05/16/2008, 00.00
KUWAIT
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Voting tomorrow in Kuwait, in attempt at stability

The government has been dissolved twice over the past two years. Voters are divided by religious, social, and tribal factors, but above all by their fidelity to the different branches of the ruling family. 274 candidates are running, including 27 women, but no women were elected in the previous vote.

Kuwait City (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The search for stability and the renewal of the political class are the two main elements of the political elections that will take place tomorrow in Kuwait.  In play are the 50 seats of the first parliament created in a Gulf state, in 1962.  It is an assembly that has legislative powers and can remove individual ministers, but it does not govern, and it cannot deprive the executive branch of its mandate, which is one of the rights of the emir. The emir has done this twice in the past two years, because of conflicts between the government and members of parliament.

The hopes are therefore that the vote will resolve a crisis that is producing weariness and disappointment among the population of the wealthy Gulf state.  There are 274 candidates, including 27 women - no woman was elected in the last vote - and the vote is taking place under a new electoral law, which precisely in order to foster stability has reduced the electoral districts from 25 to 5.

In reality, the prospects appear to be dim, because in addition to the differences among the parties - which are officially outlawed - the situation is complicated by divisions among tribal groups, between Sunnis (two thirds of the population) and Shiites, between the city inhabitants and the Bedouins, and above all among the different branches of the Al-Sabah family, which has been in power for 250 years in the emirate and secures for its members the post of prime minister and the key ministries of each government.  The disagreement within this family - and therefore among the groups of parliamentarians loyal to its various branches - are seen as the real origin of the political crisis.

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