The Federal National Council (FNC) plays a crucial role in the United Arab Emirates’ governance system. Rooted in the Shura system, the FNC has evolved to become an integral part of the country’s decision-making process. Here’s a comprehensive look at the FNC, its history, its roles, and the upcoming elections.
FNC’s Founding and Evolution: The FNC, one of the UAE Constitution’s five federal authorities, emerged from the Shura system, a consultative council that dates back before the country’s establishment on December 2, 1971. Convened by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan just two months after the UAE’s formation, the FNC’s first session took place on February 12, 1972. Initially, all FNC members were appointed by the rulers of the seven emirates to ensure representation. However, in 2006, Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan introduced elections, allowing half of the FNC to be elected, and empowering Emiratis to participate in the political process.
Roles and Achievements: The FNC serves as a legislative and monitoring body, drafting constitutional amendments and federal laws, and providing a platform for discussions on public issues. Over its 51-year history, the FNC has held 493 sessions, debated constitutional amendments, passed bills, discussed matters of public interest, and engaged with ministers through questions. It has also contributed on an international level with statements on local, Arab, and global matters, and has reviewed numerous international treaties and agreements.
Composition and Responsibilities: Comprising 40 members, the FNC is distributed across the emirates as follows:
- Ras Al Khaimah: 6 seats
- Umm Al Quwain: 4 seats
Constitutional changes introduced an electoral college, allowing half of the council to be elected. FNC members represent the entire Union, not just their emirate, and they participate in drafting constitutional amendments, federal laws, and budget plans. They also exercise political control by raising issues for discussion, addressing questions to government officials, and addressing complaints from citizens.
Eligibility and Sessions: To be an FNC member, one must be a citizen of a UAE emirate, permanently residing in the emirate they represent, at least 25 years old, have a good civil standing, and be literate. The FNC’s term lasts four calendar years, with an ordinary annual term of at least seven months. Sessions are held publicly, though they can be held in secret upon request, and decisions are made by a majority vote. The President of the Council’s vote prevails in case of a tie.
Upcoming Elections: The preparation for the next FNC elections is underway. The registration period for electoral bodies to nominate themselves for FNC membership began on August 15 and will continue until August 18. These nominations will undergo a thorough verification process by the National Election Committee. The upcoming elections will determine the 20 members of the FNC. Abu Dhabi and Dubai will each receive four seats, while Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah will each have three. Ajman, Umm Al Quwain, and Fujairah will each be assigned two seats.