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Views: Kuwaiti elections results

18 May 09 14:19 GMT

Kuwaitis have elected women to their parliament for the first time. The four successful female candidates are among 21 new MPs. The Emir dissolved the previous parliament because it wanted to question the prime minister over corruption. Most of his critics have been re-elected.

Kuwaitis give their verdict on the results.

" I am still flying after this result! "

Nadia al-Sharrah

" Nothing will change, it will be the same deadlock. "

Abdulla Othman

" Women are not yet ready to be in politics. "

Zaid al-Nasser

" I am so happy at this wonderful result! "

Nour al-Attar

" The women won because they were the best qualified, not because they were women. "

Monira al-Qatami

" Having women in parliament will make a big difference. "

Muhannad al-Nafeesi

Nadia al-Sharrah, 40s, economist

"I was head of the campaign team for one of the successful women candidates, Aseel al-Awadhi. I am still flying after this result! We must enjoy it.

We knew she'd done it two hours before the polls closed, from results coming into our campaign centre. But I stayed calm in front of my staff, we had to keep getting the vote out for the best result possible.

Aseel missed getting a seat last time by just 650 votes, this time society really decided to put their confidence in women. Voters were also more comfortable with the earlier electoral changes, which reduced the number of electoral districts.

The Islamists tried so hard to stop women getting into parliament. They played a dirty game, and people didn't like it. They've lost seats.

The election of four women sends a very strong message to the government that people want change. Cabinet members must be appointed on their own merits, not because of who their father is.



Abdulla Othman, 46, university teacher

"I still don't think anything will change, it'll be the same deadlock. If parliament tries to grill the prime minister, the cabinet will resign.

Three of the MPs who wanted to grill the prime minister have all been re-elected. Give them a couple of weeks and they'll want to do the same again, I'm sure.

The only possibility is if the Emir appoints a new prime minister. But I suspect he won't. The irony is, the prime minister toured the elections booths and voted!

I think the two youngest female candidates look good. But as for all the other candidates, they are incompetent!



Zaid al-Nasser, 24, lawyer

"I am generally satisfied with the results. However, I am little surprised and displeased that four women made it this time.

I still believe that women are ill-equipped to be involved in the political sphere at the moment; women need at least ten to fifteen years of political experience before being eligible for politics and parliament.

I think the Shia candidates did well because they worked as a team. If the tribal Islamists had shown the same loyalty to each other as the Shia group, they wouldn't have lost so many seats. I still hope this parliament will be better than the last ones, but I'm not sure it will be. I hope the new candidates are ready for their new responsibilities.



Nour al-Attar, 22, banker

"I am so happy at this wonderful result. I congratulate the people of Kuwait, this is a really big change for us, especially for women.

I voted for Rula Dashti because she is the one I trust. I wanted to vote for Massuma al-Mubarak [who was appointed Kuwait's first female minister in 2005] but she wasn't in my district.

She is a really strong woman. To all those men who opposed having women in parliament - 14,000 people disagreed with you and voted Massuma top in her district. I'm really thrilled!

I am really happy the Islamists lost seats because they just want to make trouble and take our freedom. I am happy the Shia doubled their seats for the first time, I am sure change is coming! Congratulations to [Kuwait's ruler] our father Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah; we love you and we will never let you down.



Monira al-Qatami, 24, assistant TV producer

"The women won their seats because they were the best qualified, not because they are women.

I think we will still have problems with parliament and the government, we still have a long way to go. But at least women will be there. Women fight differently.

One of the women MPs, Rola Dashta is an economist, she needs to be in parliament because one of the first things they must do is sort out the stimulus package.

I know that another candidate, Dr Massuma al-Mubarak wants to go all the way to the top. She has the popular vote, coming top in her district. I think they should appoint her Prime Minister!

I don't worry that all this optimism will lead to disappointment. Each woman has already been successful in her own field. If there is disappointment, it will be in other areas of the government, and that is their issue. This is just the start.



Muhannad al-Nafeesi, 42, aviation safety inspector

"I'm very surprised at the results, we all are in Kuwait. It's a violent liberal movement here in Kuwait! I didn't vote in the end.

It will make a big difference having women in parliament - but I'm not sure which direction they will go in.

Sunni candidates lost seats because they don't listen to advice. The Shias who won more seats are a new breed; I'm not saying they are anti-Iran, but they will be different from the last lot.

If the government plays it right and backs Ahmad al-Saadoun for PM, then 50% of the tension between parliament and the government will fade away. I'm very hopeful, we need to move forward.

Achieving stability between parliament and government is the most important thing. Reforming health and education issues are also important.

I was wrong when I doubted women would make it to Parliament, I'll be observing events closely.



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