Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Revised: When what's not said is as important as what is said

[I may have missed it, but I believe The National's article has been revised to emphasize that there is some dissatisfaction with indirect elections by an electoral college. See insert below.]

The Abu Dhabi owned The National reports:
The UAE announced today it would hold nationwide elections for the Federal National Council on September 24.

The elections, in which a minimum of 12,000 Emiratis will participate as members of the electoral college, will see half the members of the FNC elected by vote.

The election announcement, which came in a statement by the National Election Committee, follows a decision to triple the minimum number of Emiratis allowed to vote and the release of updated election guidelines by the NEC.

This will be the second election ever for the FNC, the country's advisory quasi-parliament.

The other half of FNC members are appointed by the rulers of each emirate.
So the number of with a vote has tripled. Let's do some more math. The UAE reports a population of 8 million. As much as 20% of those may be Emirati citizens. Compared to 12,000? And relative to the dilution due to giving the rulers choice of half the FNC membership? (Not to mention that the rulers also choose the 12,000.)

Omitted from the report is the recent call for direct elections. That's not responsible journalism. But that's not something you can blame the journalist for.

Inserted into my original post. I either missed or it's been been added to The National's report:
Dr al Muazzin, who has called for oversight committees to ensure that all families are represented as voters, said: “Our only concern is that there must be transparency in choosing the names for the electoral colleges.”

A decree last month tripled the minimum size of the electoral colleges in each emirate, which elect members to the FNC. Now at least 12,000 Emiratis will take part in the elections. There is no maximum number of electoral college members.

Nevertheless, several former FNC members have called for all Emiratis to be allowed to vote, and a petition posted online last week and signed by 133 Emiratis called for direct and universal elections for the FNC and full legislative powers to the council. Currently the FNC cannot initiate legislation.
That's all of interest. What I find it especially interesting is call that all families be represented. I suppose he means families as in tribes. Would that be equal representation? or proportional?

Amir Taheri writes:
What we see in the greater Mideast is a political upheaval, not an economic revolt. People are fed up with being treated as subjects of a pharaoh, sultan, emir, sheik or "supreme guide." They want a new relationship with their governments, based on respect for the citizen.

Are citizens in the UAE so comfortable with the paternalistic system that they don't want to rock the boat and risk losing that comfort?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, I think the UAE needs to sort its priorities out.

The Apple store opening got more local Twitter coverage than the democratic petition last week.

9:14 PM  

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