Kuwait goes to the Polls: Discussing the 2020 Parliamentary Elections

Hosted by the Middle East Centre

Zoom (Online)


Abdullah al-Khonaini

Abdullah al-Khonaini

Independent Researcher

Alanoud Al-Sharekh

Alanoud Al-Sharekh

Ibtkar Strategic Consultancy

Michael Herb

Michael Herb

Georgia State University

Daniel L. Tavana

Daniel L. Tavana

Yale University


Courtney Freer

Courtney Freer

LSE Middle East Centre

 Kuwait Parliament 2013

This Kuwait Programme event will be a discussion about the 2020 parliamentary elections in Kuwait.

After Kuwaitis go to the polls on 5 December amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and increasing anxieties about the country’s fiscal positions, top experts in Kuwaiti elections come together to discuss the results and what they mean for Kuwait under the new amir, Sheikh Nawaf. With the return of much of the cross-ideological opposition after a four-year boycott (2012-2016), the continued political activism of Kuwait’s tribes, and a variety of secular and Islamist blocs contesting the elections, they are an important bellwether of Kuwaiti politics and the likely direction of policymaking. Further, the appointment of a new cabinet after the election will also signal the priorities of the new executive moving forward.

Abdullah al-Khonaini completed his MA in Power, Participation, and Social Change from the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex University. He co-founded 'Raqib50', an online parliament watch that holds Kuwaiti parliamentarians accountable by making their voting records accessible to the public. His research interests include a focus on civil society, dynamics of informal civic groups and participation, postcolonial identity and belonging in the Gulf.

Alanoud Al-Sharekh is the Director of Ibtkar Strategic Consultancy, leading political, leadership and diversity training programs in Kuwait and the GCC region. She is chairperson of the Chaillot award winning Abolish 153 campaign to end honour killing legislations, and a cofounder of Mudhawis List, a platform to support women running for political office. She is currently an Associate Fellow at the Chatham House MENA Program and Research Fellow at Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. In 2019 she was named one of the 100 most inspiring and influential women in the world by the BBC.

Michael Herb is Professor and Chair of Political Science at Georgia State University. His work focuses on Gulf politics, monarchism and the resource curse. He is the author of  The Wages of Oil: Parliaments ‎and Economic Development in Kuwait and the UAE (Cornell University Press, 2014) and All in the Family: Absolutism, Revolution, and Democracy in the Middle Eastern Monarchies (SUNY ‎‎1999), in addition to numerous articles. He maintains the Kuwait Politics Database, a comprehensive source of information on Kuwaiti elections. He has twice won Fulbright awards to study in Kuwait.

Daniel L. Tavana is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Council on Middle East Studies at the Whitney and Betty MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University. His research interests include a focus on elections, identity, and comparative political behaviour, as well as the dynamics of political opposition in authoritarian regimes. Previously, Daniel was a Research Associate at the Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED) in Washington, DC. He completed his BA at the University of Pennsylvania, an MPhil in International Relations at the University of Cambridge, and an MPP at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Courtney Freer is an Assistant Professorial Research Fellow at the Middle East Centre. Her work focuses on the domestic politics of the Gulf states, particularly the roles played by Islamism and tribalism. Her book Rentier Islamism: The Influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Gulf Monarchies, based on her DPhil thesis at the University of Oxford and published by Oxford University Press in 2018, examines the socio-political role played by Muslim Brotherhood groups in Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

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Image: Kuwait National Assembly on 6 August 2013  © Kuwait-Ra'ed Qutena

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