Kuwait has a constitutional monarchy and the government system is based on democratic principles.
The constitutional head is the Amir. Amir al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah is the current head of state. Under his government, foreign investments have been encouraged.
The country does not allow political parties. There can only be informal political groups. Some of the groups are the Islamist Salafist movement, the liberal Democratic Forum bloc, the Shi'ite-led National Islamic Coalition, the Islamist Ummah Party and Kuwait's Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Constitutional Movement and the liberal Popular Bloc. Amir has the authority to dissolve parliament.
Although it is the most developed democracy amongst the Arab states, Kuwait’s political system has had long periods of tension and disruption. Up until the 1990s there were many territorial disputes and militant violence across the nation.
(Sources: Ministry of Information, BBC, Reuters, press reference, internews.org)
Women gained the right to vote and participate in parliament in 2005. They also have the freedom to drive, travel unescorted and pursue a career, unlike other conservative Muslim countries. (Source: khaleej times)
Freedom of information
In 2010, Kuwait was ranked 88th on the Press Freedom Index. The index contains countries with scores ranging from zero, having the most freedom, to about 105. Kuwait scores 23.75 points on this index indicating moderate regulations being in place on the media.
The KUNA (Kuwait News Agency) is an independent agency, however, it does not operate freely. It also controls Radio Kuwait and Kuwait Television stations. The Ministry of Information, the regulatory authority of Kuwait’s media, gives a high level of freedom to the press compared to other Arab states.
The Press Laws of 1956 and 1961 impose fines, imprisonment and suspensions on the media for criticizing the law, government, leaders, allies of the nation and religious heads. All publications are only released after the approval of the Ministry of Information. The Arabic newspapers are Al-Rai a-Aam, Al-Watan, Al-Anba, Al-Qabas and Al-Siyassah, and the two English-language newspapers are The Arab Times and The Kuwait Times. Some of the online news services are Kuwait Daily, Al Bawaba, Arabia and Zawya.
Foreign media agencies such as All India Radio, Pakistan Radio, BBC World Service and Voice of America are permitted in the country. But there have been cases of foreign journalists being banned due to violations of press laws.
(Sources: Ministry of Communication,internews.org)
The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is a survey that measures the perceived level of corruption across countries worldwide. Kuwait is ranked 54th out of 178 countries in the 2010 index, indicating that it is perceived as moderately corrupt.
Kuwait is ranked 61st on the 2011 Economic Freedom Index with a score of 64.9. The country is ranked 8th amongst 17 countries of the Middle East/North Africa region.
Kuwait’s judiciary is one of the oldest among the Arab states. It is based on French civil law, British general law, Islamic and Egyptian law. The independence of the judiciary is guaranteed by the Constitution.
The judicial system hierarchy consists of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the Court of First Instance. The Court of First Instance comprises of courts of different judicial powers. It mainly deals with civil, commercial and personal status cases.
Judges are appointed by the Amir (head of state). The Supreme Judicial Council advises the Amir on appointments of judges. The council is made up of the under secretary of the Ministry of Justice, president and vice - president of the Appeals Court, president and vice - president of the Supreme Court, the attorney general and the president of the High court.
(Source: Ministry of Information, undp)