Following the completion of the fourth cycle of the Federal National Council (FNC) elections, the UAE has reached a new stage of Tamkeen, the country’s political empowerment program announced by the late H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan in his 34th National Day speech in 2005.
This year’s elections built on the achievements of the three previous election cycles in 2006, 2011, and 2015. Their success is attributed to the unwavering support and guidance of the UAE leadership that has helped ensure compliance with international best practices across all stages of the electoral process.
The strong participation of voters nationwide and overseas testifies to the high level of political awareness among Emiratis and their keenness to fulfill their national duty. The country has taken proactive measures to empower its citizens and boost their confidence in the role of FNC in communicating their requirements to the decision makers and identifying effective solutions that enhance people’s happiness and well-being.
The fourth cycle of the elections witnessed an unprecedented voter turnout, with a 48.6 percent increase compared to the third cycle, reflecting the citizens’ interest in contributing to the decision-making process and improving parliamentary work. The results include the vote counts from voting abroad, early voting, and the main election day. A total of 117,592 voters participated in the 2019 elections, accounting for 34.81 percent of the electoral college. To compare, the 2015 elections attracted 79,157 voters.
The UAE’s political development drive led to a significant rise in the number of electoral college members since the first election cycle. In 2006, the electoral college included 6,595 citizens. This number reached 135,308 in 2011, 224,281 in 2015 – an increase of 66 percent, and 337,738 in 2019 – an increase of 50.6 percent.
The highlight of the 2019 elections was the directive of late H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to raise the representation of women in FNC to 50 percent. This new milestone is part of the country’s efforts to empower women in all fields.
In June 2019, the National Election Committee (NEC) issued the Executive Regulations for the fourth cycle of the FNC elections.
Comprising 69 articles across nine chapters, the Executive Regulations formed the legal framework of the elections at all stages of the electoral process and aimed to ensure its transparency and integrity. Clarifying all aspects of the elections, the document outlined the mandate and the rights and responsibilities of the voters and candidates, as well as the committees that managed the elections, and details of the electoral guides.
The Executive Regulations contained the provisions of the Presidential Resolution No. (1) of 2019, issued by the UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan to raise women’s representation in FNC to 50 percent. They also included the formation of the Smart Systems Committee as a new sub-committee, in addition to eliminating electoral silence to allow candidates to continue campaigning until one day before election day.
In coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, NEC conducted overseas voting to enable members of the electoral college residing abroad to exercise their right to vote. A total of 118 polling stations, located at UAE embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions, welcomed 1,842 voters from 10am to 6pm (local time) between September 22 and 23, 2019.
Meanwhile, nine polling stations across all emirates were open for early voting from 9am to 6 pm between October 1 and 3, 2019, contributing to the strong voter turnout.
On the main election day, October 5, 2019, 39 polling stations remained open nationwide from 8am to 8pm.
Two civil society organizations submitted formal requests to monitor the 2019 FNC elections. Representatives of Emirates Association for Lawyers and Legal (EALL) and the Emirates Association for Human Rights (EAHR) were present at the polling stations on October 5, 2019.
NEC also organized the 2019 FNC Elections Visit Program that included attendance of the main election day on October 5. As part of the program, the Committee hosted representatives of several international entities that observed the electoral process to learn about the country’s experience in organizing the elections and implementing a state-of-the-art electronic voting system that was introduced in the first election cycle.
The delegation comprised members of the Arab Parliament, the General Secretariat of the Arab League, the International Centre for Parliamentary Studies (ICPS), Sharjah Children Parliament, and guests from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Egypt.