Thursday, May 26, 2011

Nine fold increase in number of Emiratis allowed to vote

The Federal National Council is most representative body in the UAE government. It is a talking shop (it makes recommendations to the rulers), but has no legislative, executive or judicial powers. A limited number of nationals, chosen by the rulers of the seven emirates, are given the franchise to vote. This year the number of voters has been increased 9 fold.

The National:
Dr Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for FNC Affairs, said yesterday he expected about 70,000 Emiratis to go to the polls in September.That would be a ninefold increase on 2006, when 7,757 Emiratis - 6,595 men and 1,162 women - turned out to vote, and more than five times the legal minimum number of eligible electors, 12,000.

However, he said changes were being planned even before the start of the Arab Spring. "Three or four years ago we came up with this step [the new electoral process] and organised for it two years ago. "But also from events happening now it [political participation] became a priority. At the end of the day you speak the same language and share the same culture [with other Arab countries] so you have to keep an open eye around you."

However, he said universal suffrage - rather than appointing electors - may not be right for the UAE. "The histories of other countries are different," he said. "We have a different perspective of the future, what is good for you is not necessarily good for me."
In days gone by, society was small and all the people were able to communicate directly with the Ruler. That, he said, was no longer practical. “The Ruler cannot take the opinion of every person, but those who represent you can discuss the laws.”

The UAE has a population of around 5 million, perhaps 20% of whom are nationals.

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