x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

More than 80,000 Emiratis likely to be given vote in FNC election

Dr Gargash did not specify how the names would be published this year.

DUBAI // The full electoral roll for September's elections to the Federal National Council (FNC) will be published next month, and is set to include the names of more than 80,000 Emiratis with a vote.

Dr Anwar Gargash, the Minister of State for FNC Affairs, said yesterday in a lecture at the World Trade Centre that the Ruler's office of each emirate would announce voters' names on July 11.

At the first FNC elections in 2006, the names of the 6,595 enfranchised Emiratis - 5,433 men and 1,162 women - were made public.

Dr Gargash did not specify how the names would be published this year.

He estimated the Rulers of the seven emirates would give more than 80,000 people the vote. It is the second time he has increased his estimate, having previously suggested the number would be 70,000 and then 80,000.

"This year [political participation] will be over 10 per cent [of nationals]," Dr Gargash said, adding a large part of the population was too young to vote.

The electoral roll will be linked to the Emirates Identity Authority to ensure no one under the age of 21 or deceased is invited to vote.

"Four years ago, we got names and we didn't know these people," Dr Gargash said. "Or they were under 21, and two of them were dead.

"The Rulers' offices give names; they don't know what is the status for each person. It was then a big problem to find people. That is why each name will come with contact details this year."

Dr Gargash said he expected the election to be more heavily contested this time. Anyone on the electoral roll can stand as a candidate, so there was likely to be far more jockeying for a place.

That, he said, would make the eventual winners work harder for their constituents.

"The member will think, 'People will say you have been there for four years, what did you do?'" Dr Gargash said.

He told the assembled scholars that although not everyone's name would be on the list, "your name will be there in the future".

"I think the FNC will be stronger, more powerful, than any other FNC before," Dr Gargash said, but he added the council would not be given more than its current advisory powers.

Although the election committee could, if it wished, decide to hold all voting over the internet, Dr Gargash said that would defy the purpose of open political participation.

"We can today do elections with people at home - we could make a programme and do it," he said. "But no. It would not give people a feeling of political participation. They should come to a centre.

"I want locals to feel today they are going to elect."