The Federal National Council held its second round of elections in 2011. By then, the process had come to gain even more confidence and importance as a tool for expanding political participation among UAE citizens. The decision of the Supreme Council of the Union No. (4) for 2006 was amended – as was the UAE President’s resolution No. (3) for 2006 – to increase the minimum number of members in the electoral colleges to no less than 300 times the number of representatives for each emirate.
The total number of members in the electoral college reached 135,308, 54% of whom were male and 46% female. This political event allowed an even larger segment of Emirati citizens to choose their representatives in the FNC, while all guarantees were put in place to ensure a proper and transparent electoral process, reflecting a high sense of national responsibility from the country’s leaders to cater for the needs of the citizens.
The preliminary list saw the participation of 469 male and female candidates in the FNC elections: 117 in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, 124 in Dubai, 94 in Sharjah, 60 in Ras Al Khaimah, 34 in Ajman, 19 in Umm Al Quwain, and 21 in Al Fujairah. A total of 85 women ran for the FNC elections in 2011. A total of 19 male and female candidates withdrew their candidatures from the FNC elections before the deadline on September 21, 2011, as per the approved elections timetable.
Eight (8) candidates withdrew from the race in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, 7 in Sharjah, 1 in Dubai, 1 in Ajman, 1 in Ras Al Khaimah, and 1 in Al Fujairah. No candidates withdrew from the race in the Emirate of Umm Al Quwain. The final list of candidates counted 450 candidates for the FNC elections 2011.
Candidates relied heavily on digital and electronic advertising to promote their electoral campaigns, namely the main social networking sites: Twitter and Facebook. These portals allowed direct interaction with voters to discuss different aspects of each candidate’s plans, programmes and goals.
The National Elections Commission implemented the electronic voting system at 13 electoral centres across the UAE, where – during a 12-hour timeframe – electoral college members cast their votes, directly after verification of their ID cards issued by the Emirates Identity Authority.
As such, it is safe to say that the United Arab Emirates – with the continuous support of its wise leadership – has entered a new stage in the national development programme, by broadening the base of popular participation in FNC elections (held on the September 24, 2011) to elect half of the members of the Council.
The elections witnessed a significant increase in the number of members, whereby the number of electors equalled 300 times the number of representative in each respective emirate – tripling the size of the electoral base from 2006, which only equalled 100 times the number of representative in each respective emirate.