The Political System of Kuwait

An overview of the political system of Kuwait

The State of Kuwait is a constitutional emirate with a parliamentary system of government. Kuwait gained independence from the UK on June 19, 1961. Its constitution, which combines aspects of both presidential and parliamentary systems of government, was approved and put into effect in 1962.

Executive Branch:

The chief of state is the Emir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jabir al- Sabah (since 2006), and the Crown Prince is Nawafal-Ahmad al-Jabir al-Sabah.

The head of government is the Prime Minister, Jabir Al-Mubarak al-Hamad al-Sabah (since 2011). The first Deputy Prime Minister is Ahmad al-Hamud al-Jabir al-Sabah, and the Deputy Prime Ministers are Ahmad Al-Khalid al-Hamad al-Sabah, Sabah Al-Khalid al-Hamad al-Sabah, and Mustafa al-Jassim al-Shamali.

The Emir is a hereditary position, and it is the Emir who appoints the prime minister and deputy prime ministers.

There is a Cabinet/Council of Ministers that is appointed by the Prime Minister and approved by the Emir, with the most recent cabinet being formed in February 2012.

Legislative Branch:

Kuwait's National Assembly has 66 seats, of which 50 are elected by popular vote and 16 cabinet ministers are appointed by the Prime Minster). Elected members serve four years. (The most recent elections were in February 2012.)

Judicial Branch:

Kuwait has a civil law system, with Sharia law significantly used for personal matters. The judiciary is independent. In each of the country's six governorates there is a summary court. There is also a court of appeals, a Cassation Court, and a Constitutional Court.

Other:

There are a number of political groups that act as de facto parties and several legislative voting blocs in the National Assembly (i.e., tribal groups, merchants, Shi'ite activists, secular liberals, etc.), but formation of political parties is in practice illegal.

Adult males and females (since 2005) aged 21+ are allowed to vote; naturalized citizens can vote only after they have been citizens for at least 20 years. Males in the military or who are members of the police are not allowed to vote.

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