The Federal National Council

Background

The Federal National Council (FNC) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is one of the UAE’s five federal authorities, as established by the Constitution. Its first session was opened on 2 December 1972. The FNC’s official mandate is to provide for public debate of legislation. Furthermore, the FNC discusses proposals and plans of various federal ministries, entities and public institutions.

  • There are 40 members of the FNC, apportioned amongst the UAE’s seven Emirates.
  • Since 2006, one-half of FNC members have been elected to serve four-year terms (the other half of the body is comprised of officials who have been appointed by the Ruler’s Court of the UAE’s seven Emirates).
  • Of the current FNC members, nine are women. In the 2015 elections, 78 of the 252 candidates were women.

The FNC sessions, held in Abu Dhabi, are open to the public, except in exceptional closed sessions, which must be approved by a majority vote of the Council.


The Electoral Process

In 2006, the UAE established an Electoral College system, whereby half of the FNC’s 40 seats were chosen by designated electors. In line with the UAE’s commitment to expand political participation among citizens in a measured and sustainable way, the size of the UAE’s Electoral College greatly increased for the 2015 election. In 2015, there were 224,279 electors nationwide, compared to 135,308 in the 2011 contest, a 66 percent increase.

  • In 2015, 48 percent of all electors were women and 67 percent of all electors were under the age of 40.
  • Elections are conducted via secret ballot at electronic voting machines in 36 polling centers throughout the UAE.
  • Any member of the electoral college can be a candidate for the FNC.
  • FNC candidates are required to run on individual platforms, and campaign financing is strictly regulated. Campaigns are privately financed, and the use of public funds for campaigning is prohibited. Each campaign must submit financial disclosure forms. 
  • Candidates are encouraged to report complaints or irregularities to the National Elections Committee, which is authorized to review such issues provided they are raised within 48 hours of the close of polling.