Politics in Kuwait is characterized by
contradictions between the government, which is
dominated by the ruling emir of the Sabah family, and
the parliament. Oppositionists in Parliament have tried
to hold the government accountable, for example for the
use of state funds, which has repeatedly led to the
resignation of the government and the election of new
At the end of 2019, the government fell after a
corruption scandal and the country got its ninth
government in eight years. The Prime Minister became
Sabah al-Khalid Al Sabah. He is, like most leading
politicians, a member of the royal house, but Home
Minister Anas al-Salih was taken out of a wider circle.
At the Finance Ministry post was placed Maryam al-Aqil,
one of three female ministers.
Country facts and history of Kuwait, including state flag, location map, demographics, GDP data, currency code, and business statistics.
Foreign Minister became Nasir al-Muhammad al-Sabah,
who previously held the post of prime minister for five
years and through seven government offices (see Modern
Thus, to a large extent, the same people circulate in
the stools, but Kuwait still has a greater element of
popular rule than other countries in the Persian Gulf.
And it has contributed to turbulence in recent years,
with many government reforms and a number of new
Some examples of events in recent years, with the
Arab protest year 2011 as a starting point:
In November 2011, Parliament was stormed by a number
of MEPs with supporters. They briefly occupied the House
and demanded the then Prime Minister's departure. Former
Defense Minister Jabir Mubarak al-Hamad Al Sabah was
appointed new Prime Minister. He remained in office for
several elections, but the first election after he took
office in February 2012 gave the opposition control over
Already in June of that year, the Assembly was
dissolved by the Constitutional Court, which claimed
that the dismissal of the previous government had
violated the Constitution. The old parliament was
reinstated by the court. The protest action in 2011 also
led to legal consequences for the participants, who
through a number of court trips since then have been
acquitted, who were also punished with imprisonment.
In October 2012, the government lost a dispute with
the Constitutional Court over the current electoral law,
and the emir again dissolved the parliament. A new
electoral law was introduced by decree. The amendment
was considered to hamper the opposition's ability to
form alliances and triggered hostile protests.
New elections were held in December 2012. It was
boycotted by large parts of the opposition in protest of
the new electoral law. The election turned out to be a
victory for Shi'ite Islamists, who advanced sharply,
while Sunni Muslims lost ground. However, most places
went to candidates who primarily represented different
In June 2013, Parliament was dissolved once again. At
the recent elections in July, which were also boycotted
by most opposition groups, the number of Shiite members
was halved, while Sunni Muslims and liberals went ahead.
Even this time, most of the mandate went to candidates
who primarily represented different clans.
In the spring of 2014, most of the country's
regime-critical groups - Islamists, liberals,
nationalists, trade unions, student organizations, youth
activists and other sections of civil society - formed a
new alliance: the Opposition Coalition, led by the
lawyer Musallam al-Barrak, a former trade union leader
and MP had participated in the "storming" of parliament
in 2011. In a national reform program, the coalition
demanded radical political changes: the introduction of
parliamentary democracy and multi-party systems, as well
as restrictions on the power of the Emirate family.
During a large protest rally involving around 6,000
participants in Kuwait City in the summer of 2014,
Barrak accused high-ranking people within the regime of
having enriched themselves from the Treasury; Among
other things, the former prime minister, Sheikh Nasir,
would have bribed people in the country's judiciary with
state money. Prime Minister Jabir asked the state
prosecutor to investigate the allegations, since they
were supported by his cousin who also claimed that there
were plans for a coup d'etat.
Police with tear gas and water cannons dispelled
Musallam al-Barrak's supporters as they demonstrated
against his arrest. The government also explained that
continued protests would be answered with "an iron
fist". Among other things, the Interior Ministry was
given the right to revoke the citizenship of those who
tried to "undermine the country's security and
stability". Since then, a number of opposites have lost
their Kuwaiti citizenship, while others have been
arrested for criticizing the emir and some
regime-critical media have had their licenses revoked.
Musallam al-Barrak has had to continue to fight in
court for his cause, and for his freedom. In the spring
of 2017, he was released after serving a two-year prison
sentence and went into exile, but later resigned in
Kuwait after a court ordered him to be arrested again,
and he risked being extradited (from Saudi Arabia, where
he was located)..
In 2014, sharply falling oil prices on the world
market were about to damage the country's economy.
Already, the government had warned that the system that
guaranteed Kuwaiti citizens generous government
contributions throughout their lives must be reviewed
(see also Economic overview).
That same fall, Kuwait promised to support the fight
against the Sunni extremist Islamic State (IS) movement.
Admittedly, they did not participate in the US-led air
bombings against the terrorist group, but pledged to
stop cash subsidies and recruits for this. At the end of
the year, three men were sentenced to long prison
sentences for trying to recruit supporters to IS (see
also Foreign Policy and Defense).
In the spring of 2015, Kuwait chose to join an
alliance led by Saudi Arabia, which has since carried
out air strikes against the Shiite Muslim Huthirbels in
In 2016, measures were taken to manage the sharply
falling oil revenues, which was due to the falling world
market price. From September, the government raised the
price of gasoline sharply, the first increase in almost
20 years. It became a trigger for the dissolution of
Parliament once again, after three years of relative
political peace. The fuel price hike caused strong
protests among MPs.
In the elections that followed, the opposition
significantly strengthened its positions and gained
almost half of the seats in Parliament (see Calendar).
Nevertheless, Prime Minister Jabir was again
commissioned to form a government.
One year later, in October 2017, the government
resigned following a vote of no confidence against a
minister. In December, a new government took office,
replacing half of the ministers. However, the prime
Follow the ongoing development of the Calendar.
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FACTS - POLITICS
Dawlat al-Kuwayt / States of Kuwait
monarchy, unitary state
Head of State
emir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah (2006–)
Head of government
Prime Minister Sabah al-Khalid Al Sabah (2019–)
Most important parties with mandates in the
Twenty-four members are considered oppositional,
among them the Islamic constitutional movement with 6
seats. Shia Islamists 6, Salafists 5 (2016) 1
Main parties with mandates in the second most
Shia Islamists 8, Sunni Islamists 7, Liberals 3,
others 32 (2013)
70% in the 2016 parliamentary elections
parliamentary elections 2020
- Parties are not allowed but there are