A Kuwaiti judge (C) and his aides count the ballots at a polling station at the end of the vote in the Sabah al-Salem district on the outskirts of Kuwait City on November 26, 2016. (Photo by AFP)
Opposition groups have managed to obtain nearly half of the seats in the Kuwaiti parliament following snap polls in the oil-rich Persian Gulf state.
According to the official results announced by Kuwait’s election authority on Sunday, the opposition groups and their allies won 24 seats at the 50-member legislature.
A third of the new parliament is also made up of new young lawmakers.
The early elections were held on Saturday, with a turnout of around 70 percent. Some 483,000 people were eligible to choose lawmakers from 293 candidates, including 14 women.
The Kuwaiti parliament was due to run until July 2017, but Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al Sabah dissolved it in October, citing “regional circumstances” and “security challenges” in the country.
The challenges necessitate “resorting to the people, the source of authority, to choose their representatives who express their aspirations,” the emir said in a decree.
Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al Sabah (Photo by AFP)
The decision came after members of the legislature pressured the government over fuel price hikes.
There has been growing public dissatisfaction in the country triggered by the government’s decision to cut some benefits such as fuel subsidies and hike the cost of petrol by up to 80 percent in the face of falling oil prices across the world.
The Kuwaiti opposition won a majority in the February 2012 elections, but boycotted another in December that year over changes to the electoral law.
However, the opposition ended its boycott and contested in Saturday’s vote that was the seventh general elections in Kuwait in a decade.
Kuwait is currently grappling with a severe budget crisis as its oil income, which accounts for 95 percent of government revenues, has dropped by 60 percent over the past two years.