After six months of Presidential elections, the third multiparty parliamentary elections were held in the Maldives last Saturday. The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) secured a majority in the Parliament by winning 67 out of the 87 seats. MDP secured majority of the seats from Male city, Addu city and Fuvahmulah. This number is the highest any party has won since Maldives adopted a democratic multiparty system in 2008.
The partners in the joint coalition which was formed during the Presidential elections in September 2018-MDP, Adalath Party (AP), Jumhoori Party (JP), and Moumoon Reform Movement (MRM) – contested separately in the parliamentary elections as they failed to come into a consensus on seat sharing. MRM backed independent candidates for 20 seats of which only one candidate won. AP, which contested for nine seats, failed to win a single seat. JP which formed an electoral alliance with the opposition-Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) won five out of 41 seats it had contested.
Despite the landslide victory, President Ibrahim Mohammad Solih, who belongs to the MDP assured to continue working with the leaders of the coalition partners in his administration. The newly elected Members of the Parliament will take oath of office on May 28, 2019. Former President Mohamed Nasheed, who was sentenced to jail by the erstwhile Yameen regime, came back to Parliament as an MP, after winning the elections from Male constituency.
The elections were in a peaceful atmosphere. Out of 264442 eligible voters, 212,079 turned out to vote, which accounted for 80 per cent. Though, the elections were violence free, reportedly, the National Complaints Bureau of Maldives received 126 election related complains of which two were about ballot papers, four were about alleged undue influences over the right to vote, and rest were regarding registration procedure. However, Maldives Election Commission said none of the complaints were significant enough to affect the election results. Transparency Maldives and other election observers present in the country during the elections reported that the “election day processes were transparent and well-administered. President Solih in a statement issued on Sunday congratulated the people of Maldives, the country’s Election Commission, the Maldives Police Service and the Maldives National Defence Force for conducting the election across the country under peaceful and civil condition.
The outcome of the parliamentary elections is testimony of Maldivian people’s support to the agenda of joint coalition headed by the MDP. Even though, all the coalition partners have expressed their commitment to stick together and support the Solih administration, on several occasions, some of the partners did not extend their support in passing legislations. Due to differences on issues of national interest among the coalition partners, viability of Solih administration to complete a full term was suspected.
The two thirds majority won by the MDP in the Parliament has given much hope for a stable government in the country. The election outcome has also given President Solih a wonderful opportunity to successfully implement the pledges made during his Presidential elections campaign.
India as the largest neighbour of the Indian Ocean island nation, would like to see a stable and peaceful Maldives. India-Maldives ties are on an upswing following the election of President Solih. In fact, The Indian Prime Minister was the ‘Guest of Honour’ at the swearing-in ceremony of the Maldivian President. The bilateral ties got a further boost when President Solih visited India in his first overseas trip.
Recently, the Indian External Affairs Minister had visited the island nation and held extensive talks with the Maldivian leaders. The two sides had discussed ways to enhance bilateral relations on a variety of issues including consular issues, capacity development, health, trade, investment and economic cooperation. The Indian External Affairs Minister had announced New Delhi’s decision to renew the quota for essential commodities at the request of the Maldives.
Script: Gulbin Sultana, Research Analyst, IDSA