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a. Rulers
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a. Figures
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Index / Political situation /
Open map of KuwaitFlag of KuwaitKuwait /
Political situation

List of figuresRulers of Kuwait
National Assembly
Seats. Election July 5, 2003
Islamist candidates 21
Pro-government candidates 14
Liberals 3
Independent candidates 12

The Kuwaiti Constitution was promulgated on November 16, 1962, but several articles have been suspended by the Emir over the years.
The Constitution declares that Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state, ruled by an Emir heir to Mubarak as Sabah (died 1915). The Emir has executive power, exercising this through the Council of Ministers. The Emir appoints the Prime Minister, and appoints and dismisses ministers on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is usually the Crown Prince. The most important positions in the government, like foreign affairs, defence, interior, finance and oil are filled with members from the ruling Sabah clan.
The Emir also formulates laws, but all laws will have to be national assembly, Majlis. The legal system was codified in 1960, and there are strong traces of influence from Sharia. Even if it is liberal in some fields, as for women's position in the social context, it is marked by much conservatism in other fields, like control of moral behaviour. The Emir is also in charge of establishing public institutions.
The judicial system is divided into two categories, the constitutional court and the ordinary courts. The two lowest ordinary courts are the Traffic Court and Summary Court. Above the Summary Court is the Court of First Instance, then Court of Appeal and highest the Court of Cassation.
Kuwait is divided into 5 governorates, Al Ahmadi (313,000 inhabitants, Farwaniya (498,000 inhabitants), Hawalli (496,000 inhabitants), Al Jahra (252,000 inhabitants) and Kuwait Capital (305,000 inhabitants) (all 1998 estimates). 3 of these are governed by members from the Sabah clan.

National assembly
The national assembly has 50 members, and of the time being only 13% of the population has the right to vote. Only literate natural-born Kuwaiti male citizens above the age of 21 can vote, with the exception of servicemen and police.
Candidates to the Majlis must be above the age of 30 and literate. Members are elected for a period of 4 years. The Majlis can be dissolved by the Emir, something that has happned twice. New elections must be held within 2 months of the dissolution. In the meantime, the Emir rules by decree. The consequence of Kuwaiti politics, is that the power distribution between the Emir and the Majlis has been under constant testing.
In the elections for the Majlis in 1999, 20 seats were won by Islamist candidates, 14 by liberals, 12 by pro-Government candidates and 4 by independent candidates.

By Tore Kjeilen