Among the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Kuwait and Bahrain have distinguished themselves through their vibrant political life, framed by similar participative institutions. With different participative institutions, Kuwait and Bahrain face similar governance challenges as they both try to reform a socio-economic model inherited from the 1970s oil boom that favours rent-seeking behaviours from large segments of society and is no more sustainable in the long term. In what respect do these different architectures of political pluralism really affect the two states' capacity to implement reforms that deeply hurt powerful interest groups? The Bahraini labour market reform is based on the recommendation by the international consulting firm McKinsey, which was mandated by the government as early as 2002 to diagnose the unemployment problem. In order to fully implement painful reforms, both Bahrain and Kuwait will have to build coalitions that will include parliament members, but also key brokers in the merchant and entrepreneur class.