All you need to know about FNC elections in UAE

All you need to know about FNC elections in UAE

The FNC has its roots from the Shura system that was adopted long before the country was formed on December 2, 1971.

The Federal National Council (FNC) is one the five federal authorities stipulated in the UAE Constitution that also include The Supreme Council of the Union, the President of the Union and Vice President, the Council of Ministers of the Union, and the Federal Judiciary.

The FNC or parliamentary body has its roots from the Shura system that was adopted long before the country was formed on December 2, 1971. Shura was a consultative council or assembly and the process of decision-making was arrived at following consultation and deliberation.

Two months after the country’s formation, the UAE’s Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, convened the first session of the 40-member FNC on February 12, 1972.

At first, all FNC member were appointed by rulers of the seven emirates to allow full representation. But in 2006, the UAE’s second President, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, declared that half of the FNC would be elected, allowing Emiratis to run for office and vote. Also that year, nine Emirati women became members of the FNC, including eight women who were appointed and Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, ,who was elected. Dr Al Qubaisi later served as the Speaker of the FNC from 2015 to 2019, making her the first woman leader of a national assembly in the Arab world.

The FNC has been serving the UAE and its people for 51 years. It has remained true to its mandate as declared by Sheikh Zayed back in 1972:

"My brother members, in these historical, critical moments as your council comes together, the citizens on this good earth...are looking at you, confident that with God's help, will contribute in achieving their hopes in pride and strength, progress and well-being.”

What has the FNC accomplished in five decades?

FNC has held 493 sessions, during which members have debated seven constitutional amendments; passed 533 bills; discussed 282 issues of public interest and helped lobby for certain issues, and have faced ministers with 483 questions. On the international level, FNC has issued 67 statements on local, Arab and international issues; reviewed 675 international treaties and agreements.

What is the composition of the FNC?

The FNC consists of 40 members, distributed over the emirates according to the Constitution as follows:

8 seats for Abu Dhabi

8 seats for Dubai

6 seats for Sharjah

6 seats for Ras Al Khaimah

4 seats for Ajman

4 seats for Fujairah.

4 seats for Umm Al Quwain.

Constitutional amendments were made to allow half of the 40-member council to be elected by an electoral college, and women were allowed to become members. Meeting sessions were extended from two to four years, and required to be no fewer than seven months in a year. There is also Ministry of FNC Affairs that was created.

What is the main role of an FNC member?

A member of the Council shall represent the people of the whole Union and not the emirate for which he/ she was elected or selected.

What are the core competencies of the FNC?

Legislative role: The Council drafts constitutional amendments, federal laws, general budget of the state and the projects of its final accounts. It also expresses opinions in international treaties and conventions.

Monitoring role: The Council exercises political control through specific tools, including the presentation of general issues for discussion and submission of recommendations to the government, addressing questions to the Prime Minister or to the ministers, each in his own jurisdiction, and the disposal of complaints by citizens against federal government bodies.

What are the conditions to become an FNC member

According to the UAE Constitution, members of the FNC must be a citizen of one of the seven emirates making up the UAE and permanently residing in the emirate he/she represents in the Council.

The member must be at least 25 years old; has good civil standing and reputation, with no prior convictions of an offense or vice (Accused candidates that were legally vindicated in a court of law are eligible to run for Council). Candidates must be literate.

How do FNC members convene?

The term of FNC commences from the date of its first meeting and for a term of four calendar years.

The Council holds an ordinary annual term of not less than seven months. It may be convened in an extraordinary term when required, and it may not consider topics other than those it was called for.

The Council sessions are held in public, and may be held in secret at the request of the Government or the President of the Council or at least one third of its members.

The Council shall not hold its sessions and its deliberations shall be valid only in the presence of a majority of its members (21 members).

Decisions shall be made by an absolute majority of the members present and, in case the votes’ results turn out to be equal, the votes of the President of the Council party shall prevail.

The plenary session operates through an agenda which is the organizational mechanism through which the legislative and supervisory functions of the meeting are determined.

Speaking in a plenary session is regulated in a strict manner. The member may not speak in the session until the permission is required from the president and is actually granted. The Prime Minister, the Ministers and the committee rapporteurs shall be excluded from this list in relation to the topics presented from their committees.

The Council has the right, based on the President’s suggestion, to set a time for the completion of the discussion of one of the topics and adopt the opinion or close the discussion, and the competent minister shall attend the session devoted to discuss the draft law or the general topic of the supervised party.

How are the preparations for the next FNC elections?

The registration process for members of the electoral bodies who wish to nominate themselves for FNC membership began on Tuesday, August 15, and will continue until Friday, August 18.

All nominations will undergo thorough scrutiny and verification by the National Election Committee to ensure compliance with constitutional prerequisites. Incomplete applications or those not meeting the criteria will be excluded from consideration.

The election is for the 20 members of the FNC – Abu Dhabi and Dubai each receive four seats, while Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah each have three. Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, and Fujairah are each assigned two seats.

News Source: Khaleej Times

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