Candidates in the United Arab Emirates began campaigning on Sunday for the second-ever elections to choose half the members of the purely consultative Federal National Council.
A total of 468 candidates, including 85 women, are running in the polls on September 24, the second since the UAE federation was established upon its independence from Britain in 1971.
Candidates had already tapped into social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook, which they used to introduce themselves to the electorate.
Only 129,000 people named by the rulers of the seven emirates are allowed to vote, compared with only 6,000 in the first elections in 2006. Candidates also should come from this chosen electoral college.
Only half of the seats in the National Council are elected, while the rest are appointed by the rulers.
The Council has no legislative powers and acts merely as an advisory board to the Federal Supreme Council, the country’s highest governing body made up of the federation’s seven rulers.
The National Council cannot overturn or block laws or decrees issued and ratified by the Supreme Council.
Campaigning is bound by a set of rules and regulations dictated by the National Election Council and include campaign finance restrictions that limit candidate expenditures to a maximum of two million dirhams ($545,000).
Other restrictions include a ban on using official state symbols.