Kuwait’s Parliamentary Revolution

The world has been transfixed by the victory of Hamas in the Palestinian election. But a different assertion of democratic and parliamentary power, this time in the Gulf sheikdom of Kuwait, which possesses 10% of world oil reserves, may prove to be equally important. Every sign indicates that the wave of democratization in Kuwait is irreversible, and the impact of these changes extends beyond Kuwait to all the other oil-rich Gulf countries, which are also ruled by emirs and sheikhs.

Indeed, these rulers now have much to ponder. The death of Kuwait’s ruler, Sheikh Jaber al-Sabah, on January 15, 2006, was followed by unprecedented national disquiet, which led to the rapid abdication of his designated successor, Saad Al Sabah. Nothing like this had ever hit the Al Sabah family, which has ruled Kuwait for two centuries.

Traditionally, the role of ruling Emir alternated (according to a tacit agreement) between two rival branches of the Al Sabah family – the Al Jaber and the Al Salem.  The succession was always strictly a family affair, and any disputes remained behind closed doors. However, with Sheikh Jaber al-Sabah’s death, the succession was not only subjected to feverish public debate, but the Kuwaiti press and Parliament were key actors in determining the outcome.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.


Log in

  1. China corruption Isaac Lawrence/Getty Images

    The Next Battle in China’s War on Corruption

    • Chinese President Xi Jinping knows well the threat that corruption poses to the authority of the Communist Party of China and the state it controls. 
    • But moving beyond Xi's anti-corruption purge to build robust and lasting anti-graft institutions will not be easy, owing to enduring opportunities for bureaucratic capture.
  2. Italy unemployed demonstration SalvatoreEsposito/Barcroftimages / Barcroft Media via Getty Images

    Putting Europe’s Long-Term Unemployed Back to Work

    Across the European Union, millions of people who are willing and able to work have been unemployed for a year or longer, at great cost to social cohesion and political stability. If the EU is serious about stopping the rise of populism, it will need to do more to ensure that labor markets are working for everyone.

  3. Latin America market Federico Parra/Getty Images

    A Belt and Road for the Americas?

    In a time of global uncertainty, a vision of “made in the Americas” prosperity provides a unifying agenda for the continent. If implemented, the US could reassert its historical leadership among a group of countries that share its fundamental values, as well as an interest in inclusive economic growth and rising living standards.

  4. Startup office Mladlen Antonov/Getty Images

    How Best to Promote Research and Development

    Clearly, there is something appealing about a start-up-based innovation strategy: it feels democratic, accessible, and so California. But it is definitely not the only way to boost research and development, or even the main way, and it is certainly not the way most major innovations in the US came about during the twentieth century.

  5. Trump Trade speech Bill Pugliano/Getty Images .

    Preparing for the Trump Trade Wars

    In the first 11 months of his presidency, Donald Trump has failed to back up his words – or tweets – with action on a variety of fronts. But the rest of the world's governments, and particularly those in Asia and Europe, would be mistaken to assume that he won't follow through on his promised "America First" trade agenda.