Skip to main content

Kuwaiti opposition says election boycott a success

By Amir Ahmed, CNN
updated 7:21 AM EST, Mon December 3, 2012
Kuwaiti former MP and candidate Ali al-Rashed (C) celebrates following his victory in the parliamentary elections in Kuwait City.
Kuwaiti former MP and candidate Ali al-Rashed (C) celebrates following his victory in the parliamentary elections in Kuwait City.
  • Islamist and liberals forces boycott parliamentary elections Saturday
  • The turnout is 40% compared with nearly 60% in February's parliamentary elections
  • The emir and crown prince send congratulatory messages Sunday to election winners

Read a version of this story in Arabic.

(CNN) -- Kuwaiti opposition groups Sunday declared their election boycott a success after a drop in voter turnout, highlighting a growing divide with the royal family.

The oil-rich nation held parliamentary elections Saturday that were largely boycotted by Islamist and liberals forces.

As Kuwait's official news agency reported that the emir and crown prince were sending congratulatory messages to election winners, opposition groups hailed their boycott as successful.

"Despite the government's media campaign to interfere in the electoral process and their clear criticism of the boycott as a peaceful movement ... the ballot boxes came to prove that the majority of the people reject" the elections, the Popular Committee for Boycotting the Election said in a statement.

Saturday's turnout was about 40% compared with nearly 60% in February's parliamentary elections in which Sunni Islamists and tribal Bedouins made big gains, according to election officials.

In June, the country's constitutional court declared the February elections invalid and re-instated the former government-leaning assembly. Opposition groups are protesting the invalidation of the results and a new voting law, which they say is unconstitutional.

Later in the same month, 35 members of the Islamist-led parliament resigned and demanded a "full parliamentary system."

After weeks of mass protests and following a recommendation from his Cabinet, Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah dissolved parliament in October and ordered new elections in December. He also made the unpopular changes to the voting system.

But the Islamists and tribal leaders, who had won in February's elections, formed a bloc calling for a boycott to the elections.

The group has gained popularity among ordinary Kuwaitis frustrated with the disconnect between their elected parliamentarians and government officials who are usually hand-picked by the emir.

The boycott bloc, which calls the newly elected 50-member parliament "illegitimate," has drastically affected the makeup of the assembly.

Certain groups performed well.

Shiite candidates doubled their number by gaining at least 15 seats, the most they've had at parliament. Women, who were allowed to vote for the first time in 2005, also staged a comeback in the new parliament by gaining three seats.

Also, for the first time in Kuwait's history, two powerful tribes -- Al Mutair and Al Awazem -- will not be represented in parliament.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 7:27 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.