IQNA

13:58 - December 05, 2020
News ID: 3473310
TEHRAN (IQNA) – Kuwaitis vote in legislative polls on Saturday as the Persian Gulf state faces its worst economic crisis in decades, posing a challenge for the government’s often stormy relationship with parliament, that has hampered fiscal reform.

 

Turnout is expected to be lower than in past elections due to concern over COVID-19, which along with low crude prices, has battered state finances in the wealthy oil-producing nation. Low turnout could strengthen the showing of tribal, religious and other candidates who can rally supporters to head to polling centers, analysts said.

“Kuwaiti opposition who boycotted (previous) polls are moving to run and vote, and this could strengthen their presence,” said Kuwaiti political analyst Mohamad al-Dosayri.

More than 300 candidates, including 29 women, are vying for 50 seats in the Persian Gulf’s oldest and most outspoken Arab assembly with legislative powers. Critics say parliament has long stalled investment and economic and fiscal reform in the cradle-to-grave welfare state.

Frequent clashes between the cabinet and assembly have led to successive government reshuffles and dissolutions of parliament. The emir, who has final say, picks a prime minister who selects a cabinet. The current government is due to resign after the elections.

Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah took the reins as emir in September following the death of his brother.

Campaigning, which took place mostly on social media and local TV channels due to COVID-19 measures against gatherings, has focused on the economy, corruption and demographics in a country where foreigners make up the bulk of the workforce.

“The issues are the same - health, education, housing - as none of these have been resolved yet,” government employee Hamad al-Otaibi, 43, told Reuters ahead of the elections.

The nearly $140 billion economy is facing a deficit of $46 billion this year. A priority will be overcoming legislative gridlock on a bill that would allow Kuwait to tap international debt markets.

Tags: Kuwait ، polls ، parliament
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