Kuwaiti Elections: Advancement for Women, Retreat for Islamists

Kuwaiti Elections: Advancement for Women, Retreat for Islamists

The first official results of yesterday’s elections for the 50th Kuwaiti National Assembly showed the victory of four female candidates for the first time in Kuwaiti parliament history. The elections had witnessed competition between 210 candidates, including 16 women.  


The four women are:  Massouma Al-Mubarak for the first district, Salwa El-Jassar for the second, and Aseel El-‘Awadhy and Rola Dashti for the third.  This was the third elections in which Kuwaiti women, who comprise 54% of the Kuwaiti electorate (385,000 men and women) participated in terms of voting and candidacy.


Also, since the law issued in the year 2005 allowing women to vote and run for elections, three women had occupied ministerial posts including Ma’souma El-Mubarak who held the position of Minister of Planning and Administrative Development in 2005 to become the country’s first female cabinet minister.


Islamists Retreat


On the other hand, election results also showed a clear retreat for Islamic trends, primarily the Islamic Constitutional Movement (ICM) who, out of its eight candidates, only two succeeded: Gom’an El-Harbash and Falah Mutlaq El-Sawagh.  The ICM also lost one seat from the previous parliament. 


ICM spokesperson Musa’id El-Dhafiry interpreted this retreat saying, “The current elections witnessed intensified anti-propagation campaigns which largely targeted Islamists through organized media campaigns launched by a few satellite channels and daily newspapers who devoted themselves to serving the aims of some powerful figures who see the movement as an obstacle in their way towards achieving their personal interests.”


Election results also showed the advancement of Kuwaiti Shiites who won six seats including five for the first district, which is considered a main stronghold for Shiites in Kuwait. 


Observers expect that the rate of change in the new Kuwaiti parliament will be around 45%.  Analysts also expect Islamic trends to lose some seats which could promote the position of liberals, but will not, most likely, be sufficient to end Islamist control over the parliament.


Kuwait was the first gulf state to adopt a democratic, parliamentary, and constitutional system in 1962 but, since then, the Kuwaiti parliament was dissolved or suspended six times.

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Kuwait Women, Shiites in Vote Gains