Tensions rise as elections near ‘New faces’ expected

KUWAIT CITY, Nov 26: With the elections quickly approaching, anticipation as well as tensions have grown on the Kuwaiti streets, with many people still leading the charge on the appeal to boycotting on one hand, while equally a great number still insist on the importance of voting, referring to the upcoming elections as a celebration of democracy.

Pro-government voters and candidates alike have continuously reiterated that while it is an inalienable right to boycott elections, this however does not affect the inalienable right to vote itself, and that the legitimacy of the elections still stand.

Nasser Al-Merri, candidate in the 5th Constituency and investment expert, stated that he expects these polls to be historical, and a major landmark in Kuwait’s history, marking H.H. the Amir’s triumph.
“I expect that the next parliament will be a youthful parliament with many new faces working towards ensuring Kuwait’s future. Furthermore, it will be empty of external agendas, as well as tribal and sectarian ones, and the only agenda that will be a priority will be Kuwait.

“This parliament will be recorded in history as the parliament of progress and accomplishment for the next four years, and will work towards the improvement of the social and political life of all Kuwaitis.”
Regarding those who are opposed to the elections, he stated, “This is a democracy first and foremost. People have a right to partake in the elections or not to partake as they please. Just as boycotting is a right, so to is voting, and in the end I am sure people will partake and do what is right for the country.”
However, there are many who foresee a very different outcome of events, and hopes are still high that the turnout for these elections will be low; though how this will affect the situation is unclear.

Renowned political and women’s rights activist Lulwa Al-Mulla, stated that she is personally boycotting the elections for various personal reasons, and that she predicts that the upcoming parliament will be a very ineffective one, and moreover an ill-reputed one, with a bad reputation that surpasses that of the notorious National Council that was elected in 1990.

With regards to the position of women in the upcoming assembly, she stated that she does not sympathize with any of the female candidates whose names have come up in this election. “It makes no difference to me whether they win or not,” she continued, “I don’t think they will positively affect the position of women in the upcoming parliament or alter anything with their presence.”

She added that boycotting the elections “is not simply a question of lack of trust in the government. It is a question of wanting the voice of the people to be heard, and to let everyone know that we will put a stop to the ridiculousness that has afflicted political life and the meddling that is taking place on the political platform. We want them to know that there are those who will protect the Constitution, and I expect this parliament to be a failure and we will see this in the first sitting.”

Yet the effect of boycotting remains contested, as there is no quota or lower-limit for the turnout to legitimize these elections, and there is a large faction of the opposition that is nonetheless partaking in the elections in order to ensure their representation in this parliament. However, it is equally up for grabs how the newly-decreed one-vote system will affect the chances of opposition members, particularly seeing as a majority vote is required to overturn this decree once the national assembly is instated.


By: Joana Saba Arab Times Staff

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