x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Win for Islamist-led opposition expected as Kuwait goes to the polls

Female voters make up 54 per cent of the electorate and 23 women are among 286 candidates running for the 50-seat legislative body.

Females make up 54 per cent of the Kuwaiti electorate. Voting got off to a slow start yesterday in Kuwait City but picked up later.
Females make up 54 per cent of the Kuwaiti electorate. Voting got off to a slow start yesterday in Kuwait City but picked up later.

KUWAIT CITY // Kuwaitis cast ballots yesterday in a snap vote to elect the fourth parliament in less than six years, as pollsters predicted a solid victory for the Islamist-led opposition.

Many hoped the vote, which followed an especially tense campaign and some outbursts of violence, would end political disputes that have dogged the country for years.

Women voters, dressed in clothes ranging from abayas to jeans, lined up in short queues set up especially for them, as lines of men formed at separate polling booths.

Female voters make up 54 per cent of the electorate and 23 women are among 286 candidates running for the 50-seat legislative body.

Voter traffic was low in the morning but picked up rapidly later, especially in tribal constituencies where men stood in long queues at polling centres.

Pollsters and analysts expected the 400,000 electorate to deliver a resounding victory for the Islamist-led opposition which has campaigned vehemently for fundamental reforms and against corruption.

The snap poll took place after the emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, dissolved parliament following unprecedented protests led by youths inspired by the Arab Spring.

The protests led to the resignation of the previous government and the former prime minister, Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al Ahmad Al Sabah, who was replaced by another senior royal.

The elections are being held against a backdrop of heightened sectarian and tribal tensions which this week erupted into violence.

Some voters expressed concern that the election would not help return stability.

"We are very frustrated and worried about what is happening in Kuwait," said Umm Saud, after casting her vote at Jabriya. "I am not optimistic this election will resolve our problems, but I pray that I am wrong."

Polling began at 8am and was set to close at 8pm, with the first results expected early today.