For Kuwait’s upcoming parliamentary election, the government is instituting, for the first time ever, a campaign against buying or selling one’s vote.
During a recent broadcast on Dubai TV (which I saw via Link TV Mosaic), this poster was shown. I do not read Arabic, but I gather that these voters are happy because they have neither bought nor sold their vote.
Kuwait had parliamentary elections just a year ago, using a form of multiple non-transferable vote (MNTV). Apparently voters were “limited” to voting for fewer than M candidates, where M is the magnitude of the electoral system. That was a change from the previous “unlimited” vote, in which each voter could cast up to M votes, and the candidates with the top M vote totals in the district would win. M-votes MNTV is often misleadingly called “block vote.” However, in the 2003 election when this system was still in use, there was not a lot of “blockness” of voting, which I suggested could be calculated from the ratios of winners’ and losers’ votes.
Non-transferable vote systems–whether voting is “limited” or not–are personalistic, and thus provide the context in which vote-buying can be expected to flourish, absent effective controls of one kind or another. Limits on the number of votes per voter (with SNTV being the limit) would not exactly seem to decrease the personalism that often breeds “vote-buying,” especially in the absence of legally recognized political parties to structure the campaign.
Kuwaitis are going back to the polls so early because the emir evidently did not like the notion of a parliament that would question the prime minister. So he dissolved it.