Parliamentary Chamber: Majles Al-Ummah


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  Majles Al-Ummah

Dates of elections / renewal (from/to):

  3 July 1999

Purpose of elections:

  Elections were held for the elective seats in Parliament following the premature dissolution of this body on 4 May 1999. General elections had previously been held in October 1996.

Background and outcome of elections:

  On 4 May 1999, Emir Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad as-Sabah, Head of State since 1977, dissolved the National Assembly following a Koran-related dispute it had had with the Government - the latest of clashes between the two branches over the last two years. The election date was promptly set for July - some 15 months before polling was normally due. Following this dissolution, dozens of Emiri decrees were issued, including one granting women the right to vote and stand for public office as of the year 2003.

While political parties are not permitted in the country and parliamentary candidates thus run as independents, a number of informal political groupings which virtually span the ideological spectrum exist. Among these are the moderate Islamic Constitutional Movement, the Islamic Popular Movement (Salaf), the liberal Kuwait Democratic Forum and National Democratic Movement, the fundamentalist National Islamic Coalition and the Constitutional Bloc. Altogether 288 candidates contested the 50 National Assembly seats; among the prominent opposition figures was outgoing Speaker of the Assembly Ahmad al-Saadoun.

Campaign issues centred on the aforementioned decree on women's rights and opposition allegations of state corruption and government mismanagement of public funds, especially those flowing from the country's large petroleum revenues. Polling day was marked by a high turnout of the all-male electorate of approximately 113,000 (of a total population of more than 2.2 million and a citizenry of some 790,000). Final results gave the liberal forces a major victory with 16 seats, as the ranks of government supporters fell from 18 to 13 seats; Islamist candidates, for their part, captured 20 seats, which provided a majority to the opposition calling for change and reform. In this context, the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Saad al-Abdullah as-Salim as-Sabah, the Crown Prince, resigned on 4 July. Three days later, however, he was re-appointed as Premier and a new Cabinet was sworn in on 14 July.

Round no 1 (3 July 1999): Elections results  
Number of registered electors 112 883

  Political parties are not permitted

Distribution of seats according to sex:  
Men: 50
Women: 0
Percent of women: 0

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Copyright 1999 Inter-Parliamentary Union