The Richness of the UAE’s Parliamentary Experience

  • 8 June 2015

The Federal National Council (FNC) elections, which are scheduled to be held on 3rd October 2015, are going to be an important step towards strengthening the UAE’s parliamentary experience. These elections will also enhance the role of the Council in various spheres of development in the country. They are going to be different from previous elections both in terms of the application of the ‘one-vote principle’ and in terms of facilitating voting through embassies for Emiratis living abroad. There is no doubt that these steps show the interest being shown to strengthen popular participation in these elections and to develop parliamentary experience to keep pace with the movement of development taking place in the state at all levels.

FNC elections are part of the political empowerment program, announced by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan (may God protect him), in his speech on the National Day in December 2005. The program was aimed at strengthening citizen participation in public affairs as part of a vision to take each step at the right time without delaying or going ahead of schedule in the interest of stability, development and progress in the country. At its last meeting a few days ago, the National Election Committee finalized the schedule of elections this year and announced new mechanisms for the management of the electoral process.

The Committee intends to apply early voting system, which will open the way for members of the electoral bodies to vote for three days prior to the day of polling, i.e. from 28-30 September. This will help those who are unable to vote on the day of elections. Several other procedures are being introduced that shows the keenness of the Commission to ensure highest standards of efficiency, accuracy, and transparency in managing the electoral process. This also confirms that the leadership is keen to provide all means possible to enhance popular participation and raise political awareness among citizens. This will mark the beginning of a new phase in the country’s parliamentary experience.

Since its inception, the FNC elections have reflected the richness of parliamentary experience in the UAE and have evolved by means of a progressive vision. The elections in 2006 resulted in the victory of 20 members, representing of the FNC while the Rulers of the Emirates appointed the other half. In the year 2011, elections made a significant milestone in popular participation as a wide electoral base was introduced, which has gone up 20 times compared to previous elections. However, in the elections scheduled for October 2015, the introduction of ‘one-vote system’ will make the selection of the candidates based on programs. This will allow the selection of members on the basis of efficiency and ability to express the demands of the people and defending their rights. This is meant to strengthen FNC’s role in practicing its various regulatory and legislative functions and safeguarding national interests at all times.

The UAE’s wise leadership believes in the importance of the FNC as the voice of the people and expression of their ambitions and aspirations. It is keen to make the FNC one of the basic pillars of the UAE’s experience in participation and development in the interest of the country. There is no doubt that the upcoming elections, with all its new procedures and mechanisms, will be a qualitative addition to the UAE’s parliamentary experience, which has become a model of political development. It will strike a balance between fulfilling local needs while benefiting from international experiences.