(Reuters) - Kuwait's diverse opposition is largely boycotting a December 1 parliamentary election in protest over changes to voting rules and may need to resort to more public protests to demand reforms.
Kuwait does not allow political parties, so people form loose alliances based on policy, family and religious ties. Below are details of some of the main figures and groups.
Around 34 members of the 50-seat parliament formed the group, also known as the "majority bloc", after the last elections in February. That gave them a greater share of seats in the National Assembly than pro-government or neutral MPs. But that parliament was dissolved in June after a court ruling.
Bloc members, who include Islamists, populist MPs and liberals, are not standing on December 1, saying recent changes to voting rules would put them at a disadvantage.
The opposition politicians divide into several smaller sub groups. Most of them are part of the opposition bloc but members and group structures change frequently.
Islamic Constitutional Movement (Hadas) - founded in the early 1990s and affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood. It backed a campaign to make Islamic law, or sharia, the source of legislation and has campaigned against corruption. The group had around five representatives in the 2012 parliament.
There are several Salafi groups which draw influence from Saudi Arabia's austere version of Islam. The main one, the Islamic Salafi Alliance, opposes votes for women, who were granted suffrage in 2005. It has a smaller influence in political life than the more moderate Islamists.
- Liberals and populists
Popular Action Bloc - a group headed by former parliament speaker Ahmed al-Saadoun, who backs the election boycott but has warned against protest marches. The group has campaigned on economic issues and some members have drawn tribal support.
Kuwait Democratic Forum and the National Democratic Alliance - liberal groups pushing political and economic reform. Together they had six MPs in the 2012 parliament. They did not always agree on the policies of the opposition bloc.
Several prominent former lawmakers allied to the opposition bloc are thought to play a significant role in shaping its tactics. As there are no political parties, individual figures play an important role.
- Musallam al-Barrak, a former populist MP who describes himself as an independent, has been able to draw on tribal support. He is under investigation for comments he made about Kuwait's ruler in October which were deemed insulting by authorities. Some of his slogans have been adopted by protesters in recent rallies.
- Ahmed al-Saadoun, who was speaker of the parliament elected in February 2012, can also rally tribal support. His son was one of several arrested after taking part in a protest in October.
- Mohammad al-Dallal, was one of several former Islamist MPs who pushed for legislation to regulate Twitter after a case involving a man convicted of insulting the Prophet Mohammad on the site. He has also called for anti-corruption rules.
- Jamaan al-Herbesh, an academic and former Islamist MP who has been outspoken in his criticism of the ruling authorities.
- Faisal al-Muslem, an academic and former Islamist MP, has also been a vocal government critic and was interrogated about comments deemed to undermine the emir.
- Waleed al-Tabtabie, a Salafi former MP, who is one of Kuwait's most prominent users of Twitter with more than a quarter of a million followers on the site.
Analysts say youth groups have started to play a leading role in street protests, organizing them using social media, planning routes and police-dodging tactics.
The membership and names change regularly and people are sometimes members of more than one group. Some are closer to the opposition bloc while others are thought to be more sympathetic towards Kuwait's status quo.
Larger groups can splinter into sub groups or combine to form temporary "movements" focused on a single issue.
One of the main groups is the National Front for the Protection of the Constitution, which bases its policy on readings of the state document and possible reforms.
The Progressive Current, a pro-democracy group, looks at political rights. A group called "Nahj" calls for a full democracy in Kuwait. "Kuwait Boycott" has helped to spearhead protests against changes to voting
(Compiled by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Andrew Heavens)
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