(Reuters) - Kuwait holds a parliamentary election on July 27, the sixth in the major oil producer in seven years. Below are some details about the OPEC member’s political system, which is the most open in the Gulf Arab region.
Kuwait is ruled by a hereditary emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, who came to power in 2006 and has the final say in state matters. He can pass laws by decree when parliament is not in session and can veto legislation. He selects a prime minister and the cabinet is subject to his approval. He can dismiss government ministers and dissolve parliament.
The post of prime minister and top portfolios, such as interior, defense and foreign affairs, are traditionally held by members of the emir’s Al-Sabah family. The prime minister selects the cabinet of around 15 members. At least one cabinet minister must be drawn from the elected parliament.
The National Assembly has 50 elected members, 10 from each of Kuwait’s five constituencies. It has the power to pass and block legislation and the right to question ministers and vote them out of office. Parliament has been repeatedly dissolved by the emir or Kuwait’s top court in the past seven years.
Kuwait does not allow political parties, so candidates campaign individually and form loose alliances based on policy, family and religious ties. The parliamentary “opposition” refers to a variable group of mainly Islamist and populist politicians who have challenged the government and who boycotted the last election as well as this one.
Around 440,000 Kuwaitis can vote in the election under a voting system which the emir amended last year. The changes sparked protests on the eve of the last ballot in December. Under the new system, voters choose one candidate in their constituency. Under the old one, voters could pick four candidates, using four votes of equal weight.
The government says the changes brought Kuwait in line with parliamentary voting systems elsewhere. Many opposition lawmakers who performed well under the old system said the changes were aimed at denying them the majority they had held in a previous parliament.
Compiled by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Yara Bayoumy, Alistair Lyon and Sonya Hepinstall