- Title: Kuwaitis vote in austerity-focused poll, energised by opposition
- Date: 26th November 2016
- Summary: KUWAIT CITY, KUWAIT (NOVEMBER 26, 2016) (REUTERS) MEN OUTSIDE POLLING STATION ENTRANCE FOR MEN'S POLLING STATION POLICE OFFICER CHECKING DOCUMENTS OF VOTERS ARRIVING LOCAL RESIDENT, FAISAL AL-BARIDY, SAYING: "All the Kuwaiti people saw the performance of the previous assembly. In the absence of the opposition, the assembly became like an administration belonging to the cabinet, not a national assembly that expresses the real will of the people. So, it is necessary that the opposition returns to the assembly." MEN LOOKING FOR THEIR NAMES ON VOTING LIST MAN VOTING MAN PLACING BALLOT IN BOX ANOTHER MAN VOTING (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) HEAD OF POLLING STATION, JUDGE KHALED MUBARAK AL-WAHEEB, SAYING: "Praise God the election is going to plan. We opened at 8 a.m. The process is under way and, God willing, nothing will happen but good." EXTERIOR OF POLLING STATION FOR WOMEN VARIOUS OF TENTS SERVING FOOD POLICE OFFICERS INSIDE POLLING STATION (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LOCAL RESIDENT, SHMAEEL AL-ENEZI, SAYING: "The first issue that concerned all, from the younger generations to the older ones, is the economic issue which is affecting people's pockets. This is the issue that concerns us all now and we want lawmakers who stand for us." WOMAN COLLECTING BALLOT WOMAN VOTING WOMAN PLACING BALLOT INTO BOX REPRESENTATIVES OF CANDIDATES IN POLLING STATION WOMAN PLACING BALLOT INTO BOX WOMAN VOTING WOMAN PLACING BALLOT INTO BOX (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) LOCAL RESIDENT, ARIJ AL-TAHOOS, SAYING: "Honestly the thing that I want and aspire to is a radical change in the assembly. We don't want the bad things that happened in the past to be repeated, in the same way, with the same people, the same faces, the same words and the same topics. We want our voices to reach the government through the lawmakers we are choosing." MEN TALKING OUTSIDE POLLING STATION POLICE STANDING OUTSIDE POLLING STATION (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) FORMER MINISTER OF INFORMATION, MOHAMMED AL-SANOUSI, SAYING: "We are living in a time of many challenges linked to what is happening around us. The National Assembly has a very great and significant responsibility." VARIOUS OF MEN SEATED OUTSIDE POLLING STATION WOMEN SEATED OUTSIDE POLLING STATION
- Embargoed: 11th December 2016 14:06
- Keywords: Kuwait election austerity opposition candidates
- Location: KUWAIT CITY, KUWAIT
- City: KUWAIT CITY, KUWAIT
- Country: Kuwait
- Topics: Government/Politics,Elections/Voting
- Reuters ID: LVA0015A2YVYF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Kuwaitis voted on Saturday (November 26) in an election energised by the participation of opposition candidates for the first time since 2012 and focused on recent government austerity measures aimed at tackling the oil-rich nation's deficit.
The parliament of Western-allied Kuwait was due to run until July 2017, but the emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, dissolved it in October, saying "security challenges" in the region - an apparent reference to wars in Iraq and Syria - should be met by consulting the popular will.
More than 290 candidates, including 14 women, are standing for 50 seats in an assembly that enjoys legislative powers but has often been at odds with the government of one of the world's wealthiest countries, thwarting attempts to strengthen fiscal discipline.
Turnout appeared to be low in the first few hours after polls opened but officials said they expected a pick up before they close at 2000 local (1700 GMT). Many of the voters who cast their ballot after polls opened at 0800 (0500 GMT) said they hoped the election would inject new blood into parliament.
"The thing that I want and aspire to is a radical change in the assembly. We don't want the bad things that happened in the past to be repeated, in the same way, with the same people, the same faces, the same words and the same topics. We want our voices to reach the government through the lawmakers we are choosing," said Arij Al-Tahoos after voting at a girls' school in the upper middle class al-Rawda district in southern Kuwait City.
The opposition, comprising Islamists, liberals and pan-Arabists, won a majority in the February 2012 election but boycotted another in December that year over changes to voting rules that activists said favoured pro-government candidates.
Campaigning has focused mainly on austerity measures adopted in the past year after officials forecast a deficit of 9.5 billion dinars ($31 billion) for the 2016/17 fiscal year. The OPEC state relies on oil for about 90 percent of its revenues.
Kuwait, a U.S. ally occupied by Iraq in 1990-91, has relatively open politics by Gulf standards and has avoided the protests that have rocked several Arab states since 2011.
But a series of assemblies have been dissolved due to power struggles between the opposition and the cabinet, in which the ruling family holds top posts.
While the assembly can pass legislation and question ministers, the emir has the final say and picks a prime minister who selects a cabinet.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2016. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None