By Mehmood-Ul-Hassan Khan
It is all set to hold Federal National Council (FNC) elections 2011 in the United Arab Emirates on September 24. The results will be announced the same day after initial screening. Appeals against any result should be filed the very next day, on September 25, and the National Elections Committee (NEC) will decide on the appeals on September 28.
The FNC election campaigns have been started in all the seven emirates of the UAE by the 468 candidates including 25 women. They will all contest to win 20 seats i.e. half of the total 40 seats in the 2nd FNC elections. The remaining 20 members will be appointed by respective Rulers of the seven Emirates.
Emiratisation, health care, education, qualitative life, greater role of private sector, women’s rights and preservation of national identity are among the popular policy manifestoes outlined by participating candidates with the hope to win the elections 2011.
By all means, it is a giant step towards further democratization in the UAE. Citizens of the UAE are free to elect their future representatives. They are free to caste their valuable votes which shows further institutionalization of democratic traditions in the UAE society. No doubt, UAE has its own model for democracy which perfectly suits its macro-economic development which has already produced massive turnaround in its socio-economic prosperity, political articulation and above all rule of the law. The region which has been burning, bleeding, and bursting for the last so many months, nevertheless, the UAE presents the way of bring real change through gradual democratization by holding 2nd FNC elections 2011 which would further strengthen relations between the rulers and to be ruled.
According to the UAE National Election Committee (NEC) the final tally of candidates in each emirate is: Abu Dhabi 117; Dubai 124; Sharjah 93; Ras Al Khaimah 60; Ajman 34; Umm Al Quwain 19 and Fujairah 21. It also tells us about the women candidature in the 2nd FNC elections 2011 from each emirate i.e. Abu Dhabi 22, Dubai 26, Sharjah 16, Ras Al Khaimah 9, Ajman 5, Umm Al Quwain 4 and Fujairah 3.
By any international standard, participating candidates are free to use any type of local mass media including informative lectures, conferences and the last not the least social media (Facebook and Twitter), the BlackBerry messenger as well as the more traditional face-to-face approach to communicate for winning the hearts and minds of the UAE citizens. Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Minister of State for FNC Affairs and Chairman of the National Election Committee (NEC), said, “Modern technology has changed the pattern of dealing with many issues, including the FNC elections, which mainly focuses on information and is used as a communication tool.”
There will be no discrimination against any candidate in the elections 2011. They will contest in an evenly manufactured play ground to win elections 2011. All candidates can receive financial support from UAE citizens and local entities throughout their campaigns, but no Foreign aid. All funds should not exceed Dh2 million which is a genuine bar on money-cracy in the country.
Moreover, all candidates are required to strictly follow the rules and are restricted from negative propaganda and excessive use of money. To mitigate any cynicism each candidate is required to formulate a program of his/her election campaign and get the approval for the same from the NEC.
The FNC has been proactive since its inception. In order to raise public awareness about the FNC elections importance and utility the FNC has already issued voter and candidate guideline along with empowerment program. It covers all aspects of politics, administration, law, morality, manifestation and civility. It is greatly helpful to those who enter the election arena for the first time.
It has also rigorously highlighted the UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s political participation campaign. It strongly urges the UAE people to actively participate in the upcoming elections 2011 and be part of this momentous event in the history of the UAE. It is hoped that through the selection of right people in the FNC elections, the decision making process would be more friendly, productive and prompt in the days to come.
The UAE society is politically sensible, socially dynamic and economically vibrant which can easily be judged even from it high interests in the Electoral College. According to NFC (2011) Electoral College has reached to 129,274 members. Each emirate has its own electoral college i.e. Abu Dhabi 47,444, Dubai 37,514, Ras Al Khaimah16,850, Sharjah 13,937, Fujairah 6,324 Ajman and Umm Al Quwain 3,920.
The composition of the FNC shows that it has 40 members, out of which eight each represent Abu Dhabi and Dubai, six each from Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah, and four each from Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah. The Electoral College of each emirate will elect half the members of the FNC from the respective emirate.
Democracy has different types and shades around the globe. But the one thing uniquely common is delivery, upholding of social justice, role of the law and above all respect for the humanity. Democracy stands for quality of life and greater good for the community. It supports tolerance and discourages discrimination. It facilitates socio-economic prosperity and freedom of speech. By any international standard or definition, the United Arab Emirates is the icon of democratic norms and traditions.
The Federal National Council (FNC) 2ND elections 2011 would be milestone in the history of the UAE. It would open new opportunity for the people of UAE to endorse their priorities by casting their votes in the elections 2011. It would also accelerate the democratization process in the UAE.