members of parliament oppose a multi-billion-dollar economic stimulus package implemented by the government, the legislature will be asked to provide retrospective approval for the measure.
DH News Service

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