Elections 2016Politics

Kuwait’s Snap Polls 2016: What you need to know

constituencies-mapKuwait operates under a unicameral legal system with an executive and legislative branch. The legislature, the Majlis Al-Ommah (National Assembly) was established in 1962 and has 50 directly elected officials from five constituencies in Kuwait.

Each constituency elects 10 officials in a one man = one vote system with the 10 candidates who receive the most votes winning the seats. If two candidates receive an equal number of valid votes, the polling committee draws lots and the winner is declared elected. There is no threshold to win a seat. There are no reserved seats or quotas for tribal, women, minorities or other categories.

Political parties are not allowed in Kuwait though ‘groups’ and alliances often form for short-term goals. The upcoming snap polls, likely to be held in December (so as to be in compliance with the 60 days from dissolution requirement under the Kuwait Constitution) will be the seventh parliamentary polls since 2006.

Voting is not compulsory but all voters must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be 21 years of age
  • citizens of Kuwait with Kuwaiti father
  • residence in the country at the time of election
  • citizens overseas cannot vote
  • disqualifications: any imprisonment, persons naturalized within the last 20 years, military personnel and policemen, unrehabilitated persons convicted of a felony or dishonorable crime


In the last elections in 2013, there were 439,911 registered voters with turnout of 228,314 (51.9%).

To qualify to run as a candidate for the legislature:

  • Candidates must be at least 30 years old
  • citizens of Kuwait with Kuwaiti father
  • residence in the country at the time of election
  • ability to read and write in Arabic
  • In a new requirement added this year, candidates must have both a clean criminal and ‘honor’ record and may not have been sentenced for insulting God, prophets or the Amir of Kuwait.

The Amir, cabinet ministers, judges and members of the armed forces and police are not allowed to run for political office.

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