Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Kuwait: Punishing the Symbols of Chaos But… | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The results of the elections in Kuwait were surprising following the dissolving of three parliaments and the holding of three parliamentary elections all in the course of three years. This time the Kuwaiti voter has brought down the symbols of chaos in what appears to be a popular correction movement. Nevertheless, Kuwaiti parliament will remain a source of political tension until all parties concerned, the legislative authority, the executive authority and the supreme political leadership are convinced that correcting the system is far more important than winning votes in the elections. Whilst correcting the system is a permanent issue, [winning] votes is only a temporary matter.

After these experiences, there must be a party in Kuwait that plans to amend the constitution, to correct the rights and duties in the relationship between the Kuwaiti parliament on the one hand, and the Kuwaiti government and society on the other. The time is right for presenting such a project or creating it. One of the pillars of the constitution is to protect the rights of individuals and groups, and especially to protect freedoms that have been trampled on by parliamentarians over the past few years in the name of democracy and the [parliament] majority. Books and arts have been banned and opinion writers have been called to account.

Parliamentarians believe that this is their right and that they possess that right in the name of the system, which gives them the authority to grant or take away personal freedoms, meaning that everything that has been accomplished by the Kuwaitis over the past 50 years is being undone in the name of democracy and parliamentary representation. This is not the problem in Kuwait alone; we find that the same problem exists in many developing democratic experiences that grant the parliament the right to decide for each and every citizen based on the pretext that they are the representatives of the nation.

The other part of this relationship that requires rectifying is related to the protection of the government from parliamentary blackmail, especially as the government goes too far in making the most of the competences granted to it in carrying out interpellations. Some might view interpellations as a pillar of democracy and this would be the case if these interpellations caused deterrence and did not lead to the dissolving of the entire government and if they had not been disruptive to the projects carried out in a country that completely lives off government services. This means giving the government a chance to work by protecting it from collapsing. The parliament may be granted the right to approve cabinet ministers when they are first chosen. After that, ministers should remain immune to ousting except in serious cases and where constitutional violations have been committed.

At present, a small number of MPs could ruin the career of any minister, drag the entire government into a dark hole and prevent any project from being carried out. This non-stop chaos is attributed to a defect in the structure of the political society owing to the absence of political parties, which are considered the core of parliamentary activity. The governing party usually plays the role of custodian within parliament.

Without getting to the source of the problem, the political crisis in Kuwait will continue. There might even be an escalation with the intensification of disputes and the increase of settling scores between different parties.

It is here that we can interpret the vote of the Kuwaiti citizen who managed to bring down disorder this time simply by refusing to misuse his vote and by seeking a constructive relationship. It is impossible to build a constructive relationship without the existence of constitutional foundations, given that the constitution is far more sovereign than parliament. Moreover, a constructive relationship does not mean that MPs should forego their right to carry out interpellations and to call people to account. It simply means that this should be regulated.