Prospects for Political Reform in Kuwait. An Analysis of Recent Events

The succession crisis which rocked Kuwait for ten days in January 2006, far from ushering in a new era, re-instated the ruling groups who have dominated Kuwait’s political life in the past decades. Moreover, there will not be any meaningful reform while the ruling families continue to narrowly defend their interests in the face of widespread public support for an end to corruption and greater political openness. The Government’s deliberate sidetracking of proposals to change electoral constituencies has further frustrated efforts for political reform. For reform to take place, Kuwait will need to change its traditional decision-making process, overcome political and financial corruption, , reduce the role of fundamentalists - both Sunni and Shi’a - in politics, see the awakening of liberal and secular forces, and witness a return of the merchant class’s traditional political influence.