- Kuwait Times Extra
By Nawara Fattahova, Staff Writer
KUWAIT: Elections 2012 elections passed off smoothly amidst an atmosphere of calmness with Kuwaitis above the age of 21, men and women, trudging to the polling venue from 8am onwards yesterday. Polling stations across the country registered about 25 per cent balloting on an average in the early hours. The percentage varied from one district to another. Even within the same district, different areas registered a various voting patterns.
With the election scheduled for Saturday, a day after the weekly holiday, most people were expected to turn up late at the polling venues and the voting percentage was expected to increase as the day wore on, judges and candidates expected. Also, many people who would have gone to the camps or their chalets were expected to return late and thus vote during evening hours. In general, the voting percentage was described as good, and proved that Friday’s protest failed to leave much impact on the people who did not refrain from voting.
Voting at the First constituency witnessed one of the highest instances of participation with nearly 34 per cent exercising their right to franchise in some areas such as Rumeythiya. The main committee in the first district was at Sayid Mohammed Al-Musawi School in Rumeythiya for men where, according to Judge Owayid Al-Thuweimer, the Head of the committee, nearly 34 percent of the electorate had cast their votes by noon.
“A total of 232 voters out of 669 registered voters have already cast their ballot. This is a very good percentage, and we expect even much larger numbers to turn up in the evening. There was only one illiterate man who voted verbally. He told me the name (of the candidate he wanted to give his vote to) and I marked it for him without any family member being in attendance,” he told the Kuwait Times.
Judge Khalid Al-Asousi from Al-Mugheera Ibn Noufal School in Salwa said that at the venue where he was, participation reached about 27 percent by noon as 131 of the 518 registered voters in this committee had voted. Candidate and former MP Adnan Abdulsamad agreed that voter participation was good, irrespective of the threatening campaigns of the opposition that targeted both voters and candidates. “The elections and the voting process were very much organized, and I expect that voting will increase during the afternoon, and I wish good luck to all,” he said.
On her part, candidate Jinan Bushihri was optimistic and expressed her satisfaction with the voting percentages registered in the morning. “The Kuwaitis are now aware of the importance of voting and realize their responsibility to participate in developing Kuwait,” she noted. Candidate Abdulhameed Dashti described the attendance as “great” and wondered whatever happened to the boycott call of the opposition. “We witnessed the electorate from all categories voting and I am sure that the percentage will be as usual. This is the first election in which we did not notice buses crossing the borders transferring people to vote (a reference to citizens with dual nationality from a neighbor country),” he noted.
“If this parliament gets good MPs, the decree of one vote will be approved. Otherwise certain changes may be made and the decree may be modified. I expect the voting percentage to be between 50-60 percent. I am optimistic about these elections and also about the fact that the Kuwaitis were not swayed by the protests,” he added. There are a total of 74,879 voters, men and women, in the first constituency, who were to vote for 51 candidates in this segment, including three women. The elderly and disabled citizens were the first to cast their votes in the ballot boxes, reaching the venue early in the morning.
The second constituency witnessed nearly the same percentage of voting with 24 percent of the electorate casting their votes in the morning. As compared to previous elections, there were lesser number of flyers and cards with candidates’ pictures peering out, usually distributed during the elections.
At the main committee in Shamiya Girls School, 147 voters of the total 654 came to vote before noon. In the other committees in this constituency, the percentage was even higher, crossing 30 percent in one of them. The total number of voters in Shamiya area from all committees is 6121.
The Head of the main committee at Al Jazaer School, Consultant Essam Al-Sadani, said that voting progress was good, and while voters from all age groups were trooping in, the older citizens seem to be outnumbering the young ones. He also praised the organizational efforts being put in by policemen. Former Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohamed voted in the Second constituency and exclaimed his joy at enjoying this innately democratic moment as a sort of celebration.
The situation was similar at the Third constituency where voting percentage hovered at around 25. At the women committee in Saad Bin Obada School in Adeliya, 155 voters out of 615 voted till 12:00 noon. While at the men’s committee in Abdullah Al-Otaibi School in Khaldiya area, 170 of the total 650 voters exercised their right by noon. Activists connected to certain candidates’ campaign were handing out brochures and cards with the candidates’ photos and names in front of some schools, but such material was confiscated by the security guards stationed at the entrance to the ballot venues.
Candidate and former MP, Ahmed Al-Mileifi, who is also a former minister, expressed satisfaction with the progress of voting since morning, and appreciated the efforts of the senior citizens, some of whom even came on wheelchairs just to vote. Describing these elections as special, he said, “It was the first time that elections were being held on one voter-one vote basis. Hence, the voters now know that their vote was precious and are careful about whom to vote for. People should be positive and must participate in voting to rectify the mistakes that they see happening.”
“The most important issues which will vie for priority as the next parliament is formed will be issues related to health, education, youth and sports, and women. I hope that the next parliament cooperates with the government for the benefit of this country and securing a better future,” stated Al-Mileifi.
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