Just over a quarter of eligible voters cast their ballot for the second election held in the United Arab Emirates for an advisory council that the Gulf Arab state hopes will forge closer links between its rulers and the people.
Half the seats in the 40-seat Federal National Council (FNC) were contested by 468 candidates seeking the votes of the 129,000-strong electorate — just 12 percent of the Emirati nationals in the world’s No.3 oil exporter. A little over 36,000 people, or 28 percent of those eligible, had cast their ballots by the time polls closed.
“Some expected, including me, a bigger turnout,” Anwar Gargash, the minister in charge of the election, told reporters in Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital.
Home to business hub Dubai and major oil producer Abu Dhabi, the small Gulf country has been virtually untouched by the Arab Spring, in which the heads of state in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya were toppled.
The vote is an attempt by the rulers of the seven emirates to introduce representation gradually. The 20 other members of the council are directly appointed and the body only has advisory powers.
Former FNC members have called on the UAE government to grant the assembly more powers and have the entire council elected. [ID:nL5E7KK0RC]
In a partial concession, the government increased the number of citizens entitled to vote to 129,000, nearly 20 times as many as could vote in the country’s first elections in 2006. It has not made clear how the voters or candidates were chosen.
Full Article: UAE’s second election has low turnout | Reuters.