VAT backlash blow to MPs’ re-election

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A PUBLIC backlash against the previous parliament, fuelled by anger at the imminent introduction of Value Added Tax (VAT), has been credited with dashing the hopes of 13 MPs seeking re-election.

Of 23 incumbent MPs who ran for parliament again this year, only two successfully defended their seats in the first round of voting on Saturday – Adel Al Asoomi and Isa Al Kooheji.

Thirteen of them were dumped outright by voters, while eight face a second-round run-off this weekend.

The cull is an indication of widespread dissatisfaction at parliament’s performance during the past four years.

However, 27 MPs who supported the introduction of VAT in January were singled out for criticism – both ahead of the election and on election day itself.

Influential social media accounts posted the names and pictures of those who voted in favour of VAT as part of a campaign encouraging voters not to support them again.

Pictures and messages reminding people were also circulated on the day of the election on Saturday.

“The public is upset and angry,” explained political analyst Fareed Ghazi, a lawyer who served in parliament between 2002 and 2006.

“People don’t want MPs who imposed taxes on them, didn’t secure compensation or financial benefits and even tightened restrictions on political and human rights.

“Voters today are extremely intelligent and have strong opinions.

“This translated into the outcome of the first round of the election.”

Seventeen of the 27 MPs who last month voted in favour of VAT tried to defend their seat.