Blog Post

Kuwait’s Suspended Parliament: Where Does the Public Stand?

| May 23, 2024

In a televised address on May 10, Kuwait’s Emir, Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, firmly stated, “I will not let democracy be exploited to destroy the state.” This address came as he dissolved the National Assembly for the second time in three months and enacted temporary suspensions of specific constitutional provisions for up to four years. Subsequently, the Emir sanctioned the formation of a new cabinet and articulated his determination to pursue reforms. This stance not only underscores his willingness to push through controversial policies but also signals a strategic pivot aimed at reducing the nation’s dependence on oil revenues.

The suspension of the parliament has elicited surprise among some Kuwaitis and Kuwait observers. After all, Kuwait has long been hailed as a bastion of democracy within a region characterized by a trend toward authoritarianism following the Arab uprisings. In stark contrast to its Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) counterparts, Kuwait boasts a parliament endowed with legislative powers, capable of engaging in the formulation, deliberation, and enactment of laws. It can also interpellate cabinet ministers and cast votes of no confidence, which often led to ministerial resignations. Just a month prior, on April 4, the nation had held snap elections to elect a new parliament. Kuwaitis take great pride in their democratic traditions, including political openness and freedom of expression. Nowhere else in the GCC do citizens enjoy comparable rights.

Some observers, however, might have seen the decision to suspend parliament as a culmination of longstanding tensions and disagreements within Kuwait’s political system. Persistent gridlocks between the elected members of the parliament and the government have gripped the nation for years, including over economic reforms. Notably, since 2006, the National Assembly has been dissolved ten times and nullified three times by the Constitutional Court, emblematic of the ongoing challenges besetting the nation.

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Noh, Yuree.Kuwait’s Suspended Parliament: Where Does the Public Stand?.” May 23, 2024, https://www.belfercenter.org/publication/kuwaits-suspended-parliament-where-does-public-stand.

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