FNC polls: The real winner was evident before the results

fnc elections, fnc polls, opinion, results, women
Emiratis casting their vote during the last day of FNC election at the Dubai World Trade Center on October 5, 2019.-Photo by Neeraj Murali

With these elections, the UAE has also set another great example for the rest of the world.

By Vicky Kapur (From the Executive Editor's Desk)

Published: Sun 6 Oct 2019, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 6 Oct 2019, 5:58 PM

While touring the polling centre for the previous Federal National Council (FNC) elections in 2015, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, affirmed that democracy has been part of the UAE's heritage "since the time of our fathers and forefathers, and we inherited that value with pride and belief in our social, cultural and religious legacy without compromising the rich Arab-Islamic culture." Indeed, the UAE and its people have historically been guided by the concept or principle of 'Shura' - or governance by consultation - even before the formation of the federation, during the era of Trucial States. It is this far-sightedness of the rulers and leaders of this country that is enabling the nation to reach beyond the stars while remaining grounded to its roots of democratic governance.
Yesterday was the final day of elections for 20 seats in FNC, a consultative council and the parliamentary body of the UAE, and it witnessed the largest ever voter turnout in the country. As hundreds of thousands of Emiratis participated in the country's biggest electoral exercise, it demonstrated 'how' and showcased 'why' the UAE remains a regional and global leader in observing the principles of equality, freedom, and justice. The mood was jubilant and the atmosphere festive at the 39 polling stations set up across the country for the 337,738 registered Emirati voters (50 per cent more than in 2015) to choose from among the 479 candidates. From bagpipes to flag-waiving to the khashm-makhs (the traditional tribal nose-kiss) to handshakes and smiles, the 12-hour period between 8am and 8pm was full of moments of pride, solidarity, and kinship.
With these elections, the UAE has also set another great example for the rest of the world - Emirati women will occupy half of the FNC's 40 seats, making the country a shining beacon of hope in gender equality and parity. Almost 200 of the 479 candidates in the fray were women and even the electorate had more than 50 per cent representation by women, making gender balance a genuine underlying agenda of the country's largest democratic exercise. Dr Amal Al Qubaisi, the speaker of the FNC, was, in fact, the first woman to be elected in the debut FNC elections back in 2006. Yesterday, as they came in droves, voters young and old were beaming, visibly proud at participating in the landmark elections. While some came along with their friends, others were accompanied by their families, giving their young children an introduction to the democratic mechanism.
It was indeed a vote by the youth, for the youth. More than 60 per cent of the voters registered for the fourth-ever FNC elections were aged 40 or less, highlighting the priority and prominence that the UAE government accords to the millennials and Generation Z. Be it the appointment of a Gen Z representative as the world's youngest minister (Minister of Youth) or creating youth-focused strategies and developing special programmes to harness their skills and aptitude, the UAE has always recognised and encouraged the true potential of the youth. Last night, as expectations built up and officials got ready to announce the results by 9pm, the indisputable winners were already conspicuous: The Emirati youth and the UAE's future.

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