Σάββατο, 17 Δεκεμβρίου 2011

Κουβέιτ : δημοκρατία χωρίς κόμματα ;



Η αποκαλούμενη από τα δυτικά ΜΜΕ ως "Αραβική Άνοιξη" δεν έφτασε σε όλες τις αραβικές χώρες. Μία από αυτές είναι και το μικροσκοπικό Κουβέιτ, που η πολιτική του ηγεσία δείχνει να ελέγχει πλήρως τα πολιτικά πράγματα της χώρας, τουλάχιστον μέχρι στιγμής. 

Η γεωστρατηγική του θέση, η εγγύτητά του με το κατακερματισμένο Ιράκ και το απομονωμένο και βαθιά αντιδυτικό Ιράν δεν επιτρέπουν στο Κουβέιτ να αντέξει σημαντικές εσωτερικές αναταράξεις. Άλλωστε, οι Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες δεν θα επέτρεπαν κάτι τέτοιο έτσι κι αλλιώς. Έτσι, δεν πρέπει να θεωρείται καθόλου τυχαίο ότι ενώ σε όλες τις άλλες αραβικές χώρες οι κάθε μορφής ντιρεκτίβες που είχαν δοθεί επί προεδρίας Μπους περί επιτάχυνσης των διαδικασιών εκδημοκρατισμού έχουν ουσιαστικά είτε παγώσει (Ιορδανία) είτε εσπευσμένα επισπευθεί (Μαρόκο), το Κουβέιτ συνεχίζει να προχωρά με πολύ αργά βήματα προς την ανάπτυξη κάποιου είδους κοινοβουλευτικής δημοκρατίας.
Η έννοια της δημοκρατίας στη χώρα βρίσκεται ακόμα σε εμβρυακό στάδιο, αφού την τελευταία δεκαετία το κύριο θέμα πολιτικής αντιπαράθεσης ανάμεσα στις πολιτικές προσωπικότητες του Κουβέιτ είναι -ούτε λίγο, ούτε πολύ- η αναγνώριση ή μη στο δικαίωμα των γυναικών κατ'αρχάς να μπορούν να εκλέγουν και να εκλέγονται..

Παρ'όλ'αυτά, το Κουβέιτ αρχίζει σιγά σιγά να ξαναμπαίνει σε προεκλογικό κλίμα, εν όψει των κοινοβουλευτικών εκλογών του 2013, σε ένα πολιτικό σύστημα που δεν αναγνωρίζει πολιτικά κόμματα, δεν γνωρίζει την αρχή της δεδηλωμένης και -βέβαια- το φλέγον ζήτημα περί δικαιώματος των γυναικών να εκλέγονται και να έχουν λόγο στα πολιτικά πράγματα της χώρας να μην έχει τελείως λυθεί.

Μέσα σε αυτό το δημοκρατικά οξύμωρο κλίμα, ο κουβεϊτιανός πολιτικός επιστήμονας και αναλυτής Ghanim Alnajjar, στη συνέντευξή του στην αγγλόφωνη εφημερίδα του Κουβέιτ Arab Times εξηγεί γιατί η Αραβική Άνοιξη στις υπόλοιπες αραβικές χώρες είναι τελείως διαφορετική από την ανάλογη 'άνοιξη' που υπάρχει (υπάρχει άραγε;) στο Κουβέιτ. 

Ο καθηγητής AlNajjar διδάσκει πολιτικές επιστήμες στο πανεπιστήμιο του Κουβέιτ, έχοντας διδάξει και σε άλλα 43 πανεπιστήμια του εξωτερικού -μεταξύ των οποίων και στο Χάρβαρντ. Βραβεύθηκε από την αμερικανική ΜΚΟ για την προστασία των ανθρωπίνων δικαωμάτων Human Rights Watch και από το 2001 έως και το 2007 ορίσθηκε ανεξάρτητος εμπειρογνώμονας στην εξεταστική επιτροπή του ΟΗΕ για τη Σομαλία. Διευθύνει το επιστημονικό περιοδικό Gulf Studies Series Journal, που εκδίδεται στα Ηνωμένα Αραβικά Εμιράτα.



___________________________

Kuwait Spring Different - Eye on Reforms

Kuwait is facing its third election in three years in the slipstream of dramatic protests in which the country’s youth movements played no small role. Dr Ghannim Alnajjar, political analyst, pares down the various factors entangled in Kuwait’s politics to give readers a clear view of the actual stakes at play. He dismisses attempts to see the recent events in Kuwait on the same page as some of the revolutions that rocked the region this year as too far fetched. The Arab Spring had many different springs, and every one of them was unique. Kuwait’s spring is of an entirely different nature. In what ways? Read on. 


 
Q: How does the leadership of Kuwait look at the revolutions in the region? Do you think the protests in Kuwait had been inspired by these revolutions? 
A: We have to look at it from many different angles. Firstly, the events in Kuwait are noting new. They have been going on for the last two and a half years. They have nothing to do with the revolutions. New governments have come and gone in a short period of time. Two elections have already taken place in the last three years and this is the third one.
The protest is basically against government inefficiency. There are several levels of oppositions, and there are many issues at stake. Parliamentarians are only part of the broader opposition.
Just about a year ago, the government had adopted the measure of force to contain the opposition along with some political tactics in the Parliament. That was almost in synch with the beginning of the Arab spring.
It is wrong to paint all the uprisings in all the Arab countries with the same brush. Of course, the revolutions are together called the Arab Spring, but every spring was different in its scope, tenor and nature. The Libyan spring was different from the Bahraini spring, which was different from the Tunisian spring or the Egyptian spring. So every country had it differently.
Similarly, what is happening in Kuwait is very different from what’s happening in other countries. The people and the government of Kuwait were also keenly observing and taking various positions regarding the Arab Spring. Some support the Syrian regime, and some oppose it. Similarly there are people who support the Bahraini regime and some who oppose it. Rather amusingly, we find that those who support the Syrian regime, oppose the Bahraini regime and vice versa. Therefore it is all political, motivated by self interest.
The government too had its stance regarding different revolutions. HH the Amir himself was involved in Bahrain, when he tried to bring a negotiated settlement between the Bahraini regime and the opposition.

Q: Don’t you think the different opinions about the revolutions and their open debate in the society reflects Kuwait’s democratic culture?
A: Yes, it may be because of our openness, free speech, because we have a functioning Parliament, strong media and so forth.
It was one year ago, on Dec 8, 2010, that the government of Kuwait decided to go the way of confrontation. It was two pronged, one was to curtail the Parliament using majority. The stalemate ended just three weeks ago, when they decided to suspend the grilling of the Prime Minister.
Moreover, the government seemed ineffectual in handling the issue of the inflated bank accounts of some Parliamentarians. The last straw was the arrest of the forty protestors by the government.
Surely, the events in the Arab world have influenced the mindsets of the people here. But how deep the influence is remains to be seen.
So, for an outsider, who is unfamiliar with Kuwait’s political landscape, this may appear as a new development. But the truth is that there is nothing new. This has been going on for sometime, and what we are seeing is just the culmination of a long-drawn process.

Q: If nothing is new, then why do you think that the events have suddenly drawn such widespread attention all of a sudden?
A: As I said, what’s happening in Kuwait is mistakenly read as being part of the larger script unfolding in the region. It’s not so. Secondly, the only new factor in Kuwait is that the conflict that has all along existed between the Parliament and the government has now spilled out on to the streets, and the public for the first time has taken a very active participation in the protests.
I would say the youth activists played a more important role than the Parliamentarians this time round.

Q: Do you think there is greater responsibility on the people in Kuwait to act as the opposition, because the Parliament does not have a formal opposition bloc?
A: There are people who fit the definition of opposition in the Parliament. But, yes, they are not a cohesive group, because we don’t have political party system. Yet, there are almost 12 political parties in Kuwait, which though effective, don’t have a formal standing. However, they do exist, they function publicly, they deal with the government, the government negotiated with them recently. The Prime Minster and other ministers visited their offices. These groups have rented offices. So there are political parties in Kuwait, whether they call themselves that or not. They don’t exist in the Parliament or in terms of bylaws. Their representatives are there as MPs, but as a party they are not in the Parliament. So you can’t table a petition in the name your party. You have to do it individually, and that’s a weakness in the system.

Q: Wouldn’t it be better to bring about a change in the system and legalize these parties, instead of letting them wage proxy wars in the Parliament?
A: Yes. It definitely would be better. Talking of changes, until now all the demands for change have been within the framework of the constitution. There are no demands that are extra constitutional. The desire is only for political changes, no structural changes.
Something new happened in Kuwait with this crisis. With the departure of the Prime Minister, Sheikh Nasser Al Mohammed, we have for the first time in Kuwait what can be called a former Prime Minister. This has never happened before.
Yes, of course when the post of the Prime Minister and Crown Prince were separated, Sheikh Saad Al Abdullah, who was the prime minister then, had to abdicate the post of prime minister. That was a technical issue. But this is the first time a prime minister has had to leave the government due to real, political issues. This is history in Kuwait.

Q: This first in Kuwait... do you think this will have some kind of bearing on the elections this time?
A: Of course, it’s going to have an effect on the election. The former prime minister, and the deputy prime minister, who is now nominated Prime Minister, will pull the strings to try and influence the composition of the Parliament. They will work hard to make some candidates win and some lose. So we will see a very hotly contested election. The fight is going to be much tougher this time. Character assassinations will be the name of the game.
So, in short, the Arab Spring, while it has definitely had a bearing on the mindsets of the people here, our crisis predates any of the revolutions by far. So, it is not a new phenomenon. Secondly, there has not been any voice asking for a regime change in Kuwait, like in other countries of the region. All that they want is political reform. Kuwaiti spring is different.

Q: Do you think the protestors in Kuwait would be happy with some political reforms, while they know that most of the political problems are rooted basically in structural issues?
A: Some structural reforms have been asked for. For example, they want the Prime Minister to be from outside the ruling family. These would require changes in the constitution, which is a complex process. You will need a two-third majority in the Parliament backing the change and the approval of the Amir. In 1982, there was an attempt to bring about constitutional amendment aiming to give the Parliament the character of a consultative assembly. But it was seen as very risky, and though there was much support for it, the move couldn’t be taken through.

Q: Is there a demand for an elected government?
A: There are all kinds of ideas floating in the society. But I think those views are really far and few between. There is no strong cry for such a change towards a constitutional monarchy.
Moreover constitutional monarchy is understood in different ways in different parts of the world. In 2001, when Bahrain started feeling the rumblings of a crisis, they called the system there constitutional monarchy. Jordan claims to have a constitutional monarchy. Morocco also says it has a constitutional monarchy, while none of them is a constitutional monarchy in the full sense of the word.
The people here are wary of such a shakeup of the system. There is really no strong yearning for such a change.

Q: I just get this feeling from what you are saying that people are quite confused as to what they want, while the hunger for change is real. Is it true?
A: If we had not had the Arab Spring, this fear for change would have been much less here. Because we, in my assessment, don’t have a serious problem. There are political problems, yes, but the people are happy. The political problems have to do with a loss of direction, incompetence of leadership and so on. We also have a problem in the Parliament. The MPs have complete freedom to do what they want to do without any accountability. I mean, look at it, MPs were involved in fist fights in the Parliament. And nothing happened. HH the Amir had to interfere to resolve the crisis.
If there is an issue in the Parliament, the MPs don’t follow the method of dialogue. They drag the media into it and indulge in rhetoric. This escalates the problem. There is no crisis that can’t be settled through negotiation.

Q: In the backdrop of all that you just said, what do you think would be the dominant issues in this election?
A:
The main slogan will be anti-corruption. Some candidates I think will raise the issue of Kuwait’s future. The constitutional court issued a verdict supporting the law criminalizing tribal primaries. That came just two days before the dissolution of the Parliament. The verdict, though merely coincidental, has been very timely, because Kuwait is going into fresh elections, and as everyone knows, tribal primaries are an important feature in all our elections.
So a person who runs for tribal primaries is not only defying the law, but also the constitution. As a result, we have at least five MPs, who won the last elections through tribal primaries, announcing that they will not take part in tribal primaries in this election. This is a major improvement.

Q: What will be the consequence if candidates still run for tribal primaries?
A:
That they will. But what I am saying is that there is greater tendency to opt out of primaries, especially because five powerful former MPs have announced that they wouldn’t take part in primaries.
Moreover, most of the youth movements who played such an important role in bringing about change are against primaries. Therefore, the candidates will be wary of antagonizing them by running primaries.
Then there will also be a group of candidates who will base their election rhetoric on opposing the opposition. There is space for that too.

Q: What will be the claim of this group? What issues will they raise in their bid to oppose the opposition?
A:
They will claim that Kuwait is backward because of the opposition. We have to get rid of them to take Kuwait on the path of development. You should vote for people who have constructive ideas, and who are willing to expend Kuwait’s resources and energy in the right direction.

Q: So, these are people who are basically pro government?
A:
Not necessary, because anyone who present themselves as being pro government will be viewed in a dim light. This will work against them. They will be labeled immediately. Because it is public knowledge that the previous government is funding some candidates. So, those who oppose the opposition will not talk in favor of the government, but they will raise the larger issues of development and stability, which the common man easily identifies with.
Otherwise it would be suicidal for candidates to claim to be pro government. Nobody would say at this stage that the former Prime Minister will be reinstated after the fresh elections. We have a former prime minister and a former deputy prime minister, who are trying to make a comeback. So, it will be very interesting to watch how the power equations will be played out in the coming days. You have ruling family members playing each other by supporting candidates. These are not new things in Kuwait, and have happened all the time. But this time, the clash is going to be stronger and fierier.

Q: How are the youth movements feeling now that they have scored a victory?
A:
Surely, they have a feeling of achievement. They are in full gear. Most of them were detained. And we have to understand that in any civil, peaceful protest, imprisonment only makes the movement stronger. That’s why billed this act of the government to detain the protestors as the most terrible mistake. The government actually strengthened the movement.
Now the youth movement will quadruple. Not necessarily in numbers, but in terms of enthusiasm. Now, it’s fresh elections and they have more work to do. Now is the golden chance for pull things into their orbit. They can influence candidates, apply pressure on them to agree to their demands.
If the youth movements get together, they have differences between them - at least temporarily for the election, they will be in a very strong position. The most important quality of these youth movements is that they are not connected to MPs in any way. They are independent. These groups have announced it publicly, many times.

Every election, if you have been closely following elections in Kuwait, has some new elements in it. For example, 2006 elections had fewer constituencies for the first time. And then in 2008, you had women candidates actively taking part in elections, although they had gained the right to run for election in 2006. In 2009, we actually had the first female MPs. This time, the new element is the role of youth.
The way the issue of corruption will be viewed in this election will also be new. It will be taken with much more intensity than in previous elections, because now the case of MPs having bank accounts disproportionate to their incomes has gone to the public prosecutor, and the Central Bank Investigation Bureau has also been involved. So, this is new. At least 13 former MPs are under the shadow of suspicion.

The picture will get clearer as we get closer to the elections. Because we still don’t know who is running and who is not running, and what sort of alliances are likely to emerge. As you know, in Kuwait we have a rather unique system of voting, where we can vote for four candidates out of 10 candidates in each constituency. To me, it doesn’t make sense. Probably, the rationale behind it is that they don’t want to create room for monopolies.
In this system, candidates sometimes get into alliances or they indulge in exchanging votes. In an alliance, two candidates might decide to face the elections together, campaigning together and asking their followers to vote for both of them. Under vote exchange, two candidates would instigate their vote bank to also vote for the other candidate, thereby increasing their polls.
If the names of candidates who are actually discussing these alliances are brought to light, people might be surprised. They could be people from different ends of the political spectrum. In the earlier system of 25 constituencies, each voter could cast only two votes, and so this was not possible.

biography
Dr Ghannim Alnajjar is Professor of Political Science at Kuwait University and editor of the Gulf Studies Series Journal, UAE. From 1999 to 2002 he was Director of the Centre for Strategic and Future Studies at Kuwait University and has been visiting scholar at several universities such as Harvard University. Dr Alnajjar has lectured on an occasional basis in more than 43 universities, academic institutions, and think tanks across the world. He introduced, through the Kuwaiti Parliament, the concept of producing the first annual report on the human rights situation in Kuwait, and was appointed as the chairman of the committee that produced the first report. He has been active in the field of human rights protection for which he earned the International Monitor Award by Human Rights Watch in New York 1991. Between 2001 and 2007 he was the UN Independent Expert on Human Rights in Somalia, appointed by the UN Secretary General. 


2 σχόλια:

despinarion2 είπε...

Καλοριζικο! Εκανα ποδαρικο κι ελπιζω να σου φερει τυχη και πολλα απο τα κλικς που αγαπας!

Γαβριηλ / Gabriel είπε...

αοφύ το πρώτο σχόλιο είναι δικό σου δεσποινάριόν μου, θα πάει περίφημα