|Parliament name (generic / translated)
||Majles Al-Ommah / National Assembly
|Structure of parliament
|Dates of election / renewal (from/to)
||16 May 2009
|Purpose of elections
||Elections were held for the elective seats in the National Assembly following a premature dissolution of this body on 18 March 2009. Elections had previously been held on 17 May 2008.
|On 18 March 2009
Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah dissolved the National Assembly due to a standoff between parliament and the executive over the latter's response to the recent global economic crisis as well as alleged financial impropriety in the Prime Minister's Office. On 14 April
the Emir issued a decree calling early elections for 17 May
the third in less than three years and only one year after the previous elections.
The National Assembly
the first elected parliament in the Arabian Gulf
was established in 1963. Since 2006
women have been entitled to vote and run for parliamentary elections. However
no women were elected in the 2006 and 2008 elections. In 2008
some of the women candidates were runners-up.
Although political parties and groups are still banned
political "lists" are allowed to function. In 2009
candidates again stood for elections as independents but many of them belong to these lists.
Ninety per cent of Kuwaitis are Muslims (one third are Shiites and two thirds are Sunnis). In the previous elections held in May 2008
Islamists made strong gains
obtaining a total of 26 seats. These members included 10 associated with the Islamic Salafi Alliance (ISA)
which opposes women's participation in politics. The Islamic Constitutional Movement (ICM)
better known as "Hadas"
which is the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood
won three seats. Liberals
including members of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)
a sub-faction of the National Democratic Forum
took seven seats. The NDA
as well as two Shiite lists - the National Islamic Alliance (NIA) and the Justice and Peace Alliance (JPA) - are in favour of women's participation. The Popular Action Bloc (a nationalist list) led by former Speaker Ahmad al-Saadoun
took four seats.
In early 2009
following the global economic crisis that sent oil prices plummeting
the country's leading firms requested a bailout plan. On 3 March
the government submitted a 1.5 million-dinars (US$ 5.12 billion) stimulus package to the National Assembly. Parliamentarians opposed it
arguing that it would not shield ordinary citizens from the crisis.
In March 2009
the ICM members demanded that the Prime Minister
Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah
a nephew of the Emir
answer questions about policy decisions and alleged financial irregularities at his office. Two days before the date of the parliamentary questioning
on 16 March
the Prime Minister resigned - for the fifth time since 2006
when he assumed the post. The Emir asked the outgoing prime minister to act in a caretaker capacity until a new government was formed.
Speculation was high over a possible suspension of the National Assembly. The Emir announced on 18 March that he would be dissolving the National Assembly
promising elections within two months. He criticized the "inappropriate practices" of the outgoing legislature that had "ruined" the cooperation between the legislative and the executive branches. With the dissolution of the National Assembly
the Emir and the caretaker government assumed full legislative powers. On 26 March
the government approved the stimulus package.
including 16 women
were vying for the 50 directly elected seats in the National Assembly
down from 274 candidates
including 28 women
in 2008. Women candidates benefitted from wide media coverage. Prominent candidates included Ms. Maasouma Al-Mubarak
the country's first female minister
and Ms. Aseel Al-Awadhi
a professor at Kuwait University.
Women candidates promised change and reforms
aimed at getting the country out of the economic crisis. Some proposed to amend the law on citizenship so the children of Kuwaiti mothers (in addition to those of Kuwaiti fathers) would be granted Kuwaiti citizenship. Some male candidates also pledged to treat men and women equally
underscoring that the Constitution does not differentiate between sexes. Meanwhile
ISA leader Fuhayd al-Haylam called for a boycott of women candidates
saying that voting for women was a sin.
Other candidates focused on the economy and development
promising to deal with inflation
price increases and unemployment. They added that cooperation between parliament and the executive was the way to get out of the economic and political crises.
No major incidents were reported during the election campaign. However
former parliamentarian Daifallah Buramia was briefly detained along with two other candidates following public speeches in which he allegedly criticized the ruling family.
Over 59 per cent of the nearly 385
000 eligible voters turned out at the polls. Of the eligible voters
679 are men and 209
111 are women.
For the first time
four women were elected. They included Ms. Al-Mubarak and Ms. Al-Awadhi. The latter was elected with the second highest share of the vote (21 per cent) in her constituency.
Overall results gave 11 seats to Sunni Islamists
down from 21. The ISA and the ICM saw their share reduced to two seats and one seat respectively. Shiite members took nine seats
up from five. Liberals took eight seats
up from seven. Candidates from six tribal groupings won a total of 20 seats. In all
29 outgoing members retained their seats.
On 31 May
the newly elected National Assembly held its first session and re-elected Mr. Jassem M. Al-Kharafi as its Speaker.
In the meantime
on 21 May
the Emir reappointed Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah as Prime Minister. The 16-member cabinet included one woman. Since cabinet members sit in parliament as ex officio members
the number of women members of parliament increased to five.
|Round no 1||16 May 2009
|Number of registered electors
Blank or invalid ballot papers
| Distribution of votes
|Distribution of seats
|Distribution of seats according to sex
Percent of women
|Distribution of seats according to age
|Distribution of seats according to profession