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Kuwaiti Elections: A Chance for Real Change?

Featured speakers: Shaikha Al-Hashem, Dr. Ghanim Alnajjar, Dr. Courtney Freer, Mohammad Khlef Althunayyan, and Dr. Daniel Tavana.


Several months after the political crisis in Kuwait, the crown prince Shaikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al Sabah announced an Amiri decree to dissolve the current session of the country’s parliament, indicating that it would be resumed after early elections on September 28. The Amiri decree to dissolve parliament and hold new elections springs from enduring tensions between the legislative and executive branches, similar in many ways to previous political clashes that stalled the country’s political life and undermined its public functions.

The new Amiri decree marks the tenth time that the Kuwaiti leader has dissolved parliament since the country’s first elections. In spite of this track record, many Kuwaitis are hopeful that the upcoming elections will bring a serious change to the legislative branch, and will lead to smoother collaboration between the parliament and the government. Several recent government decisions have led to optimism in this regard, including the appointment of a new prime minister, Sheikh Ahmad Nawaf al-Sabah, government efforts to end “tribal primaries” that unfairly allow tribes to coordinate their votes, and efforts to balance the relationship between the executive and legislative branches.

Who is likely to win Kuwait’s upcoming election? How could the opposition blocs change their agenda and behavior to win more seats? Will factions within Kuwait, such as Islamists, gain or lose seats in the upcoming elections? Will female candidates have a better chance? What changes are likely to occur in the balance of power between the legislative branch and the new prime minister?

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