KUWAIT CITY Kuwaitis vote today for a new parliament that must work with the royal family-controlled Cabinet, whose recent resignation triggered a period of political stagnation in this oil-rich U.S. ally.
The country's ruler, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, disbanded the 50-seat parliament in March after the Cabinet resigned en masse, with members saying they couldn't work with lawmakers who "interfered" with their work and were constantly trying to impeach them.
Mohammed al-Moqatei, a law professor and columnist for the Al-Qabas daily, urged Kuwaitis on Friday to vote in a way that would "take the country out of the bottleneck" of continued political crises.
"Let's vote for wisdom, reason, and programs. Let's end the deterioration of our country," al-Moqatei wrote.
Parliament has typically challenged the authority of the royal Al Sabah family by grilling Cabinet members and holding votes of no confidence against them. The royal family has tried to thwart them through Cabinet reshuffles and parliament dissolutions.
The last parliament election in 2006 also occurred after Sheik Sabah dissolved the parliament.
Some lawmakers are pushing the royal family to reform the system to allow parliament to choose the Cabinet, as is the case in many parliamentary systems. But the royal family has resisted the change.
A total of 275 candidates are running for the 50 seats in parliament. One of the key political issues has been what to do with the soaring revenue the government is enjoying from record oil prices.
The candidate pool includes 27 women, who first gained the right to vote and run for public office in 2005, but failed to win any parliament seats in the last election.