restricted access Democratic Paradoxes: Women's Rights and Democratization in Kuwait

The 1999 decree by Kuwait's emir granting women electoral rights, and its subsequent parliamentary rejection, is more than just an instance of women's oppression in action. It also demonstrates a potential paradox between two axes of democratization: liberalization, the existence of a sphere of meaningful public contestation, and participation, that the right to participate in that sphere is extended to all. In Kuwait, 1999 represents an instance where those two axes were in direct competition. This article explores the 1999 enfranchisement as a way of understanding this democratic paradox and then follows these issues through the successful 2005 enfranchisement and the election of female Assembly members in 2007 and in the 2012, post-Arab Spring elections.