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Government, Executive and Legislative

federal cabinet, Supreme Council, Sheikh Zayed, veto, SFC

The highest political authority is the Supreme Federal Council (SFC), sometimes called the Supreme Council of the Union (SCU), which comprises the seven emirate rulers and establishes general UAE policy. It usually meets four times a year and elects the president to indefinitely renewable five-year terms. Sheikh Zayed has been president since independence and was most recently reelected in 1996. Each ruler has a vote, but on substantive matters the dominant emirates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai can exercise a veto. The Council of Ministers, appointed by the president, is both the federal cabinet and principal source of legislative authority. The SFC ratifies laws enacted by the Council of Ministers. The Federal National Council (FNC) is the UAE’s nominal legislature, but has only an advisory role. It does, however, play a significant role as a forum for discussion of important national issues. The 40 members of the FNC are selected by the UAE’s president—with the larger, wealthier emirates given the greater number of seats—and serve two-year, indefinitely renewable terms. The constitution permits a popularly elected FNC and it could someday evolve into a truly representative legislature.

Article key phrases:

federal cabinet, Supreme Council, Sheikh Zayed, veto, SFC, Council of Ministers, substantive, independence, constitution, vote, laws, significant role, forum, Union, times, members, Dubai


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