By B Izzak
KUWAIT: A field survey conducted on a sample of Kuwaiti voters regarding the single-vote election system showed that 83.8 percent of those polled want the system to be changed because it has harmed the country. The single-vote system was introduced by the government through an Amiri decree in late 2012 and was implemented for the first time in the Dec 2012 general election. Its introduction led opposition groups and independents to boycott the election.
Under the system, each Kuwaiti voter is allowed to elect only one candidate in a constituency which elects 10 MPs. Previously, each voter was allowed to elect up to four candidates. The system has drastically curbed the influence of political groups on the National Assembly. The survey, prepared by the Gulf and Arabian Peninsula Center at Kuwait University, found that 82 percent of those polled said the system failed to curb sectarian, tribal and factional factors in the society.
Around 70 percent of those polled said the system failed to achieve a fair representation of all groups and sections of the Kuwaiti society, while 71 percent said the system led to the weakening of national unity. In addition, 85 percent said the system failed to end vote-buying practices.
In other election news, MP Safa Al-Hashem yesterday took credit for filing a proposal that called for all expats who reach 60 years to leave the country to reduce pressure on public services. Hashem, bidding for re-election from the third constituency, said in a television interview that expats who have reached 60 have worked for a sufficient time and earned enough, and it’s time for them to leave. The lawmaker, who regularly targets expats in her speeches, said she proposed to give an additional 15 years of stay in the country for expats who hold rare degrees.
Also, as many as 56 candidates running in the Dec 5 election signed a pledge that if they win seats, they will push to issue a law that guaranteeing a general pardon for those jailed over political issues. The law will allow the return of several Kuwaiti opposition figures who have been living in self-exile for the past two years to escape a jail sentence against them for storming the National Assembly building during a protest in 2011. The law will also facilitate national reconciliation. More candidates are expected to sign the pledge.
Meanwhile, the interior ministry said yesterday that online registration for illegal expats has opened. People who want to legalize their stay or obtain a permit to leave the country must register on the interior ministry’s website. The ministry said the six residency departments will receive a total of 2,400 expats every day. People who want to legalize their stay and those who want to leave must pay fines. The amnesty runs from Dec 1 to 31.