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Kuwait’s National Assembly Elections Kick off amid Hope to ‘Correct the Path’

A view shows the first parliament session held after elections, in Kuwait City, Kuwait December 15, 2020. REUTERS/Stephanie McGehee/File Photo/File Photo

Kuwaiti voters are heading to the polls Thursday to elect members of the National Assembly, with the hope of achieving the needed change in the country.

The current elections are held under the slogan, “Correcting the course”, in reference to the famous speech of the Crown Prince, Sheikh Mishaal Al-Ahmad Al Sabah, who had called on the people of Kuwait to correct the political path.

The eligible voters will choose 50 deputies from among 305 male and female candidates in a polling process conducted according to the single electoral vote system.

Hours before the start of the voting, Kuwaiti citizens told Asharq Al-Awsat they hoped that the current elections would bring about fundamental change in the legislative council, and provide an opportunity for young men and women to reach Parliament.

Optimism prevailed in the country, especially following a speech by the Kuwaiti crown prince, who called for change and pledged to prevent the government from interfering with the voting process or choosing a speaker for the National Assembly.

The government has also taken a set of measures to prevent political money and limit the influence of tribal forces, by fighting by-elections, as well as registering voters based on the civil ID, which prevents the purchase and transfer of votes.

Women and youth benefit from these measures that limit the hegemony of powerful financial and tribal forces from controlling the council. However, observers still believe that Kuwaiti women face a strong challenge to prove their presence in the elections.

In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, Minister of Information and Culture and Minister of State for Youth Affairs Abdul Rahman Al-Mutairi said that the speech delivered by the Crown Prince on behalf of the Emir represented a road map for the government and political forces in the country.

The Kuwait Transparency Society stated that 91 observers would monitor the National Assembly elections to ensure their integrity and transparency.

The ministry of Education announced that the Interior ministry has selected 123 schools to be polling centers, distributed among all electoral districts. According to the official Al-Jarida newspaper, the number of registered voters is 795,920.

The elections are expected to result in a fundamental shift in the formation of the legislative authority, coinciding with the arrival of a new prime minister, Sheikh Ahmed Nawaf Al-Ahmad. The country is awaiting cooperation between the two authorities to address outstanding issues, especially economic reforms and the fight against corruption.

Prior to the elections, the government showed firmness in dealing with some corruption files, by combating vote transfers and manipulation of voters’ lists.

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