With every parliamentary elections in Kuwait, the majority of citizens discuss policies, candidates’ characters and preferences most often, and seniors are no exception.
The role of seniors in every election is vital; their collective participation holds power, and retired people are especially vulnerable to any changes in policy made by elected officials, as social security is probably the most important concern that matters to this segment of Kuwaitis.
In an overall historical comparison between elections some half a century ago and nowadays, Hussein Al-Doukhi, 78, said that despite the lengthy timeline, some aspects of the electoral process remained the same, and if it has changed, it did slightly.
Al-Doukhi, a retired employee of the ministry of information, told KUNA at his Diwaniyah in Shamiya area that due to the small population in Kuwait’s 1963 and 1967, the people’s "demands" of candidates were few and simple, "as simple as the time back then."
He noted that even hospitality services provided to potential voters were coffee and tea, and maybe an occasional dinner held at the candidate’s headquarters or Diwaniyah.
"Sure there were interests and fierce competition among candidates to win a seat in parliament, yet, and again probably due to limited media means such as TV ads and social media, these conflicts and charged rhetoric were not felt as compared to current days."
On whether he would be physically able to vote next Saturday, November 26, Al-Doukhi gazed ineffably in the ceiling for a moment and replied, "hopefully I would; it is a national duty" and my right after all as a Kuwaiti.
"Most, if not all candidates in my constituency already offered and promised to secure transportation (private car with a driver and a wheelchair) for me to the ‘school’ polling center and back.
He smiled while reminiscing and said "see, they didn’t have these kind of services in the past for example. Not that I recall anyway. "I voted in 2013, 2012, 2009, 2008 and 2006, and ‘inshallah’ this year."
According to 2011 official statistics, 65-year-old and over of Kuwaitis represent two percent of the total population (25,443 males and 25,979 females).
Mifleh Al-Shimmari, another senior citizen, said candidates in the past totally relied on "direct" interaction with constituents, as opposed to nowadays, where social media outlets are the key means to reach out to voters to the point that "You donØ¢’t even know the names of MPs."
He added that the current elections are being held amid "difficult" security and economic circumstances in the region, hoping that the next parliament would rise up to the occasion and be responsible enough to deal with these challenges.
Fatmah Hassan, 85, told KUNA that despite the fact that she never went to vote, she urges "younger" senior citizens to head to the polling stations next Saturday, especially women.
"I donØ¢’t know, nor I am interested in politics, but I do realize that I have a right as a Kuwaiti to vote, and even run for parliament. I have an elementary degree and I can read and write in Arabic, and some English too," she exclaimed with joy.
Women were granted the right to vote and run for parliament in May 2005. The bill, which passed in parliament with 40 votes for and 10 against, allowed women to vote and run in parliamentary and local elections.
Four years later, in May 2009, four female candidates won parliamentary seats.