Kuwait's Shi'ite minority has won for the first time a third of the seats in the 50-member parliament in polls boycotted by the opposition which claimed voter turnout was a meagre 26.7 per cent, according to official results released on Sunday.
The 15 seats won by Shi'ite candidates compare with seven in the scrapped 2012 parliament and nine in the 2009 house. Shi'ites form about 30 per cent of Kuwait's native population of 1.2 million.
Shi'ites defied calls by the Sunni-dominated opposition to boycott the election because of a dispute over the electoral law and voted in large numbers.
Three women were elected to the new parliament compared with four in 2009. The new house includes as many as 30 new faces, reflecting the total boycott by former MPs who are leading members of the opposition.
The boycott was called in protest against the government's unilateral amendment of the key electoral law ahead of the polls. The opposition says the action enabled the government to manipulate the outcome of polls.
The opposition said the boycott to the polls was very successful as a majority of voters stayed home, and described the election as "unconstitutional".
"Based on statistics compiled by the opposition, the voter turnout was 26.7 per cent," said former MP Khaled al-Sultan at the end of an emergency meeting by the opposition after the ballots closed.
However, the information ministry website reported that turnover was 38.8 per cent and opposition youth groups reported lower percentages.
Veteran opposition leader Ahmad al-Saadoun said the "election is unconstitutional" while several other former MPs called on Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad Al-Sabah to repeal the disputed amendment.
Sunni Islamists were reduced to a small minority of four MPs in the new parliament compared with as many as 23 in the house elected in February and scrapped by a court in June.
Voting passed off without any incident despite high political tension between the Islamist, nationalist and liberal opposition and the government led by the Al-Sabah ruling family.
The vote, the second in 10 months, came nearly two months after the emir dissolved a pro-government parliament following its reinstatement in June by a court ruling.