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Over 330,000 Emiratis will be entitled to cast ballots in the upcoming FNC elections. Image Credit:

We live in a nation that has changed utterly over the years. The homeland is progressive, adaptable, and always aware of the principles that laid the foundation stones for its impressive growth.

Changing institutions are an integral part too of that process of growth. Thirteen years ago, when the first elections to the Federal National Council were held, barely 7,000 were eligible to elect their representatives. Now, come the elections set for this autumn, a shade over 330,000 will be entitled to cast ballots. That’s more than twice the number who could vote the late time the FNC elections took place, in October 2015. And half of the 40 seats in the legislative and consultative chamber will be filled by women, reflecting those key values that were fundamental then to the founders, and remain all the more so now. The clear message here is that this is an evolving process, one that must strike a balance between aspirations, progress and traditions.

Electing a new FNC is a national duty for voters, charting a course that shapes and guides this nation for the next four years, assisting the government, shaping and proposing areas of legislation, raising and addressing areas of concerns, just as the traditional majlis did in the time of our forefathers.

The onerous responsibility of organising the FNC elections falls on the shoulders of the National Elections Committee, now hard at work laying the groundwork for the candidates’ nomination and selection process, ensuring that the campaign is above board, that it represents a true debate on our nation — not the whim of populists.

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The plan is detailed, careful to ensure inclusion, acceptance, overseas voting and early balloting, allowing three days of full voting, counting, and appeals process too before the final membership of the new FNC is ensured by the October 13 deadline.

The NEC has developed mobile phone apps to ensure that the nomination process and campaign reaches those who are wirelessly connected to the world through their fingertips, and potential candidates can begin their nomination process when application centres open on August 7. That process will be wrapped up with a preliminary list of candidates, and the final list pending appeals will leave candidates free to begin campaigning in September. Add in overseas voting and the shape of the new FNC should emerge a few days after the main polling day of October 5, representing all Emiratis.