June 2023 | Kuwaitis elect another opposition-led parliament, raising fears of continued deadlock
Kuwaitis voting in the country’s snap general election on 6 June elected a parliament in which opposition candidates (those not tied to Kuwait’s ruling family) hold 29 of the National Assembly’s 50 elected seats. The election was called after the Constitutional Court annulled the results of the September 2022 election in March 2023 and reinstated the previous parliament, which was in turn dissolved on 1 May 2023. The composition of the new parliament is similar to the one elected in 2022 (37 members retained their seat) and has given rise to concerns that it will mean a continuation of the deadlock between an assertive, elected parliament and the Emir-appointed government, which has paralysed the country’s politics. Only one female MP was elected, down from two in 2022. Women’s rights activists have attributed the decline to the growing influence of tribal and Islamist MPs. Voter turnout was 59.3 per cent (up from 50 per cent in 2022).
November 2022 | Execution of seven prisoners draws widespread condemnation
In the first use of the death penalty in Kuwait since 2017 (when seven people were killed), seven convicted individuals were killed by Kuwaiti authorities in a mass execution on 16 November. Only four were Kuwaiti nationals; the others were from Pakistan, Syria, and Ethiopia. All seven had been convicted of murder. The use of the death penalty has prompted international condemnation from the United Nations, European Union and Amnesty International, with the United Nations Human Rights Office spokesperson describing it as a “deeply regrettable step backwards by the Kuwaiti authorities.”
September 2022 | Election boycott ended but election candidates arrested
Legislative elections were held in Kuwait on 29 September. For the first time in a decade, they took place with the participation of opposition candidates, who ended a boycott that began over concerns of election integrity. Changes to electoral rules, which had the stated intention of preventing vote buying and manipulation, were introduced ahead of these elections. Opposition candidates now constitute 33 of the 50-member National Assembly. Notable too was the fact that two women MPs were elected - the preceding legislature was all male, although there have previously been women MPs. Voter turnout was approximately 50 per cent, down from 60 per cent in the last legislative elections in 2020. Prior to the election, three candidates were arrested for participating in a peaceful protest over the status of the Bedoon community, a stateless Arab minority in the country.