FNC elections: what happens next?

Emiratis went to the polls in their thousands on Saturday — but what's the path ahead?

RAK,  UNITED ARAB EMIRATES , OCTOBER 5 – 2019 :- Residents casting their vote for the FNC election at the HCT Ras Al Khaimah Women’s College in Ras Al Khaimah. ( Pawan Singh / The National ) For News. Story by Ruba

Tens of thousands of Emiratis went to the polls on Saturday in the largest Federal National Council election to date, where 20 new members of the 40-strong council were elected.  But what happens now?

What is the FNC? 

The Federal National Council is a body of 40 members - 20 elected, 20 appointed - that advises the Government on matters of national importance. It can pass, amend and reject federal laws and discuss international treaties, while it is also a forum for members to raise concerns of ordinary Emiratis. It was established in 1971 but voting was only introduced in 2006. Members hold office for four years.

What happened on Saturday?

Twenty new FNC members were elected — four representing Abu Dhabi and Dubai, three from Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah, while Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah each had two. But these are preliminary results and will not be confirmed by the National Election Committee until October 13, following the end of an appeals process.

Why was Saturday's election significant? 

Despite some concerns about the low turnout, there was a major increase in registered voters, up from 224,279 in 2015 to 337,738. Another development to note is that this year at least half of the FNC will be female. Seven women were elected on Saturday — up from the one elected woman in the previous election.

How are the other 20 members picked?

The Rulers of each emirate will nominate the remaining 20 members before the FNC sits for the new season.

When does the FNC sit?

The council sits for about seven months of the year in Abu Dhabi, beginning usually during late October or early November. The FNC can also be called for a special session should the need arise. FNC meetings are also open to the public but may be held in private if so requested.