By Mehmood-Ul-Hassan khan
Right now most of the Arab world is struggling for survival. Change is projected through the notions of so-called Arab Spring. Different models of change are at work in the Arab world which has already produced larger than life experiences. The change revolves around bloodily revolutions, massive protests, massive violence and the last but not the least, peaceful way-forwards. Obviously, change has its spillovers repercussions.
Despite major turnaround, Egypt is still at transitory stage. Syria is bleeding and burning. Jordan is under transformation and at half way. Sudan is divided. Yemen is burning and struggling for political stability and national harmony. Libyan has apparently surpassed the unthinkable but still at its fancy. Tunisia held elections and people elected their new democratic representatives. Morocco has also started its journey towards more democratic spirits and principles. Bahrain and Oman experienced new elections and prospects of normalization and greater national consensus are now bright.
It seems that Arab world the land of unlimited prophecies and pharaohs is again in search of new Moses to achieve political harmony and peace. Democratization process has already been started in many Arab countries and in this regard the United Arab Emirates played a leading role.
Regional political scientists called it miracle while international strategists are still skeptical about the ultimate outcome. People termed it silent revolution and junta supported it as timely rescue. Power brokers projected it as anti-status quo and provoking to regional stability.
For most of the people, change in Arab world is real, drastic and significant. It carries hope for better future. It guarantees greater political participation of the common people in the development process. It upholds a progressive development model which consists of stability and sustainability with gradual change through democratization drive. It protects greater civil liberty, human rights and social justice for the marginalized communities and the UAE has already secured political mileage through evolutionary approach by successfully conducting 2nd Federal National Council Parliamentary Elections in the country. Consequently, the rest of the region followed this prime example. It was not held because of fear or frustration but to comply with the strategic vision of its leadership which always cares about the aspirations of its people. 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.
UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan termed the Federal National Council (FNC) elections a perfect opportunity to make a major step towards empowerment and further democratization. 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.
The 2nd Federal National Council (Parliament) Elections was held on September throughout the UAE. Some 468 candidates along with 86 women contested for half of the 40 seats in the seven Emirates. Arab world where people are struggling for achieving democracy, the UAE plans for further democratization is a bold and right step.
The 2nd FNC elections were the turning point in the political history of the UAE which widened popular participation in the process of government. Electoral College increased from 7,000 to 129,000. The UAE society is a politically sensible, socially dynamic and economically vibrant which can easily be judged even from its high interests in the Electoral College. Notwithstanding, turn- out was below expectation, but it was right step towards right direction.
There was no discrimination against any candidate in the elections 2011. 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. The voters were free to cast their votes.
Democracy stands for quality of life and greater good for the community. Most of the countries took centuries to reach a universal suffrage, political empowerment and the building of progressive institutions. Whereas, the UAE since, its inception 1971 has been sincerely trying to have golden principles of democracy. By any international standard or definition, the United Arab Emirates is the icon of democratic norms and traditions and recently held FNC elections further strengthened the democratic process in the country.
Governance system must be free from any political dogma, societal stigma, and economic barrier. Democracy is not a fairy tale or queen of happiness, keeping by which one succeeds to achieve socio-economic prosperity. Take the example of China, Brazil, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar where so called highly projected Western Styled democracies are not at work but still these countries have achieved high levels of socio-economic prosperity and sense of security. The so-called democratic countries of the West were responsible for the ongoing global economic recession and financial crunch and the countries mentioned above are the sign and hope of survival for the whole world.
The political philosophy and history of the modern democratic systems reveal a conflicting reality and favours gradual and rationale changes in the governance systems. Shock-therapy, most of the time bring disastrous consequences and encourages upheavals in the countries. Eastern Europe is the classic example of it. Whereas, gradualism and rationalism always brings desired goals of socio-economic prosperity and security. UAE, Qatar, Uzbekistan, and China are the prime examples in this regard. Usually first comes the macro-economic stability and societal cohesion than surfaces political system.
Respect for local talent, indigenous wisdom, traditions, customs and special circumstances ought to be pivotal for onward march towards democratization. No system is perfect. Every system has its pitfalls. Main purpose of any governance system is to deliver and free from any gender, racial and ethnic discrimination and the United Arab Emirates upholds the true spirits of humanity, survival, production, cooperation, social justice and above all welfare spirits. It has already set high standards of stability, tolerance, modernity and cultural identity in the region. So, UAE is on right path and going towards a greater public participation after holding elections 2011 in all its seven emirates.
The Federal Nation Elections (FNC) 2011 strengthened the process of gradual process of democratization. It gave the chance to government to prepare ground for further political initiatives and the people to be the part of ongoing socio-economic prosperity and decision making.
Democracy demands greater responsibilities and duties. It evolves around the sustainable development, rule of the law, and social justice. It protects the genuine spirits of civility, rights of the minorities and upholds freedom of speech. It guarantees qualitative life, better education, health and good law and order situation. By al means and international standards, UAE is the country where all above mentioned golden principles of democracy are being followed in letters and spirits and hopefully, the recently held FNC Elections 2011 would further boost the empowerment and democratization drive in the United Arab Emirates in the days to come.