His Highness the Amir has spoken and the government has announced a change in the voting system. Voters were allowed to cast four votes in their constituencies, but with the new change, they will be allowed one vote only. This means coalitions and endorsements within a constituency will most likely disappear, as it will literally mean every man for himself. In the previous system, candidates could strike deals and help each other by sharing votes and popular candidates could always endorse other candidates within their group since people were allowed to cast four votes. However, with only one vote now, candidates will only look for their own success in elections.
This change was met with mixed feelings among Kuwaitis. There are those who welcomed the change and saluted HH the Amir; there are those who were disappointed with the decision and decided to boycott the elections, and there are those who decided to take this issue to the streets. Again, I reiterate that Kuwait is a country ruled by a constitution and it is time for the government to implement it. Those who are taking to the streets of Kuwait have failed to implement their policies in parliament and are now trying to force their demands on the Kuwaiti people.
They tried on several occasions to get a vote of no-confidence via political means and they failed to convince, so then they got inspired by the Arab Spring to collect a mob on the streets, broke into parliament and attacked anyone who criticized them. Then they accused all those who didn’t vote against the former PM of being bribed and that was proved to be false. Unfortunately, in the end they got what they wanted by walking over the law and threatening Kuwait’s stability.
Now they believe that threatening to cause chaos and disrespecting other opinions is the way for them to get power and this is looking like a power struggle in disguise. The success of this decision will be vital to the stability of the country and yes, it might change some faces in parliament. But history will only repeat itself if the government does not put its foot down and follow through with its agenda and lobby for what they believe is right for Kuwait rather than surrendering to an MP and leaving the country at a standstill or even worse, cause a repeat of the Dow deal that cost Kuwait a penalty of $2 billion. The government should hold MPs accountable for their actions and their abuse of wasta and make it all known to voters who think their MPs are on the right track. This is a game of dirty politics and our government needs to learn how to protect its agenda in the public eye.
Perhaps it’s also time to start thinking about forming political parties officially in Kuwait.
This article was published on the Kuwait Times on Oct. 21, 2012