The relatively low turnout of voters in Kuwait’s elections on Saturday has sparked the need to ask questions the on general feelings and attitudes surrounding these polls, in those who voted and those who did not.
“I think the way in which the new electoral law was imposed is utterly authoritarian, and the law itself aimed at solidifying authoritarian power base,” stated Faisal, 24, describing himself as a conscientious abstainer, and elucidating that not only do some find the circumstances surrounding the voting process unacceptable, there is a belief that the voting process itself is inherently flawed, and unrepresentative.
Whether out of lack of faith in a political system that they feel does not represent them, apathy, or staunch opposition to the whole voting process, a large segment of society was unaccounted for at the polling stations on Saturday.
“I didn’t vote because my research on the new electoral system led me to believe that my vote doesn’t matter,” continued Faisal. “The way the new system is arranged is that those guaranteed a win would win anyway, and it is only used in a handful of countries including Thailand, Afghanistan and Jordan (not the models of democracy I would want Kuwait to follow). I am not really giving the results a second thought. I skimmed over them and they seem predictable to the utmost.”
Yet, equally, many do not find any easy answers within the oppositional framing of events. “As a leftist and a secularist, however, I am wary of lending any support to the opposition because of the legislation that they brought to the table in the year they actually had power (morality police, blasphemy law, change to the Constitution’s second clause, etc). Politically, as a left-leaning humanist/secularist, I am stuck between a rock and a hard place,” said Faisal.
Alternatively, there are those who are supportive of the voting process, insisting that the opposition should also vote and elect those who represent their point of view. “If the government has the right to dissolve the parliament, then it has the right to make necessary changes to find solutions. Clearly [the previous] method was not working so we need to try something new. If it doesn’t work we’ll look for a different alternative,” said Yousef, 23.
“Well, I personally was involved in the whole elections, I’m happy with the turnout,” said Anwar, 24. “But the person who I was working for won, which is a good thing. I just hope that the opposition don’t make a big deal about the results. All in all, if everything goes smooth sailing, and nobody starts a riot, we should start seeing progress and a big improvement in the country by the [end] of next year.”
Yet, the general outcome, as well as the atmosphere around the elections seems, at best precarious, with many predicting a short-lived term for this parliament. However, proponents of the new parliament have stated that representation is much more balanced, with more factions of society represented. However, the inherent sense of dissatisfaction felt by opposition members and abstainers alike is not expected to disappear at any point in the near future.
By: Joana Saba Arab Times Staff