Federal National Council

The Federal National Council (Arabic: المجلس الوطني الإتحادي "al-Majlis al-Watani al-Ittihadi") is the legislature of the United Arab Emirates. The Council has 40 members (eight from Abu Dhabi and Dubai; six from Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah; and four from Ajman, Umm Al Quwain and Fujairah), with advisory tasks rather than legislative power. Twenty members will now be elected by the 6,689 members of the Electoral College; the other 20 will be nominated by their respective emirates.

History

The Federal National Council (FNC) was formed under the Provisional Constitution of the United Arab Emirates in 1971 as a permanent component of the country's governing structure, which also includes the Supreme Council, President, Cabinet and Judiciary.

Over the last 37 years, the FNC has discussed hundreds of issues and draft laws concerning the people and economy of the country. According to the Constitution, federal draft laws first have to pass through the FNC for review and recommendations. Draft laws and amendments formed with help of specialized house committees are presented to the Council for discussion and later sent back to the Cabinet for consideration and approval. Throughout its history, the Council has influenced the Federal Government to draft laws. Original draft laws from the Cabinet were amended by the Council to suit the needs of the citizens which they represent. [Staff Report. "What is the Federal National Council." Gulfnews.com]

The FNC is responsible under the Constitution for examining, and, if it wishes, amending, all proposed federal legislation, and is empowered to summon and to question any Federal Minister regarding Ministry performance. One of the main duties of the FNC is to discuss the annual budget. Specialized sub-committees and a Research and Studies Unit have been formed to assist FNC members to cope with the increasing demands of modern government. [UAE Politics. The Political System of the UAE. www.uae.gov.ae/Government/politics.htm]

Elections

Not all UAE nationals are allowed to vote or run for office. Only 6,689 out of some 800,000 Emirati citizens in the country are eligible to take part. Those eligible were chosen by the rulers of the emirates.

Women are allowed to vote and run for office but there is no quota to ensure a set number of women get elected as there is in some other Arab countries. Over 14 percent of candidates are women. By the end of 2003, moreover, all forty members of the FNC remain male.

Election officials are billing the polls as a trial run they hope will pave the way for universal suffrage in the coming years. Even then, however, only half of the FNC will be elected. [Ibid]

In late 2006, half of the organization was elected [http://www.electionguide.org/country-news.php?ID=224] . These elections were seen as the first steps toward emerati democracy. [The Report: Dubai 2007. The Oxford Business Group. 2007]

Notes and References


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