Kuwait: Democracy trumps reform?


Kuwait stands out from many other Arab states: it has a comparatively functional, stable, and peaceful system of parliamentary elections, including successful opposition candidates, a media environment freer than most, and an active network of relatively independent civil society organizations, notes David Pollock, the director of The Washington Institute’s Project Fikra, a program designed to promote positive change and counter the spread of extremism:

Yet, six years after the Arab Spring, Kuwait presents many political paradoxes. Almost a constitutional monarchy, but with a royal family that rules as well as reigns, it has one of the most active and empowered democratically elected parliaments of any Arab state. Nevertheless, that parliament more frequently blocks rather than bolsters real political, social, or economic reform. Moreover, sectarian tensions between the Sunni majority and the large Shia minority have risen steadily during these years. Still, on the whole, this small country remains, especially compared to so many other Arab societies, a model of “consensual sects.”


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