Kuwait Opposition 'needs Unity' After Poll Comeback

Kuwait opposition 'needs unity' after poll comeback

KUWAIT CITY, Dec 1, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 01st Dec, 2016 ) - Kuwait's Islamist-dominated opposition made a strong showing in the Gulf state's parliamentary elections, but analysts say the loose coalition must forge strong unity to become an effective political force.

Saturday's polls were the first in nearly four years contested by the opposition, whose diverse components agree on some issues such as rejecting government austerity measures but are split on many others.

Political parties are banned in Kuwait, which has been ruled by the Al-Sabah family for two and a half centuries and was the first Gulf Arab state to adopt a parliamentary system in 1962. But many groups operate freely as de facto parties.

As a result, the opposition coalition is made up of individuals, rather than well-defined parties with a distinct ideology. The opposition groups boycotted two general elections in 2012 and 2013 in protest at a change in the voting system brought unilaterally by the government.

But they decided to contest the November 26 snap polls to stop what they called a "political deterioration" in the oil-rich emirate.

"The opposition is not a single entity. It is a coalition of groups and individuals not linked by a distinct ideology or even a programme," said political analyst Abdulwahed Khalfan.

"They differ in their directions and goals but they meet under a common umbrella of opposing the government," Khalfan told AFP. Islamists took nearly half of the 24 seats won by the opposition in the 50-member parliament.

The rest went to nationalists and liberals. The main Islamist group is the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Islamic Constitutional Movement (ICM) which won six seats along with its allies. The radical Salafists and their supporters won five seats.

"I think we will see more than one opposition bloc in parliament ... Not all opposition members can be classified under one category," political analyst Saleh al-Saeedi said. "They will agree on a number of priority issues ... On populist issues, their number will increase as other MPs will join," Saeedi told AFP.