Kuwait: Politics in a Participatory Emirate

Paper Carnegie Endowment
Summary
Kuwait has made exemplary strides towards democratic reform over the last two years, but deep tensions between the ruling Al Sabah family and the parliament, as well as fractures within the political opposition, could hinder future progress, according to a new paper from the Carnegie Endowment. 
Related Topics
Related Media and Tools
 

Kuwait has made exemplary strides towards democratic reform over the last two years, but deep tensions between the ruling Al Sabah family and the parliament, as well as fractures within the political opposition, could hinder future progress, according to a new paper from the Carnegie Endowment. 

In the last two years women were given the right to vote, a law banning public gatherings was overturned, restrictions on new media outlets were curbed, and a key election has brought about important electoral system reform.  In Kuwait: Politics in a Participatory Emirate, Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center, examines these recent reform successes in Kuwait and points to key areas for further advancement and hindrances to future reforms.

Key findings:

• The opposition alliance that brought about sweeping electoral reform is weak and shows signs of splintering.  Major differences exist between factions in the opposition, particularly between Islamist and non-Islamists, who disagree over the role of Islam in the political system and society.

• Although Parliament is enjoying newfound power, it lacks the political institutions to evaluate and recommend sound domestic policies.  Increased fighting within Parliament has derailed policies without proposing alternatives.

• Regional instability, not domestic reversal, remains Kuwait’s greatest threat due to its geographic position—a small country among large neighbors in an explosive corner of the world.

• Participatory and constitutional politics are deeply rooted in Kuwaiti history—reform has not been imported from abroad, nor is it an ill-fitting vestige of colonial influence. The constitution is viewed as the backbone of the system and is not to be manipulated or disregarded, like constitutions in much of the region.  On the other hand, reformers are reluctant to push for some changes that require amending the constitution, limiting the debate on reform.

• Oil remains Kuwait’s sole economic driving force and the dominance of the state in this sector means that the bulk of the population is comfortably employed by the state—contributing to apathy in society and protecting the status quo.  However, oil income accrues to the Kuwaiti state, not to the ruling family, and thus dependence on the oil sector does not mean dependence on the Sabah family.

“While Arab republics have regressed into military or one-party dictatorships or collapsed into failed states, and even recently promising Arab monarchies like Jordan have pulled back from real democratic accommodation and empowerment, Kuwait increasingly stands out as an important, even if imperfect, example,” writes Salem.

A limited number of print copies of this Carnegie Paper are available.
Request a copy
 

 

About the Author
Paul Salem is the director of the Carnegie Middle East Center.  He previously served as the director of the Fares Foundation, and was founder and director of the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies, Lebanon’s leading public policy think tank.

 

End of document
 
Source http://carnegie-mec.org/2007/07/16/kuwait-politics-in-participatory-emirate/b3ro

In Fact

 

81%

of Brazilian protesters

learned about a massive rally via Facebook or Twitter.

32

million cases pending

in India’s judicial system.

1 in 3

Syrians

now needs urgent assistance.

370

political parties

contested India’s last national elections.

70%

of Egypt's labor force

works in the private sector.

58

years ago

Carnegie began an internship program. Notable alumni include Samantha Power.

70%

of oil consumed in the United States

is for the transportation sector.

20%

of Chechnya’s pre-1994 population

has fled to different parts of the world.

58%

of oil consumed in China

was from foreign sources in 2012.

50%

of Syria’s population

is expected to be displaced by the end of 2013.

20

million people killed

in Cold War conflicts.

18%

of the U.S. economy

is consumed by healthcare.

$536

billion in goods and services

traded between the United States and China in 2012.

$100

billion in foreign investment and oil revenue

have been lost by Iran because of its nuclear program.

4700%

increase in China’s GDP per capita

between 1972 and today.

$11

billion have been spent

to complete the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran.

2%

of Iran’s electricity needs

is all the Bushehr nuclear reactor provides.

82

new airports

are set to be built in China by 2015.

78

journalists

were imprisoned in Turkey as of August 2012 according to the OSCE.

67%

of the world's population

will reside in cities by 2050.

16

million Russian citizens

are considered “ethnic Muslims.”

Stay in the Know

Enter your email address to receive the latest Carnegie analysis in your inbox!

Personal Information
 
 
Carnegie Middle East Center
 
Emir Bechir Street, Lazarieh Tower Bldg. No. 2026 1210, 5th flr. Downtown Beirut, P.O.Box 11-1061 Riad El Solh, Lebanon
Phone: +961 1 99 12 91 Fax: +961 1 99 15 91
Please note...

You are leaving the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy's website and entering another Carnegie global site.

请注意...

你将离开清华—卡内基中心网站,进入卡内基其他全球中心的网站。