x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

FNC voters warned over election promises

Voters warned not to back candidates who make campaign promises they can't keep.

ABU DHABI // Voters in this month's FNC election should not be tempted to back candidates who make campaign promises they cannot keep, the head of the National Election Committee said yesterday.

In the first two days of campaigning there have been a large number of newspaper advertisements in which candidates make promises on what they will deliver if they are elected.

Promises include solving the unemployment problem, establishing more rights for women in the workplace and increasing the FNC's powers.

Dr Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Minister of State for FNC Affairs and chairman of the NEC, said that overall he was pleased with campaigns so far.

"We are now witnessing a positive national mobility, a good and positive dialogue," he said.

Although candidates are not allowed to make promises they cannot keep, or deceive votes in any way, he said it was normal during an election campaign to make promises.

"Naturally, the question whether the programmes promise more than they can achieve, I think this is a worldwide phenomenon," he said.

"Any candidate in the world would promise you to bring in more jobs for the youth and create jobs and create a more viable economy and so on so forth. So I think, naturally, a candidate would raise the ceiling of expectations."

He said the NEC's role was to intervene as little as possible during campaigning. Their main role, he said, was to make sure the election timeline is followed.

"I reiterate that the national election committee is ultimately a committee that aims to regulate and oversee the election process, without intervening in every single detail," he said. "The committee tries as much as possible not to intervene unless there is a clear and explicit violation."

He said voters were mature enough to determine for themselves whether candidates were capable of delivering on their promises.

"It is the job of the voter to decide whether these calls by the candidate attract him, are they reasonable?" he said. "Does he think this person is qualified to achieve his programme?

"So I don't think it is the mission of the committee to monitor each and every election promise and put it under a microscope and study it and say this promise is possible and this one is not."

Dr Gargash said he believed voters were "mature enough and can read through these things and weigh the candidate and his expertise against what he promises".

So far, he said, candidates were choosing to use modern technology to communicate with voters, including Twitter, email and Facebook.

He said involvement in the elections was crucial at this time. A demonstration voting booth was installed yesterday at Mushrif Mall in Abu Dhabi, which Dr Anwar Gargash later visited, to allow larger participation from the public and be available to voters for trial.

Saeed Al Ghafli, a member of the NEC, demonstrated how to use the booth. "This is for all voters, citizens, and expats, to try and see how they are used," he said.

"How we are maintaining elections." Candidates on election day will need first to register upon reaching a polling station, then insert their ID card in the voting booth on the right hand side, and then either select candidates from the screen or enter their candidate number.

When they finish, a ballot paper will be printed which they will need to place manually in the election box. Eleven other booths will be installed by today across the country in various malls including Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi, Dubai Mall, Al Ain Mall and Ajman city centre.

osalem@thenational.ae