UAE advisory body elections see 35.29% turnout: official

A roll of 330 candidates includes 87 women

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A total of 79,157 eligible Emirati voters on Saturday elected 20 representatives of the 40-member government advisory body the Federal National Council (FNC), representing a turnout of 35.29 percent from citizens eligible to vote, authorities announced on Sunday evening.

“This election process is considered a successful one by all standards,” said Anwar Gargash, the minister of state for foreign affairs and federal national council affairs, in a statement. Of the 79,157 voters who took part, 48,330 were men and 30,827 women, according to the statement.

The 36 polling centers opened at 8:00 a.m. and closed 12 hours later. In the last round of elections in 2011, participation stood at 27.75 percent of the electorate, said Gargash.

Half of the FNC’s members are 20 are elected by eligible Emirati citizens, and the other half are selected by the rulers of each of the seven emirates.

A column in the Abu Dhabi government-owned newspaper The National called on every Emirati citizen on the electoral college to cast their ballot, adding that the “tradition of voting is still very new and it is something that needs to be instilled in members of society at a young age.”

Eleven of the polling stations are in the capital Abu Dhabi, six in Dubai, seven in Sharjah, two each in Ajman and Umm Al-Qaiwain, five in Ras Al-Khaimah, and three in Fujairah.

A roll of 330 candidates included 87 women.

The final list of candidates is as follows: 89 from Abu Dhabi, 60 from Dubai, 61 from Sharjah, 41 from Ras Al Khaimah, 23 from Ajman, 20 from Umm Al-Qaiwain, and 36 from Fujairah. There are 74 women contesting from all the Emirates.

Meanwhile, NEC said Friday that up to 52 per cent of members in the Electoral College are men while women make up the remaining 48 per cent.

Emirati women have major roles in the country. A female Emirati air force pilot has become the first Arab woman which has taken part in the U.S.-led bombing campaign against ISIS in Syria.

The seven-emirate Gulf country is currently witnessing at least a 57 percent increase of voters’ participation in comparison to 2011 election where there were 129,000 eligible voters, and just 6,000 in its first election in 2006.

The UAE widened political participation after the Arab Spring series of revolutions hit the region in 2011. However, the Gulf state is still wary of Islamist-radical elements in the region and in response it introduced sweeping new counterterrorism legislation last year.

The UAE has more than 9 million population in which Emirati nationals make up about 1.4 million.

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