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Kuwait elections yield record low turnout



Saturday’s parliamentary election in Kuwait yielded the lowest voter turnout rate in the country’s five decade voting history as tens of thousands rallied to boycott the election.

Only 40.3 percent of eligible voters participated in the election, about 20 percent lower than parliamentary elections held in February. Elections in 2008 and 2009 also saw about six in 10 voters cast ballots.

An Al-Akhbar correspondent in Kuwait said both sides claimed victory.

The government insists 40 percent is still a significant number and will use the election results to rule by its perceived mandate, while the opposition says the low turnout reveals the government maintains little support.

The opposition, a coalition of Islamists, nationalists and tribal figures, swept parliamentary elections earlier this year.

Kuwait’s emir, Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, dissolved parliament on October 1, then amended the voting law that gave pro-government candidates an edge in elections, sparking weeks of angry opposition protests.

The opposition had vowed to boycott the election unless the voting amendment was overturned.

Several opposition leaders were arrested over the past two months for criticizing the emir, who is considered “inviolable“ by the constitution.

The al-Sabah family has ruled Kuwait for over 250 years. The emir, crown prince, prime minister and key cabinet ministers all hail from the ruling family.

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