KUWAIT
Parliamentary Chamber: Majles Al-Ummah

ELECTIONS HELD IN 1996

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Chamber:
  Majles Al-Ummah


Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  7 October 1996


Purpose of elections:

  Elections were held for the 50 elective seats of Parliament on the normal expiry of the members' term of office. An Amiri decree approved by the Cabinet on 1 September called for the elections to the National Assembly to be held on 7 October.


Background and outcome of elections:

  Of Kuwait's approximately 770,000 citizens, only some 107,000 were eligible to vote - that is about 7% of the country's population but nevertheless some 25% more eligibilities than for the previous poll in October 1992.

Altogether 230 male candidates (including 41 incumbents) contested the 50 National Assembly seats. While political parties are not permitted in the country and candidates thus run as independents, several traditional groupings or quasi-political organisations exist; these include the Liberal Democratic Forum, the moderate Islamic Constitutional Movement, the fundamentalist National Islamic Coalition and the Popular Islamic Rally. Campaign oratory centred primarily on domestic issues, especially economic reform, social questions and the misuse of public funds by certain authorities; there were also a number of "service candidates" who vowed to secure in an efficient manner the services needed by the electorate. The pre-election period was moreover marked by gatherings of women demanding political rights, including the suffrage.

On polling day, pro-Government candidates won out over their rivals, contrary to the previous elections when opposition liberals made a good showing. Overall voter turnout was high and approximately half of the successful candidates were newcomers to the Assembly.

The production of petroleum and its derivatives continues to be by far the most important industry in Kuwait, providing over 90% of its export revenue. Since 1977, the Head of State or Amir has been Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah; Crown Prince Sheikh Saad Al-Abdullah Al-Salim Al-Sabah heads the Council of Ministers as Prime Minister.

The newly elected National Assembly held its first meeting on 20 October, when it elected its Speaker.

STATISTICS
Round no 1 (7 October 1996): Elections results  
Number of registered electors 107,169
Voters 80% (approx)

Round no 1: Distribution of seats  
Political Group Total
Pro-Government Deputies 19
Shi'ite, Sunni, Muslim fundamentalists, islamic Deputies 14
Liberals 6
Independents and tribal candidates 11

Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 50
Women: 0


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Copyright 1996 Inter-Parliamentary Union