Electoral system family - Kuwait

Electoral system family

Gulf News, Explainer: Everything you need to know about the 2020 Kuwaiti parliamentary elections, accessed 31 December 2020

“This year marks the fourth parliament under the SNTV (Single Non-Transferable Vote) system, it is now apparent, more than ever, how unrepresentative and in cohesive the legislative institution has become because of it,” Abdullah Al Khonaini, a Kuwaiti activist and researcher, told Gulf News.”

Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy, Issue Brief 08.07.2018, The Evolution of the Kuwaiti 'Opposition': Electoral Politics after the Arab Spring, accessed 31 December 2020

“Since parliamentary elections were first held in 1963, Kuwait has used four different non-proportional, plurality (block vote) electoral systems. In plurality electoral systems, electors vote for candidates in multimember electoral districts. Candidates need not obtain a majority of votes in order to win a seat. In 2006, Kuwaiti activists and elements of the then opposition succeeded in reducing the number of electoral districts from 25 two-member districts to 5 ten member districts with partial block (limited) voting. Previously, each elector was given two votes in districts that each elected two candidates. Under the partial block (limited) voting system, each elector was granted four votes. With larger districts and more votes at their disposal, electors were free to distribute their votes to family members, tribal representatives, representatives from different political factions, and other candidates. Elections were held under this system in 2006, 2008, 2009, and February 2012, producing largely short-lived assemblies with sizable oppositions.

After elections were held in February 2012, during the events of the ‘Arab Spring,’ a group of over 30 MPs announced the formation of the Majority Bloc (Al-Aghlabiyya). The Majority Bloc was arguably Kuwait’s most vocal antigovernment opposition bloc in the National Assembly’s history. The intensity of the Majority Bloc’s criticism of the government prompted the emir to dissolve the National Assembly in June 2012 after only four months in session. The dissolution plunged Kuwait into the most significant political crisis seen since the post-liberation restoration of the National Assembly in 1992. In an attempt to resolve the crisis in the government’s favor, the emir issued an emiri decree amending the electoral law in October 2012. The new law left Kuwait’s five electoral districts intact but controversially switched to a single non-transferable vote (SNTV) electoral system. Each elector would now have only one vote, instead of four.

Since this change, Kuwait has held three parliamentary elections in December 2012, 2013, and 2016. These elections were boycotted by different elements of the opposition in protest of the emiri decree. Since 2016, however, many opposition affiliated tribal and Islamist candidates have returned, arguing that the Constitutional Court’s 2013 decision to uphold the emiri decree has largely settled the issue of the law’s legality.”