Kuwait: Opposition threatens protests over Government decision to refer Electoral Law to Constitutional CourtFriday, August 10th, 2012
The Government announced on 9 August that it will ask the Constitutional Court to decide on the legality of the Electoral Law which has governed all polls held since 2006. This move is ostensibly intended to prevent legal challenges to the results of any future elections. However, tensions between the Government and Islamist opposition MPs have caused nine Governments to resign since the law was introduced in 2006 and have led to the dissolution of four Parliaments. We therefore consider it likely that this step is primarily intended to help address the country’s endemic political instability.
This comes after the Constitutional Court dissolved Parliament in June and reinstated the previous 2009 National Assembly. However, both pro-Government and opposition MPs are refusing to take their seats; Government MPs oppose plans to dissolve Parliament once again while opposition MPs call the body illegitimate. There have been two attempts to convene the reinstated Parliament, but not enough members attended to allow debates to start on either occasion. No further efforts are likely to be made and the Information Minister has indicated that Parliament will not be dissolved until the Constitutional Court issues its ruling, meaning that new elections cannot take place before this happens.
However, the largely Islamist opposition advocates calling new elections immediately. It believes that sectarian tensions within Kuwait and across the region could help it to win a majority of seats, as it did in February. Moreover, it fears that the Electoral Law may be amended in a way which damages its chances in the next polls. It is therefore threatening to organise demonstrations if any changes are made. The decision to refer the Electoral Law to the Court has therefore increased political tensions significantly. We believe that protests are likely if the Government continues to delay dissolving Parliament or if the Court amends the Electoral Law without making other substantive constitutional reforms which favour the opposition.