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Election Watch

State of Kuwait Parliamentary July 3, 1999
At stake in this election:
  • Seats in the National Assembly (Majlis al-Umma): 50
Description of government structure:
  • Chief of State: Emir Sheikh JABIR al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah
  • Head of Government: Prime Minister and Crown Prince Sheikh SAAD al-Abdallah al-Salim al-Sabah
  • Parliament: Kuwait's unicameral parliament, the National Assembly (Majlis al-Umma), consists of 50 members.
Description of electoral system:
  • The emir is a constitutional ruler, chosen by the ruling family and subject to parliamentary consent.
  • The prime minister is appointed by the emir.
  • Members of the National Assembly are directly elected from twenty-five two-member constituencies for four-year terms. In each district, the two highest vote recipients are awarded the seats, even if they receive less than a majority of the votes.
Main parties in the electoral race:
  • Although political parties are not permitted in Kuwait, informal political groupings exist.
  • All candidates for the National Assembly run formally as independents.
    491 candidates are registered to run in the July 1999 election to the National Assembly.
When was the last election? Number of seats in last election?
  • Parliamentary elections last held: October 7, 1996
  • Seats decided in the 1996 election: 50
Population and number of registered voters:
  • Population: 2,238,000, of which 772,000 are Kuwaiti citizens
  • Number of registered voters: 112,882
  • Note: Kuwaiti women are not permitted to vote in the 1999 election. 57% of Kuwait's citizens are under the voting age of 21.   Police and military personnel are not permitted to vote.
Of Interest:
  • Kuwait is the only Persian Gulf state with an elected parliament.
  • Women will neither be allowed to vote in nor be candidates for the July 1999 parliamentary election.
  • In May 1999, Kuwait's emir granted women the right to vote and run for parliament. The decree is subject to review by the National Assembly. If the ruling stands, women will be able to participate in the 2003 elections. Since the incoming parliament must approve all emiri decrees, or governmental decrees issued in the parliament's absence, the July 1999 election has turned into a referendum on women's electoral and political rights.
  • The July 1999 election will take place nearly a year and a half ahead of schedule.
For additional information: IFES ElectionGuide Online


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