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Reassessing Democracy - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Prince Talal Bin Abdulaziz recently spoke on the resignation of the Kuwaiti government; an issue that has engrossed the country in heated discussions over the concept of “democracy” and its problems in Kuwait.

Prince Talal called for a reassessment of Kuwaiti democracy, saying “Countries of the region welcome the emergence of Kuwaiti democracy. However, to be frank and out of my deep love and loyalty to this country, I must assert that we need to reconsider the progress of Kuwaiti democracy as well as its mechanisms but not the essence of democracy itself.”

The bottom line of Prince Talal Bin Abdulaziz’s comments is put forward in Kuwaiti forums; however some observations need to be clarified. The core of the problem is that in a democratic country where laws are enacted through parliament, where ministers are questioned and votes of confidence are cast through parliament, a Prime Minister cannot act without a parliamentary majority that support the laws that he issues and his political and economic programs. This is a major problem, since governments in most successive Kuwaiti parliaments were unsupported. This was a result of the fact that they could not achieve a parliamentary majority for many reasons, the primary of which is the absence of political parties and interventions of the executives in the democratic process.

Most people recall that the years in which the parliament was dissolved and power was unilaterally overridden were much worse than the years in which parliaments were incompetent. Most of the problems suffered by Kuwait were due to decisions and actions that had taken place in light of the absence of parliament and under authoritarianism. The government had never dissolved the parliament and acted better than parliament did, nor had it inaugurated an economic or political program despite its full freedom to do so in the absence of parliament.

Prince Talal was clear enough through his comments about a reconsideration of the mechanisms of the democratic process and not the essence of the democratic process. However, the reason behind the anger as a result of the comments is that Kuwaitis are saying the same thing as Prince Talal, however they are sensitive and afraid of any false readings of criticizing democracy as the popular proverb says, ‘He who is burnt fears fire.’ Kuwaitis sought to run their own country without a parliament and the result was tragic.