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Kuwait study suggests room for political parties, electoral reforms

File image used for illustrative purpose. Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah (top C) attends the opening of the 14th session of Parliament in Kuwait City

File image used for illustrative purpose. Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah (top C) attends the opening of the 14th session of Parliament in Kuwait City

REUTERS/Stephanie McGehee

Tuesday, Jan 10, 2017

Manama: A study commissioned by the Kuwaiti government has called for reforming the electoral system and allowing political parties.

The study conducted following the parliamentary elections on November 26 concluded that the system of five electoral districts, which has been implemented six times, and the ‘one person, one vote’ system used in three elections so far have not achieved the desired success in limiting the negative aspects of the elections in Kuwait, Kuwaiti daily Al Rai reported on Tuesday.

The study said that the ‘one person, one vote’ system that was introduced as part of the reforms to the controversial 2006 Electoral Law had given smaller tribes a greater representation in the parliament while it “contributed to the fragmentation of social blocs and split the large tribes, some of which are now represented like the smaller tribes”.

It also called for looking into the possibility of allowing political parties or political societies and issuing a law regulating them as a way to address the political chaos and fragmentation of the society.

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According to the daily, the study called for enacting a law to set up a High Elections Commission to ensure transparency and fairness and to address the violations that may occur.

“This is among the best practice applied in democratic countries for overseeing and running general elections and organising the related processes,” the study said.

“Under such a system, the high commission will oversee the electoral lists and monitor the elections.”

The study suggested lowering the age of Kuwaiti men and women who can cast ballots to 18 and that of people who can run as candidates in elections to 25.

Military and security staff should be allowed to vote, the study said, arguing that their category represents a large segment of the community, the study added.

The voting and counting of ballots should be done electronically, after ensuring confidentiality guarantees, provided that there is material evidence of the ballots for reference in the event of disputes in order to ensure the voters’ choices are upheld.

By Habib Toumi Bureau Chief

Gulf News 2017. All rights reserved.

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