Political System in Kuwait

Kuwait is a sovereign Arab nation state located in Western Asia, in northeast of the Arabian Peninsula. Kuwait’s neighboring countries are Iraq, which borders it to the north, and Saudi Arabia to the south. The name Kuwait is derivative of the arabic word “akwat” meaning a fortress built near water. The country has a human population of about 2.7 million covering an area of 17,820 square kilometers. In 1961, it gained independence from the United Kingdom. There was a remarkable development in its economic growth due to its oil industry. Iraq invaded Kuwait in the year 1990 for a period of seven months. This forced a direct US Army intervention to drive Iraq army away, leaving 773 oil wells set ablaze.   

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Kuwait has a blend of monarchy and parliamentary system government. Kuwait city serves as the capital of both political and economic system of the country. Kuwait’s legal system is based on the diverse sources. However, most civil and personal status laws are governed by the Islamic religious law, Sharia, based on the Quran and the Hadith. In Kuwait, general education is free and compulsory, provided by the government for the natives between ages 6 and 14. Students are fixed out with school uniforms, books, meals, transportation and medical care. The ministry of information manages the Government’s press and radio and television broadcasting. This ministry is also serving the purpose of reviving literary works in Arabic.

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The Al Sabah family has been leading Kuwait, maintaining a dynastic regime, from the middle of 18th century. The ruling family maintains several key cabinet positions including the oil, defense, foreign, finance and interior portfolios. However, there has been a remarkable decline in the number of the ruling family members in the administration from 11 of thirteen to 5 of sixteen. The Amir governs with the help of the cabinet of ministers as the governing council. He appoints ministers and prime minister from members of the National Assembly or any other citizen. There was the tradition that the Crown Prince has always served as the Prime Minister, although there are no constitutional restrictions. Kuwait has a judicial system that is based on Egyptian model. It is a blend of English common law, Islamic law and the Ottoman civil code. Other personal and family matters are, however, guided by separate religious laws; each religion has its own courts and laws.

Kuwait’s legislature consists of democratically elected parliamentarians. The parliament consists of 50 members elected by a select electorate on a four-year term. The Amir has the power to adjourn the parliamentary Assembly for a period not exceeding one month, and can call for elections within two months. However, the constitution gives powers to the National Assembly to revert decrees made by Amir during dissolution. Each MP has a national responsibility but is elected by a certain constituency. There are 25 electoral districts served by two vote-winners.

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The country forbids political parties and, hence, each candidate runs on independent tickets. Currently, voting is restricted to citizens who resided in this country before 1920, their descendants and descendants of naturalized citizens who have attained the age of 21.  Prior to 2005, voting was restricted only for males. Although political groupings are restricted, some political organizations have sprung up. They include Independents, the Islamic Constitutional Movement, the Islamic National Alliance, Kuwait democratic Forum, the National Democratic Group and the Tribal confederations.

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