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Kuwait voters replace more than half of sitting parliament, no women elected

Published: Updated:

Kuwaiti voters replaced more than half of the sitting parliament, with the incoming legislature having 31 new members, including 22 who have never served in parliament.

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None of the 28 women candidates were elected, including the only female member of the outgoing chamber.

Tribal members made strong gains while opposition candidates also won more seats, reflecting a desire for change and voters’ discontent with the legislature’s performance. Liberals fared poorly and many leading pro-government legislators failed to retain their seats.

Some 568,000 Kuwaitis, just under half of the citizen population, were eligible to choose from 326 candidates, and the parliamentary turnover rate was similar to 2016. Pollsters reported a high turnout in the key OPEC member.

Kuwait is facing a record budget deficit, and the International Monetary Fund expects the economy to contract more than 8 percent this year. The election was held at a critical moment for an economy reeling from lower oil prices, the coronavirus pandemic and stalled reform.

But rescue efforts are stuck as a government appointed by Kuwait’s ruler and lawmakers with enough power to probe and delay legislation disagree over the best way forward.

The nation’s financial plight was often a sideshow in campaigning, as candidates pledged to write off personal loans or protect salaries even though the Treasury is running short of cash and parliament has blocked plans to borrow overseas.

In accordance with the constitution, the government will submit its resignation following the elections and a fresh cabinet must be formed within two weeks, ahead of the new parliament’s inauguration.

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