The difficult development of parliamentary politics in the Gulf

Parliaments have a poor record in the Middle East.  However, since 2011 demands for representation in the region have tended to focus on the creation of mass political parties and an effective, and democratic, parliament. This paper by Greg Power published by the LSE’s Kuwait Programme examines the development of the parliamentary institutions in three Gulf states: Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman. The institutions in these countries have, to some extent, been a forum for the articulation of public demands for more political and constitutional power.  But the parliaments have also been used as part of a ruling strategy to maintain Executive control – with governments manipulating membership, limiting parliamentary power and preventing sensitive political issues from being discussed. The paper examines how these dynamics have played themselves out in each of the three Gulf states, and reflects on the role that parliamentary institutions might play in the coming years in both managing those states’ political tensions and providing a catalyst for more far-reaching political reform.