Kuwait's 1962 Constitution calls for elections to the National Assembly at a maximum interval of four years. Elections are held earlier if the Emir exercises his constitutional power to dissolve the parliament. Kuwaiti people enjoy an active parliamentary system since 1962, more than any country in the Gulf region.
Is Kuwait election speeding or slowing the spread of democracy in the GCC region?
With free press and elections for most of the posts, some say that Kuwait is the only democratic corner in the Gulf, but that Corner's people are tired of democratic crises and Kuwait is slowing the spread of democracy in the region.
The election on May 17th is the third election in just five years because of lack of co-operation from parliamentarians with the government or the other way around. Women have been able both to run for office and to vote, but with the overwhelming tribal and Islamic influence women will not run for office in the foreseeable future. Kuwaiti MP’s enjoy limited power and their institutions still look pretty feeble, and while focusing on local issues, they have prevented much-needed economic reforms that attract foreign investment and by this they harm the country.
During the last four decades Kuwait was a good example of democracy in the region, now Some GCC country leaders are arguing with their people whether democracy brings any general benefits, using Kuwait as a bad example; warning that Islamists and tribal conservatives will be the majority. Another argument is that Kuwait was about to become another Lebanon during the Iran- Iraq War if it wasn’t because the Emir exercises his constitutional power to dissolve the parliament.
Francis Fukuyama argued in his book The End of History and the Last Man, that democracy may constitute the “end point of mankind’s ideological evolution” and the “final form of human government,” and as such constituted the “end of history.
During the last four decades the United States favored stability over democracy at the Gulf region, and with oil prices reaching $125 a barrel and the Iranian nuclear program becoming a real threat to the Gulf security; it is a fair question to ask if the same arguments about stability and democracy are being discussed in Washington. Does Washington see us at the GCC as being at the end of history or do we have to try other ideologies first; like hereditary monarchy, fascism, and communism?