DEMOCRACY WATCH: Kuwait grants universal suffrage
Karin Palmquist

On May 16, the Kuwaiti parliament amended the country`s election law to grant universal suffrage, giving women the right to vote after decades of struggles by women`s rights groups. The legislative changes up for discussion included the right for women to run for office in local elections, but in a surprise move, the parliament also extended the right for women to run for office in parliamentary elections.

The country`s parliament was by no means unified in the decision: 35 members voted in favor and 23 against. Observers believe Prime Minister Sheik Sabah al-Jaber al-Sabah, feeling the pressure to allow women to vote, forced the measure through ahead of an upcoming trip to Washington.

Kuwait`s women will be able to run in the parliamentary elections in 2007. The legislation passed too late to allow them to run in the council elections in June.