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UAE President terms FNC elections a major step towards empowerment, further democratization

Mehmood-Ul-Hassan Khan

UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan has tremed the Federal National Council (FNC) elections in his country a perfect opportunity to make a major step towards empowerment and further democratization. Addressing the nation ahead of the elections, which were held on Saturday, the President of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) called upon members of electoral colleges for broad and active participation in the elections so that the real participation can be achieved.

According to a message received here from Abu Dhabi on Saturday, he praised the positive role of FNC established in 1972. He also highlighted FNC’s achievements which provided a strong platform for political participation and positive impact on the decision-making process in the country.

The 2nd FNC elections were held in the Emirates (UAE) on Saturday and their results were also announced after initial screening.

The general atmosphere was electrifying. The voters’ turnout was excellent. The people actively participated in the elections and cast their votes according to their own free will/choice.

The number of voters has tremendously increased from 7,000 to 130,000.The UAE society is politically sensible, socially dynamic and economically vibrant which can easily be judged even from its 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. Some 468 candidates along with 86 women contested for half of the 40 seats in the seven Emirates.

According to the NEC the final tally of candidates in each Emirate was: Abu Dhabi 117; Dubai 124; Sharjah 93; Ras Al Khaimah 60; Ajman 34; Umm Al Quwain 19 and Fujairah 21. There were four polling booths/ stations arranged in Abu Dhabi, two in Dubai, three in Sharjah and one polling station each in Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah, Ajman and Umm Al Qaiwain.

The UAE has a dynamic society which is politically motivated and empowered and the election 2011 was a historic event to wisely pursue the long-term, sustainable economic and social growth.

Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum strongly stressed the need to back the “democracy test” by actively franchising in the elections 2011.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum called on voters to cast their valuable votes in a civilized and democratic manner by keeping national interests sky-high instead of personal courtesy and affiliation.

He highlighted the importance of massive participation because active and broad participation promotes the concept of national and community participation and partnership, especially that one between the leadership and people.

Sheikh Fatima bint Mubarak, Chairperson of General Woman Union, and of Family Development Foundation, emphasized on Emirati woman to exercise her electoral right in the elections which represented by 46 per cent of total of the Electoral College nationwide.

Some 86 women contested the elections. Majority of the candidates were between 30-35 years category that strived to brighten the future of the younger generation of the country for a better UAE society.”

Better education, sustainable development, knowledge based economy, employment generation, women empowerment, Emiratisation, housing and qualitative life were the main manifestos of the candidates in the elections.

Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Minister of State for FNC Affairs and Chairman of the NEC said, “the expansion of the electoral college in 2011 confirms the leadership’s commitment to move forward and enhance participation of citizens in policy-making in the UAE”.

The caravans of greater political participation by the people in decision making, real empowerment drive and freedom ethos envisioned in 2006 by conducting the first FNC elections.

In first elections only 7,000 Emiratis were allowed to vote; in 2011, approximately 130,000 Emiratis enfranchised with voting rights. There were 7,757 Emiratis, 6,595 men and 1,162 women turned out to vote in 2006.

The FNC elections 2011 offered a chance for all nationals of different age and gender to engage with the diverse processes of democracy and play important role in the decision making process.

All regional think-tanks, researchers, academicians and newspapers termed FNC elections as a giant step towards further institutionalization of democratic traditions in the UAE society. The citizens of the UAE were free to elect their future representatives.

They were free to cast their valuable votes. 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 and the elections 2011 further strengthened this process.
Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash, said, “Modern technology has changed the pattern of dealing with many issues, including the FNC elections.” By any international standard, candidates were 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.

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.

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