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Kuwait Politics

State and politics

Kuwait gained full independence in 1961. The following year, a constitution was adopted giving the emir the executive power. The key positions in the government are held by members of the royal family. The legislative power formally has Parliament (50 members), which the emir can, however, dissolve. This has happened several times, for example in 1986 after a constitutional crisis caused by criticism of the government. A new parliament was elected in October 1992. Political parties are banned. The right to vote has been severely limited to literate men among the "genuine" Kuwaiti, whose families have lived in Kuwait since 1920. Military and police are exempt. The many guest workers, about 60% of the population of the Iraq invasion of 1990, lack virtually civil rights. At the 1981 election, 6.4% of the population was entitled to vote and in 1985 even fewer.

Political System of Kuwait

Kuwait's state of affairs can be described as patriarchal or as an enlightened despotism with the power concentrated on the emir and his family, Al Sabah. However, it has been characterized by a traditional pursuit of consensus between the original clans and mutually dependent on them, as well as by a greater openness and pluralism than in most other Arab countries, even after 1986. More important than the formal policy is not only the economy with the huge oil revenues, which have benefited all Kuwaiti people, but also informal contacts and old family and clan ties. Only recently has the old system seriously and to a greater extent begun to be called into question. In particular, women are active in the struggle for a democratic system. The Emir promised political reform in the aftermath of the 1991 Kuwait War. The 1992 parliamentary elections meant that those who wanted reform came to form a majority in Parliament. However, they lost it to more faithful politicians in the 1996 elections.

During the 2000s, Parliament was dissolved several times. Two clear trends can be seen, on the one hand, more radical Islamic representatives have become stronger and gained great influence in parliament, and on the other, women have moved forward their positions. In 2005, Parliament passed a law on women's suffrage and in June that year the first female minister in the country was appointed. Only at the 2009 elections did three women manage to get elected to Parliament. The same year, it was decided that women have the right to obtain their own passports without the permission of their husbands and that women no longer have to wear a veil in public places. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how KW can stand for Kuwait.

When the US-British invasion of Iraq began in 2003, Kuwait supported it, and tens of thousands of soldiers were taken across the border to remove Saddam Hussein. Several other Arab states were opposed to the invasion, including Saudi Arabia.

The contradictions in Kuwaiti society have not waned. On the one hand, the conflicts continue on the constitution, and on the view of the regime. In 2010, young people clashed with the police and in 2011 demonstrated hundreds of young people after the start of the Arab Spring. When the more radical Islamic representatives again won the parliamentary elections in 2012, the emir dissolved the parliament and in the last parliamentary elections in December 2012, the elections were boycotted by groups who considered that the new electoral laws introduced disadvantaged them and favored the regime's representatives.

Judiciary

Before 1959, Kuwait lacked a developed legal system. During the years 1959-64, the legal system was modernized and codified, mainly under the participation of Egyptian lawyers. The reform resulted in several comprehensive legislation, inspired by both Islamic and Western law. The highest courts are the Cassation Court and the Constitutional Court. The death penalty is punished for some serious crimes.

Human Rights

On May 18, 2011, Kuwait was elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council, which was criticized on the grounds that Kuwait would not be considered qualified because of the country's Sharia law.

A major problem is Kuwait's handling of the large proportion of people who work as black labor, often under slave-like conditions. Guest workers make up about 60 percent of the workforce in the country and many work in private households.

Kuwaiti citizens generally have good access to employment, health care and education, welfare to which the approximately 100,000 stateless people from the population group of Bidunas, who have lived in the country for generations, usually do not have access.

Demonstrations initiated by bidder with demands for extended rights have been turned down by authorities. The group is increasingly excluded and is increasingly being treated as illegal residents.

In practice, free movement is only guaranteed to citizens, which excludes stateless and guest workers.

In 2012, the Kuwaiti Morality Police arrested hundreds of young people when they were deemed to have performed immoral activities. The arrests took place through raids in private homes. The additions have been interpreted as a result of a change in the penal code that criminalizes imitating the appearance of the opposite sex.

Since 2007, the number of arbitrary detention and cases of abuse, torture, sexual harassment and sexual abuse of transgender persons has also increased significantly. Gay acts are severely punished. The death penalty by hanging is applied in public for serious crimes.

Discrimination against women is widespread and family law is based on patriarchal Sharia law where the woman has no right to self-determination. Kuwaiti law also prohibits the marriage of Kuwaiti women with foreign men. The country lacks laws that prohibit domestic violence, sexual harassment and marital rape. The penalty for abortion is ten years in prison.

Most media is censored and journalists generally self-censor topics that deal with the royal family, the emir, Islam and sexual content. In Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index for 2015, Kuwait was ranked 90 out of 180 countries surveyed.

Heads of State

Emirs

1961-65 Abd Allah as-Salim as-Sabah
1965-77 Sabah as-Salim as-Sabah
1977-2006 Jabir al-Ahmad as-Sabah
2006- Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jabir as-Sabah
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