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5 million people follow Kuwait’s MPs on Twitter

Manama: Kuwait’s 50 lawmakers are being followed by close to 5 million people on Twitter.

The lawmakers had 3.75 million followers before their elections to the parliament in November 2016, but now they are now being followed by 4.9 million people, a report in Kuwaiti daily Al Qabas said on Wednesday.

Speaker Marzouq Al Ganem has gained 121,000 new followers, the second highest figure. MP Safa Al Hashem tops the list with 293,000 new followers.

Thanks to his 109,000 followers, conservative MP Waleed Al Tabtabai is now being followed by 936,000 people, more than the combined number of followers of the 20 lawmakers in the first and fifth districts with 650,000.

Twitter accounts were used extensively on controversial issues by lawmakers who, under populist pressure, had to express their views and explain their stances on the microblog.

The grilling of ministers was a major topic that lawmakers had to approach on Twitter, the daily said.

However, some lawmakers complained the social pressure exerted through Twitter was being built by “non-impartial parties that were attempting to shape public opinion and influence MPs”.

Government officials have also complained about the use of Twitter to put pressure on lawmakers, Al Qabas added.

While some lawmakers used Twitter accounts to communicate with followers, answer their queries and update them on the latest developments, others used it to engage in public arguments with fellow MPs or with the government.

Some lawmakers preferred to use their accounts for social events, the exchange of greetings on religious and national occasions, and to post pictures.

Speaker Al Ganem scored high on the scale of reactions when he posted his demand to the Israeli parliament representatives to leave the Inter-Parliamentary Union meeting in St Petersburg on October 19 last year.

The “weirdest” tweet was attributed to Al Tabtabai when, in February, he posted that rain fell again in Kuwait only after inmates, including himself, were allowed to leave prison where they had been held for storming the Kuwaiti parliament in November 2011. The lawmaker deleted the tweet after he was ridiculed for linking rain with an event in the country.

The inmates who included former and sitting MPs were momentarily released by the Court of Cassation pending final trial session in May.

Two of the imprisoned MPs continued to post tweets on their accounts, saying their media committees were given the task of communicating with their followers.

One lawmaker, Abdul Kareem Al Kindari, well-known for his support of the German team Bayern Munich, has used Twitter to comment on football matches.

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