Voting in the third Federal National Council elections concluded on Saturday. The process marks a significant milestone in this country’s development. The council was formed under the Provisional Constitution in 1971 and its members were initially selected by theGovernment. Since 2006, voting has been open to citizens.
During this election period, there has been a push to elevate awareness of the role that the FNC plays in society. With greater understanding comes more participation. With early voting and electronic polling stations, the process was made easier during this election cycle. The ultimate goal of these and other initiatives was to help citizens understand who they were voting for and what the candidates’ responsibilities should be.
We congratulate the 20 winning candidates. As Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, said, the elections are a “remarkable development” that takes the country a step forward towards the enhancement of parliamentary work.
While voter turnout is moving in the right direction, the journey could be faster. Only 35 per cent of the eligible voters cast their votes during the election period, of whom 61 per cent were men and 38 per cent were women. Even though voter turnout has increased from 28 per cent in 2011, it remains lower than hoped for. However, there are encouraging signs of higher levels of voter engagement in the Northern Emirates, particularly in Ras Al Khaimah.
The FNC can realise its mission only if it is composed of people of all ages and both sexes. The aim of this election and others in the future is to represent the spectrum of interests and opinions of Emiratis and, as such, reflect the diversity of the country. Having only one elected woman out of 20 does not help the FNC realise its goals.
While the number of women FNC members could likely increase when 20 more members are appointed by the Government in the following weeks, it is hoped that to see more diversity in the future will occur through the ballot box. Still, the FNC is developing gradually and it is important that we celebrate this election.