INTRODUCTION: Kuwaitis went to the polls on Monday (23 February) in an election to restore parliamentary democracy in the Gulf state after a break of four years.
GV EXTERIOR Kuwait street scene
GV Car covered with election posters PAN TO marquee
SV PAN Sign and marquee
SV PAN Candidate making speech to audience in tent (2 shots)
SV EXTERIOR Tent as meeting continues
SV PAN People arriving for election meeting (3 shots)
GV EXTERIOR Voters arriving at polling station (4 shots)
SV INTERIOR People casting votes (2 shots)
SCU Official checking name and placing ballot paper in box
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Background: INTRODUCTION: Kuwaitis went to the polls on Monday (23 February) in an election to restore parliamentary democracy in the Gulf state after a break of four years. Kuwait's Interior Minister, Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmed al-Sabah, said there had been a high turnout of voters. The last Parliament was suspended in 1976 because of political in-fighting.
SYNOPSIS: No other Gulf state has an elected Parliament, and candidates in Kuwait said they believed the election could have a decisive influence on political freedom in other states. A quarter of the non-communist world's oil comes from the Gulf states.
In the days leading up to the election, rallies were held throughout the country. But no women were able to take part, since they're not allowed to vote. Political parties are also banned in Kuwait, but the 50-seat National Assembly is a major political force, with wider powers than almost any other in the Arab world.
Political sources and diplomats in Kuwait, quoted by Reuters news agency, said it was impossible to predict the outcome of the election because of the huge number of candidates, many of them unknowns, and changes in the voting regulations.
Although there was a big turnout on polling day, Kuwait has fewer than 42,000 electors. Nearly 450 candidates were appealing for their votes, ranging from left-wing radicals, capitalists and Islamic fundamentalists.
Only two groups had clear ideological platforms -- the radical Arab Nationalists and the Islamic Conservatives, each with six candidates. The radicals formed the most vocal opposition to the government in the past, but the Islamic Conservatives were expected to benefit from a new wave of religious feeling in the Moslem world. Political disruption paralysed the last Kuwaiti Assembly, which had the power to veto any new law.
Political leaders in Kuwait said they believed the new assembly could help to stabilise the region, which has been shaken by the Islamic revolution in Iran, the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan, and the war between Iran and Iraq.