Today is a happy day. Maldives President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s reaction after the MDP (Maldivian Democratic Party) won a clear majority in the 87-member Majlis. The elections for the Maldivian Parliament had 2,64,442 eligible voters (Goa has about four times the number: 11,31,000 voters in 2019). Provisional results suggest a landslide with over 60 of 87 seats to the MDP.
About 80 per cent of voters cast their ballot in only the third multi-party parliamentary election in the country. The elections come just over six months after the Maldives voted out former President Abdulla Yameen in September 2018. So it seems it’s full steam ahead for President Solih and his promise of a reform agenda. The MDP decided to contest alone in these elections despite being part of a four-party coalition even as questions have been raised on the government’s viability.
“Many of our coalition partners in the government were contenders in this election, some were our opponents. I assure the people, as I’ve done time and again, the coalition remains intact. I haven’t forgotten the hard work by our coalition partners to bring the country back from the brink of President Yameen’s disastrous rule. I will continue to work with the leaders of all our coalition partners to ensure we deliver on our pledges to the people,” President Solih added.
Ex-President Yameen, who is facing corruption charges, did not run in the parliamentary elections. But former Home Minister, under him, Umar Naseer told SNI: “This shows how disorganised the opposition is. The opposition requires a new direction and a fresh start”. He admitted, “I was expecting a defeat but not on this scale”. But he threw his hat into the ring for the future, saying “There is room for manoeuvring but it will be an uphill battle”.
President Solih has promised reform of the judiciary, police and bureaucracy and the recovery of money that former President Yameen is accused of garnering through corrupt deals. The MDP ran a campaign called Agenda 19. It consists of 19 concept papers that form the party’s legislative agenda, including bills to introduce a minimum wage, unemployment benefits and a personal income tax.
President Solih, in a statement, said, “While we celebrate, we must also not forget the immense challenges that lie ahead of us. The work to strengthen our democratic institutions, to deliver basic services for citizens, to our promise of bringing corruption, past and present to book and ending impunity starts now. I look forward to working with all of you to realize our promises to the people.”
The landslide MDP win cements the comeback of former president Mohamed Nasheed, who was in exile until late last year.
When SNI spoke to former President Nasheed just after the presidential polls, he said, “I have always believed in a parliamentary system and I always believe that Maldives’ political stability would hinge upon a parliamentary system. Again and again I must stress, I will not do anything without consulting the President and without his consent. The President is our man. We grew up together. He is my best friend. There is no way I’m going to do anything that will disturb his Presidency. His Presidency is mine. It’s ours”.