Kuwait’s Democratic Promise

Issue Date July 2023
Volume 34
Issue 3
Page Numbers 46–61
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Kuwait is a democratic outlier in the Middle East. In this oil-rich Muslim Arab state, the ruling Sabah monarchy claims considerable executive authority, but it also coexists with a powerful, elected parliament and well-mobilized civil society. This oft-overlooked hybrid system is rooted in liberal norms of pluralism and openness, and enables opposition blocs to advance democratic reforms and rebuff the threat of repression. A transition towards parliamentary democracy, a rarity in the Arab world, is possible. However, this will require overcoming intense cleavages within the royal family, across social groups, and between the royal autocracy and society itself.

About the Author

Sean Yom is associate professor of political science at Temple University, nonresident senior fellow at the Project on Middle East Democracy in Washington, D.C., and senior fellow in the Middle East Program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia.

View all work by Sean L. Yom