Sunday, March 23, 2008

How we vote...

Many people know how they're going to vote. I mean we are in Kuwait after all. Everyone's got a relative, a friend of a friend, or someone whom they view as the superior candidate for Parliament given their family background or even history in politics.

For those few Kuwaitis out there who don't know how they're going to vote, there usually is a self-imposed criterion that one tries to follow. It differs from person to person, and the range that it stretches is in itself humorous.

Let's take the 4th Electoral District for example: In these areas they're will most likely be primaries held by tribal leaders. Headlines of Kuwaiti Newspapers today say the government will be firm and unrelenting in anyone found participating in this illegal activity. They've said that before, and alas, the primaries still happen. In such cases, the voting criteria is reduced to which branch or "fi5udh" the potential MP originates from. If he is from your branch, than it is only right that you vote for him, regardless of whether or not he is directly related. For those who chose to participate in these illegal primaries, but vote based on substance, there is a high probability of those votes being diluted.

Another criteria held in some of the other districts is the infamous: "what has this person done for me or my family?" Now, while you may think that there are worse foundations on which to vote, what is meant by this statement should not be confused with "what issues has this person championed that express what I want for the future of Kuwait?"….Its more like "how many parking tickets did he get me out of and did he fly my uncle to Switzerland for a routine tonsillectomy when we wanted him to?" You see the distinction of course.

Then there are those who vote for people that express their core beliefs and morals, which is mostly how its done in western democracy. If you are pro-choice, you vote for the pro-choice candidate, if you are a farmer, you vote for the one with the best agricultural plan, etc. In Kuwait, if you are a liberal, islamist, tribal, shiite, shiite islamist, and derivations of the aforementioned, you vote accordingly.

Nevertheless, there is a new election criteria that more and more Kuwaitis are adopting. In a lot of ways, its unique to this election and if you subscribe to that type of thought, may be the best way to go about your voting. Simply put: "never again". Many people are saying that anyone who was a part of the previous parliament has already lost all credibility as a beacon of change. Those who didn't participate in crisis creation remained silent instead. Those who did speak to no avail never possessed enough influence to make a difference so shouldn't be re-elected on that grounds. Hence the slogan: never again.

On a personal level, I don't subscribe to any one of these methods, but more of a combination of them all. However, I can't help but feel that this process cost us something very dear, when we people become convinced that democracy isn't working. One thing is for certain, if we can't change the way we view the election process, all Kuwait can expect is more of the same.

10 comments:

eshda3wa said...

i dont believe any change is going to come about, and most probably nafs ewyooh elwadra ra7 etred elmajlis
people that work for their own benifit and no one elses...

allah y3eenich ya kuwait

falantan said...

I 2nd eshda3wa, I don't think the different "process" will produce a "better" (or worse) parliament. The people are the same people.

"innama yowalla 3alaikom minkom"

Q80 Saracen said...

eshda3wa: Its interesting. A lot of people think the way you do about this, that as long as the goals are self-indulgent, there is no chance of a better majlis...So maybe our democracy is flawed and needs to be tweaked. (Not less freedom, or more freedom...just tweaked because this isn't working and hasn't worked in a very long time... Eeee wulla, allah y3eenich ya Kuwait.

Lone Ranger'ess said...

a change wont come about if all we do is loose faith. its only wen we bileev in a change, and work hard to seek and support the potential candidates that are true to their words... it is then that a change will indeed exist.

Hamad said...

I disagree. That parliament was a parliament that we elected. The problem is with us, the people, not MPs. Two years ago, I have seen the worst MPs become heroes. I chanted, not because I didn't see through them. It is because I realized that we decide what happens next. Problem is in the political gap that we have, the emptiness. We chose to let others (namely alwatan and affiliates) run the show, to lead the people, and thus lead the MPs. Do not expect the public to set an agenda and support it. Also, do not wait for MPs (that were elected by the passive public) to lead the passive public. After all, they're passive, at best!

Q80 Saracen said...

Lone Ranger'ess: You're words are reminiscent of the late Ahmed Al-Rub3ee, Allah yur7ama. "Be Optimistic, Kuwait is Beautiful". He ran on that campaign, I think, because he saw the potential that we as a people have. Particularly among the youth. If we don't believe in the possibility of change, and the chance of having a better Kuwait, than all dialogue is futile and at best, academic. I aspire to more than that, and I hope most feel the same :-)

Hamad: I hear the making of a great post in the works, ;-)

The truth is, you hit an an important point when you discussed the public setting an agenda. I'd like to take that one step further: why doesn't the public compel those who want are votes to set an agenda?? Why aren't their real plans of what MP hopefuls plan to do with their newly found power once they have it. I, or you or the average Joe may not have an agenda set...but we aren't running for office, so I hope that when those MPs come in to our Diwaween with the hopes of getting out votes, they can show us vision, clarity in thinking, and most importantly, a wave of change to take us out of this cycle we're in.

Hamad said...

This is in part due to our political/voting system and the effect it had on the previous parliaments. It is pointless to discuss this again since we already have a better system in place. However, a tradition that is 2 decades old, or even more, can not be replaced in one year. What I'm trying to say is that, instead of asking why, we should work to make change happen faster. Refer to www.aljasem.org, this is the result of the 5 districts. Regardless of how good/bad these candidates are. The fact that they're running with nothing but an agenda shows you that change is happening. We just need to facilitate it.

What I'm calling for is an initiative for change.

Lone Ranger'ess said...

some ppl just dont know how to set this political agebnda that u guys are calling for. they do aspire for one, but don't know what tracks to follow.

yes i agree that the running candidates shud indeed, as part of their campaign, encourgae this action.. some are actually doing this, as their main aim: addressing the public's needs for a better nation. just not every1 is...

Q80 Saracen said...

Hamad: I do believe that things are changing and that the Parliament and Government took positive steps in order to actualize this change. Lets not forget the role of the youth movement as well, in pressuring government into confronting changing times as opposed to allowing it to be more of the same. That's why I am a believer in some new blood in the Parliament because unfortunately, (which brings us back to the post), the previous two can only be described as a comprehensive failure with success being the rare exception. I'm optimistic still, the initiative is coming.

Lone Ranger'ess: At this stage, after more than 40 years of relative democracy (only relative because half the population didn't obtain the right to vote until recently and the short time that the Parliament was not active), if you don't know how to set an agenda, get the heck out of the political arena. There are vibrant individuals who are politically savvy and have surrounded themselves with capable campaign managers which are already starting with agenda setting. Kuwaitis deserve to know what their candidate is about and not just rhetoric that is copy/pasted from one another. Refer to 7zaya's post: Raise the Bar...that's really the best way to put it.

Lone Ranger'ess said...

i agree, it is of great significance that the candidtae himself/herself knows how to set their political agendas.. but i was in fact referring to the voters themselves.. some of the voters don't know how to set their poilitical agendas as to which candidate to choose; therefore, some might bypass the competent ones, and some will just 'stick to the old fella'