Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Kuwaiti Politics: Taking The Gloves Off

During election season, one of the most effective methods of campaigning in Kuwait is visiting the Diwaniya. This can be a deciding factor in whether or not the candidate wins or loses and to this date, I have yet to see someone who refused to go to diwaniyas win the election. Moreover, why should he or she win? I mean, if a political district consists of 50-100 thousand voters, depending on each district, surely a candidate can make the time to head to some key figures in each residential area. The former head of the Parliament, Jasem Al-Khorafi (who also happens to be one of the world’s wealthiest men) has been known to visit “Koat Diwaniyas” where the oldest person present was 24 years old. Entering a diwaniya and seeking support of your fellow citizen is viewed as the ultimate sign of humility and if there’s one pre-requisite to succeeding in Kuwait….its being humble.

Interestingly enough, Diwaniyas used to be so appreciative of the candidate (or in many cases, former MPs) that they would indulge in small talk while the sweet and Arabic coffee was served. Sure they would ask about how he sees the future, or perhaps a general question about the relationship between the Executive and the Legislative branches but always in a way that triggers a pre-scripted response. A healthy scoop of rhetoric, topped off with some personal achievements (relevant or irrelevant) and mixed together with praising the host family. It’s a song and dance we’re all too familiar with and its politics.

The other day, during our family Diwaniya, one of the candidates came in at a relatively late hour. With all due respect to this candidate (this respect will be shown by me not writing his name, and that’s as far as I’m willing to go), he has very little to offer Kuwait and would most likely not represent a 10th vote, let alone one of the sacred four. He’s a career candidate (never making it to the Parliamentary seat but still choo-choo-ing forward) who actually had some very interesting analysis with regards to this election.

He began discussing the transformation of Kuwaiti politics, through the Diwaniya as a primary medium. “Before,” he said, “the predominant language of the Diwaniya was that of gracious welcome and formalities”. “Today, though” he continued “people know about the issues and they want details. It’s not enough to simply speak and say farewell.” Now, knowing this candidate and his ability to recite pre-scripted 6-liners, spiced with some sophisticated terms (with a gleeful glow to follow suit), its only appropriate that he would notice such change.

I began by describing this change in the tone of the diwaniyas, as they host fellow citizens with Parliamentary aspirations as a transformation. However, if we’re to be fair, it can and should only be described as evolution. When formality is replaced with inquisitiveness. When instead of being urged to try the sweet, they are urged to defend their views under sophisticated scrutiny. When instead of saying reassuring words to those who we placed our trust in and now find themselves jobless, the words they say are harsh but genuine. When “how is the family” is replaced with “what did you do to stop the others from turning the Parliament into a circus?”… that’s when you know Kuwaiti politics is evolving. Kuwaitis worked hard to build this beautiful country and we have a right to make sure that the people we elect will work just as hard as our forefathers. Its time to take the gloves off, because Kuwait deserves better.


eshda3wa said...

i cant wait for it to be over

Q80 Saracen said...

Eshda3wa: I don't blame you. But today, Election Day, as I watch the coverage on all the different media channels, I can't help but feel proud. People outside of Kuwait, specifically in the Arab world, are watching us carefully either in admiration or envy. (Envy itha kaanow min dowal il thud)

Go vote. There's not other way I can say it. Don't let anyone else choose for you. If you vote, and your four don't win, then at least as a citizen you would have earned the right to complain (which for a blogger is an essential right to have).

A few more hours...and itha Allah kitab, we might have a Parliament that lasts 4 years...we just might...ow Allah yaktib illy fee il 5air ;-)

Ahmed's 819 said...

i myself, have no faith in any, again, any candidate, its been years and years AND years since they promised and Failed to deliver, some do MINOR changes, but were at a critical stage where we need a whole new phase of what we like to call: Evolution

if an individual wants to see some dramatic changes, one must not settle for what They offer, i think we all should do more than just vote and promote for this and that, hopefully we'll see something *new* for instance,
because frankly, im tired of all those financial scandals, social problem, and the lack of respect between the Religion Creeds and Democratic parties and i mean really tired, when will it ever stop.


Q80 Saracen said...

Ahmed: I hear you Ahmed,I really do. As a people, we've been trying to grab on to even the smallest victory so that we can feel an ounce of what our forefathers felt during the Kuwait's "enlightment" period...

But today, what was achieved was no small victory. I'm not so niave as to say that a woman will have a magic wand which will make everything you said (and much more) go away. However, what the woman getting to office represents is the people's will for change. A break in the boundaries of stagnation. Whether or not they and their male colleauges will build on that we have yet to see.

As for myself, I like to stay optimistic. If a person envisions the country he/she wants to create...only then can genuine steps be made to create it. Ow Allah yaktib illy fee il 5air.

[F] a g i l e said...

I agree with Saracen, optimism is the one thing that draws a line between those who will "trigger" change and those who will never make a difference.

-Panic Button, this post was beautifully written.

Oo i loved the fact that there is a dewaneya called " Kout Dewaneya".

Q80 Saracen said...

[F]Agile: First of all, welcome to The Panic Button. I haven't posted in a while, but I'm thankful for your comment. I think the way you defined optimism and the role it plays in making a difference is very insightful.

I'm motivated to write a post regarding the latest tragedy in Jahra...and perhaps the political ramifications...we'll see though...