HOME -> PARLINE -> KUWAIT (Majles Al-Ommah)
Print this pagePrint this page
PARLINE database new searchNew search
Majles Al-Ommah (National Assembly)

Compare data for parliamentary chambers in the Last elections module

A historical Archive of past election results for this chamber can be found on a separate page

Parliament name (generic / translated) Majles Al-Ommah / National Assembly
Structure of parliament Unicameral
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 however 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.

In 2009 210 candidates 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 175 679 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.
Voter turnout
Round no 116 May 2009
Number of registered electors
Blank or invalid ballot papers
Valid votes

Distribution of votes
Round no 1
Distribution of seats
Round no 1
Distribution of seats according to sex
Percent of women
Distribution of seats according to age
Distribution of seats according to profession
Source: http://www.kuna.net.kw/

Copyright 1996-2012 Inter-Parliamentary Union