Candidates began registering on Wednesday for Kuwait’s early polls called by the ruler after dissolving parliament over a political crisis amid high hopes for massive change and relative stability.
“The change in this election will be huge thanks to the young generation who will play a pivotal role in the polls,” Hussein Jamal, contesting for the second time, told AFP after filing nomination papers for the February 2 polls.
Abdullah al-Oteibi, a 34-year-old candidate running for the first time, said it was youths who forced the dissolution of parliament and it will be they who “elect an honest chamber that will fight corruption.”
Registration of candidates ends on December 30.
Former Shiite MP Saleh Ashour, who supported the previous government, said he expects “at least 50 percent” of the outgoing 50-member parliament to be changed as he bid for re-election.
“The major change and the success of more young candidates will play as a balancing factor in Kuwaiti politics and lead to relative stability,” Jamal said.
Large public rallies organized by youth activists and an unprecedented corruption scandal forced former prime minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah to resign last month for the seventh time in under six years.
Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah appointed a new premier and then dissolved parliament and called for snap polls, the fourth general elections since May 2006.
The oil-rich Gulf state has been rocked by almost non-stop political disputes during the past six years between Sheikh Nasser and opposition MPs who accused him of failure to run the wealthy state and fight corruption.
New opposition hopeful al-Humaidi al-Subaie believes the opposition groups will win 33 seats which is “the needed majority to control the house and issue anti-corruption and other necessary legislation, achieving stability.”
The new polls come after the public prosecutor questioned 13 ex-MPs on charges that hundreds of millions of dollars were illegally deposited in their bank accounts, in addition to nine opposition ex-MPs for storming parliament.
All were released on bail pending further investigation.
Women, who won political rights in 2005, are taking part for the fourth time as both voters and candidates. They constitute 53.8 percent of the total eligible voters of 400,000.
In 2009 polls, four women won the first parliamentary seats ever and one of them Masouma al-Mubarak said she expects women to fare well in the forthcoming elections.
Kuwait, OPEC’s third largest oil producer, is pumping around 3 million barrels per day. It has accumulated more than $300 billion over the past decade from oil development projects were stalled due to political crises.