By B Izzak
KUWAIT: At the close of candidate registration on Sunday, 252 candidates including 15 women filed nomination papers to run in the June 6 parliamentary polls, called after the 2020 National Assembly was dissolved and after the constitutional court annulled the Sept 2022 elections. Forty-seven of the 50 members of the scrapped 2022 Assembly are bidding for re-election, hoping that Kuwaiti voters have not forgotten them in the past eight months.
In addition, 56 former MPs are also in the fray to win a seat in the 50-member house, 30 of whom were also members of the scrapped 2022 Assembly. The total number of candidates is below the number in the Sept 2022 elections, when as many as 376 candidates registered for the polls. However, only 305 of them contested the elections after 71 hopefuls withdrew. The withdrawal door is open until seven days before election day.
Former speakers Marzouq Al-Ghanem and Ahmad Al-Saadoun are contesting and are expected to compete for the head of the Assembly’s post after the polls. Ghanem told reporters after registering for the elections that he is ready to serve the people as a speaker or a member. Two groups are fighting this election. One is led by Ghanem and the other by Saadoun. The government has not said which side it will support.
Kuwait is divided into five electoral constituencies, with each electing 10 MPs to the 50-member Assembly. In the first constituency, 10 members of the 2022 Assembly and four ex-MPs are contesting. In the second district, 10 members of the 2022 house and six former MPs are contesting.
In the third constituency, eight members of the 2022 Assembly and six former MPs are fighting for the 10 seats. In the fourth electoral district, nine members of the 2022 Assembly and five former MPs are in the fray. In the fifth constituency, all the 10 members of the 2022 Assembly and five former MPs are running.
Candidates have focused their attention on the need to restore elusive political stability after almost two decades of political crises in a country with just 1.5 million citizens and oil production exceeding 2.5 million barrels per day. The country has amassed foreign reserves exceeding $700 billion, but public services and roads have badly deteriorated in the past several years as a result of non-stop political disputes. There are around 793,000 eligible voters in Kuwait.