Constituency switch … electoral ‘tactics’ for a seat in Parliament

KUWAIT CITY, Nov 19, (KUNA): Many candidates contesting parliamentary elections due on Nov 26 have employed numerous strategies and ploys to maximize their chances of winning a much coveted seat in Parliament. One maneuver that has been in vogue in the run up to this year’s election is something known as the, “constituency switch” where candidates would file their candidacies in a new constituency in a bid to increase the likelihood of success.

However, this ploy certainly requires shrewdness on the part of the candidate, where a thorough study of the lineups of each constituency is needed, in addition to a shift in ideologies to cater to the needs and wishes of the electorates in each constituency. Moreover, another reason for the constituency switch is instability or forms of chicanery that have plagued some constituencies, most notably, reports of “unlawful consultations” in some constituencies have become commonplace. Furthermore, two Kuwaiti academics reasoned that there is more to the constituency switch than mere aspirations of success. “Social and political factors reflective of strife amongst rivaling tribes, families and sects figure into things,” they said. Speaking to KUNA, sociology professor at Kuwait University (KU) Ali Al-Zaabi noted that a candidate’s move from one constituency to another usually involves tribal, familial and intellectual reasons. Kuwaiti society, Al-Zaabi noted, is governed by rigid social and familial values that determine how appealing or acceptable a candidate is found to be. “A social obligation is thrust upon a candidate when he makes the move from one constituency to another,” he added.

Meanwhile, professor of communications at KU Dr Abdurrazzaq Al-Shayji told KUNA that the constituency switch first emerged in the 1980s, where candidates typically favor contesting elections in a constituency that is void intellectual, tribal, economic and sectarian unrest. “When candidates move to another constituency, it is because they don’t like their chances of success,” Al-Shayji said. However, he underscored that candidates need to make major tweaks to their election campaigns in order to connect with a new electorate. “Some candidates make the switch on grounds of preventing rivals from winning a seat in Parliament,” he said. Candidates with the greatest chances of success are those who have the ability to sway voters with enticing suggestions and campaign promises, he pointed out. Meanwhile, as parliamentary candidates across the nation scramble to woo voters just a week away from elections on Nov 26, there is a segment of society these hopefuls might have forgotten about, the deaf-mute.

Though highly overlooked, it would only bode well for a candidate to have this segment of the population on his or her side. With lofty promises and catchy slogans being an inextricable part of many of this year’s election campaigns, the absence of sign language is easily palpable as candidates step up election rhetoric as we near Election Day.

Moreover, the deaf-mute are left to question whether the parliamentary candidates have failed to take them into consideration, which risks alienating a segment that could prove decisive in determining the outcome of this election, in the event of a close race in any of the electoral constituencies. In an attempt to find out if the absence of sign language has caused this segment of the population to stand aloof as it relates to the upcoming elections, KUNA interviewed Jaber Al-Kanderi, a member of this community and an official at the Asia-Pacific Deaf Sports Confederation (APDSC). “Most, if not all of the candidates have failed to include sign language as part of their election campaigns,” Al-Kandari said, jotting down his words on a piece of paper. Meanwhile, when asked which one of the candidates he can most relate to, Al-Kanderi, who is mute, is visibly “indifferent”.

“This election to me is no different than any of the past ones,” he quipped. “I haven’t been to any of these election seminars because I would not have a clue what the candidate is trying to convey to the voters.” An avid gym-goer, Al-Kanderi spoke of how helpful social media has been to familiarize the deaf-mute community with all of the latest election happenings and the different ideologies of the candidates contesting the elections. “The meteoric growth of social media has certainly paid ultimate dividends for us,” he said. Furthermore, the APDSC official described himself as a fervent social media user, noting that most candidates promulgate their thoughts and goals on their Twitter accounts. “I have come across many Twitter accounts belonging to some of the prominent names in this year’s election,” he said, adding that with the growth of social media, candidates can communicate with the electorate online.

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