Today, early election results in Kuwait indicate that more than 30 of the 50 parliament seats have been secured by the opposition movement, which includes Islamists, liberals and independents, as well as youth groups who cite inspiration from the Arab protests that swept away longtime leaders. The snap elections were called for by Kuwait’s ruler, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, in December. Al-Sabah dissolved the chamber in response to a” deepening political deadlock that has stymied reform and held up vital development projects.” The four female MPs who served in the previous parliament lost their seats, but Ayesh al-Rasheed, a journalist and 2009 candidate, felt “women wouldn’t have won the four seats in the last election had they not had government support.” The Liberals also lost three parliament seats out of their previous five. “There’s obviously more traction now for the opposition groups. You have kind of a momentum,” said Shahin Shamsabadi, senior adviser at the Risk Advisory Group.
Sixty-two percent of Kuwaitis cast their vote on Thursday, this is up slightly from the 2009 election with 58 percent casting ballots. Kuwait’s rulers still retain full control over the country, but the parliament can challenge policies, initiate legislation, and bring no-confidence motions against officials. ”Meaningful constitutional reform is unlikely under the leadership of the current emir. However, after power transitions to a new generation, more deep-seated change is likely,” said Jamie Ingram, an analyst at Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, based in Qatar.