The United Arab Emirates increased the number of citizens eligible to vote in the country’s legislative elections, CNN reported on Monday, as protests calling for greater political reform continue sweeping across much of the Arab world.
More than 129,000 voters can now cast ballots in the UAE’s upcoming election for the country’s legislative advisory body – the Federal National Council. Still, only around 12 percent of Emirati citizens are allowed to vote in the country’s upcoming election.
In the 2006 election for the FNC, around 6,500 members of an electoral college were eligible to vote. Voters in the Gulf sheikhdom will elect a new FNC on September 24.
Emiratis reacted to the surprise government announcement with excitement, the Dubai-based Gulf News reported. The expected increase in eligibility for the September election was previously thought to number only 80,000 voters.
One local university professor even told the Gulf News that all Emiratis are now dreaming to make the UAE “the best democracy on earth”.
“The national elections with a large pool of citizens will contribute to the building of a successful parliamentary experiment, paving the way to free, direct elections and enhancing the democratic experience in the country,” Ahmad Bin Shabib Al Daheri, former first deputy speaker of the FNC, told Gulf News.
The new franchise in the UAE, however, is far from universal.
With a population of an estimated 1 million Emirati citizens, the expanded pool of voters contains only about 12 percent of the country, reported Reuters.
Full Article: UAE | United Arab Emirates | Dubai | Voting Rights.