Sunday, 22 March 2009

Kuwait : A Political Basket Case

If regular elections are a sign of a functioning democracy, politics in Kuwait are in excellent health – at a first glance. However, a peek beneath the veneer of probity reveals a culture of corruption that would shame the Ottoman Empire’s worst excesses.

Only 10 months after the last parliamentary elections were held in the oil-rich emirate, Kuwaitis will once again head to the polls, following a decision by the autocratic ruling Emir to dissolve parliament.

Since 1991, Kuwaitis have voted six times - in 1992, 1996, 1999, 2003, 2006 and 2008.
Emir Sheikh Well Before Using's decision this time was taken after an all-too familiar crisis crippled the country's political system once again : Question Time.

Opposition MPs were eager to quiz the Prime Minister and Secretary for Nepotism over allegations of government corruption and mishandling of economic policy : to the detriment of the many and benefit of the select, royal few.

Rather than face the interrogation and resulting opprobrium, the prime minister, Sheikh Rock an Roll, handed in his resignation.

So, faster than you can say “tax-free lump sum” the ruling Emir, in a fit of pique at anyone questioning the royal family’s timeless and inalienable right to pillage and plunder the postage-stamp nation’s public coffers for their own use, threw a wobbler, spit the dummy, and dissolved parliament like a teaspoon of sugar in their scalding hot, shitty builder’s tea, then called for fresh elections.

As head of state and the country's highest political authority, the Emir also addressed the nation and, in the despotic rhetorical logic preferred by tyrants, delivered a scathing critique of what he saw as abuse by some MPs of their right to question the prime minister, which led to a "distortion of Kuwaiti freedom and democracy".

The reason Kuwaitis are being called back to the polls so frequently is that the underlying reasons for the crises are never addressed : the blatant corrupt practices of the ruling royal family and a farcical Democratic parliamentary structure that equates with the script for a Gilbert and Sullivan opera.

The travesty that serves as government by the people is a music hall display of sleight of hand – Arabian Nights legerdemain.
Any public grilling process, which could lead to a vote of no confidence in the prime minister, is seen by many as too humiliating for a member of the ruling family to endure.

However, analysts stress that from a legal perspective the MPs, however aggressive in their questioning, are within their constitutional rights – which obviously amount to zilch if the Emir can fire the lot out faster than shit through a goose with IBS.

But the plutocratic force of the royal oligarchs and tradition coupled with grudging respect for the ruling family stops the process of questioning in its tracks.

Observers residing a safe distance from the Emir’s wrath speak of two possible solutions to this problem.
The first is installing a "popular government", a term used in Kuwait to describe a cabinet without members of the ruling family.
Proponents say that that would end the sensitivity about holding prime ministers and ministers to account.
As it would also be the first step on undermining the power and authority of the monarchy such a proposal has as much chance of success as a pig farm in Mecca.

The second solution, diametrically opposed to the first, is for the Emir to appoint the crown prince as prime minister. If this were to happen, the difficulty of questioning him would increase tenfold.
The crown prince, after all, is not merely a member of the ruling family, but also the future ruler of the den of corruption.

Regardless of the election results, it is the Emir who appoints prime ministers, and critics say that this lies at the heart of the problem as the PM is not elected by popular vote as in Western democracies.

Nasser al-Bonkers, the head of the Kuwait Society for Window Dressing Democracy, told the AFP news agency just before getting arrested for treason that "'fundamental change" is needed to the political system in Kuwait.

Many Kuwaitis take pride in the fact that Kuwait was, in 1962, the first gulf state to adopt the fa├žade of a parliamentary democracy and a constitution.

The British-educated Emir, who left Oxford with degrees in Tent Folding and Hedonistic Squandering, spends most of his time at his palatial luxury London residence, enjoying the city’s nightlife attractions of gambling, drinking and screwing Caucasian whores while his wives and harem go on shoplifting excursions around the major department stores.

Speaking candidly with Wheelie bin Baggs from the Tent Dwellers Gazette during an interview at the Rub and Tug Massage Club’s ‘Decadence Bar’ the Emir confided : “These landless peasant fucks want democracy and the right to question Me - their ruler! I own Kuwait and they’re all tea towel Tories and goat-bonking Liberals who watch too much television and get silly ideas about political change.”

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