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Last Updated: Friday, 30 June 2006, 07:01 GMT 08:01 UK
Reformist gains in Kuwaiti vote
A Kuwaiti woman casts her vote at a polling station in Salwa, Kuwait City
It was an historic day for women in Kuwait
Kuwaiti reformists campaigning on an anti-corruption platform, some of them Islamists, have made strong gains in parliamentary elections.

But women, who were voting and standing for the first time, have failed to win any seats.

State media reported a high turnout in the election, in which women made up 57% of the electorate.

A push for reform in the new parliament may help women candidates at the next election, the BBC's Julia Wheeler says.

There were 28 female candidates, out of a total of 252 candidates, standing for 50-seat parliament.

Two of the women candidates topped 1,000 votes but were beaten by their male rivals, AFP news agency reports.

The opposition reformists - many of whom are Islamists - gained four seats, taking their total number of seats in parliament to 33.

State media reported a turnout of up to 78% in some voting centres.

Parliamentary boycott

By electing reformist candidates, the voters have sent a clear message to the government that they want change in Kuwaiti society, our correspondent says.

Map of Kuwait

The results also suggest there will be confrontation between the reformists and the government, she adds.

During their campaign, the opposition candidates had promised to table a bill to reduce the number of voting districts from 25 to five - instead of the 10 backed by the cabinet.

They argue that the existence of a large number of small constituencies in which the 340,000-strong electorate can vote promotes corruption and vote-buying.

A dispute over the issue led opposition MPs to boycott parliament. The emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, dissolved parliament and called early elections.


Kuwait's parliament is considered to be the strongest of those in the Gulf monarchies, and the National Assembly often expresses differences of opinion with cabinet in a robust fashion.

However the emir has the final word on most government policies and key cabinet posts are held by members of the ruling family.

Many candidates made fighting alleged corruption in the ruling elite a key issue.

There are frequent allegations of vote-buying by pro-government candidates and fears among reformists that Kuwait's rulers want to turn the parliament into a rubber-stamp body.

The 50 elected seats in parliament are held for four years, unless the emir dissolves the body.

See women voting in Kuwait

Kuwaiti women's time has come
29 Jun 06 |  Middle East
First for women in Kuwait election
27 Jun 06 |  Middle East
Q&A: Kuwait election
26 Jun 06 |  Middle East
Kuwaiti leader calls new election
21 May 06 |  Middle East
Conservatism threatens Kuwaiti reforms
21 Jan 06 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Country profile: Kuwait
09 May 06 |  Country profiles

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