Manama: Kuwait parliamentary election has brought a new exclusion of women from the 50-seat parliament after none of the 23 women candidates, including the four incumbents, could secure enough votes to win, even though women made up around 54 per cent of the voting bloc.
Social media users spent the first hours after the announcement of the results discussing the merits of the lawmakers, with many attributing the loss by women candidates to the strong presence of conservative forces.
However, for UAE activist Ebtisam Kitbi, Kuwaiti women should have been elected. "They deserve to be there thanks to their competence, even though none was elected," she said on her Twitter account.
Islamists The professor of political sciences at the UAE University said, "Competence is not confined to a specific gender, and voters do not always make their choice based on the candidates' competence. We would not have George Bush if that was the case," she said.
Overall change to the parliament composition over the latest one, which was dissolved in December following bitter clashes with the government, was about 54 per cent as 27 new lawmakers made their way to the green seats. The Islamists have now 22 seats from the Salafist and Muslim Brotherhood movements as well as independent MPs.
Liberals lose out
"This reflects a regional state of mind following the Islamists' wins in other Arab countries," analysts for Al Aan newspaper said. "It is reflective of the weakness and limitations of the civil society in Kuwait."
However, liberals were, like in the other Arab countries where national elections were held, on a downward spiral and kept only one of the five seats they had in the outgoing parliament. "Some of the MPs are known for their attacks on other Kuwaitis and for their sectarianism and this could spell trouble," the analysts said.
Mohammad Al Suhaili, a Kuwaiti political analyst, said that the new formation would spell trouble.
Tribalism has proved that it is undisputedly one of the most significant factors in the elections, he said. "There will be numerous clashes between the lawmakers whose backgrounds and orientations sharply contrast as well as standoffs with the government. I do not think that this parliament will go to the full extent of its term. It is way too explosive to remain," the Bahrain-based analyst told Gulf News.
Social media network users have already drawn up the duels they expect to see soon in the parliament, especially as some lawmakers had clashed during the pre-election campaigns.
In a message of congratulations to the winners, Prime Minister Shaikh Jaber Al Mubarak Al Hamad Al Sabah, yesterday said that the lawmakers should be prepared to shoulder "heavy responsibilities" and to deal with difficult times ahead.
The premier expressed hope that the new members of parliament will fulfil the "aspirations of the people on security, stability, development, prosperity, combating negative acts and bolstering patriotism," Kuwait News Agency (Kuna)