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What is at Stake in Kuwait’s Parliamentary Elections?

"Kuwait has the most democratic political system in the Gulf; its parliament is arguably one of the most sustained democratic experiments in the Arab world. The Sabah family rules Kuwait under the terms of a 1963 constitution that allows for a freely elected parliament that has real legislative and oversight authority. The parliament’s willingness and ability to assert independence has varied over time, but in recent years it has been increasingly assertive. And the ruling family—which has generally managed in the past to keep the parliament at bay by co-opting deputies and playing them off against each other—shows signs of increasing frustration. On one occasion in the 1970s and another in the 1980s, similar frustration led the ruling family to suspend parliament. The United States—which was instrumental in securing the restoration of parliament after the country was liberated from Saddam Hussein’s regime—has lost a great deal of its interest in Kuwaiti democracy, distracted by Iraq and far more concerned with Kuwait’s role as an transit point for U.S. troops and supplies."
Nathan J. Brown
Middle East Program
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