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Maldives: Majlis Elections: Ruling Coalition Gets a Comfortable Majority:

Paper No: 5671                       Dated 24-Mar-2014
By Dr. S.Chandrasekharan.

Preliminary results in the just concluded Parliamentary Elections (Majlis), showed that the government aligned candidates secured a comfortable majority with 46 seats and the MDP securing only 19 with other independents managing 4 seats so far.

The result is a major setback for the MDP which had termed the current elections as one of “do or die” situation.  What is worse, the MDP did not get the same proportion, in fact much less than the votes it had obtained both in the presidential and local council elections. 

The disappointment was in Male itself where the MDP just managed 7 out of 13 seats with the rest going to the PPM of the government. The Addu City continued to be the stronghold of the MDP, with the party getting 5 out of 7 seats.

Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon, daughter of Gayoom described the election result as one where the “Maldivians have said yes to President Yameen’s strong leadership.”  The Vice President said that the results showed that the people had faith in the government.  The PPM would now be able to give a religious twist to the results by claiming that they will be able to defend Islam more vigorously as claimed by the party earlier.

The theme- that Islam could only be defended  by the ruling party was made by Gayoom himself in one of his election meetings when he said that in the rule of MDP for three and a half years, he feared that Islam could disappear from the country.

In another instance in a direct message to Nasheed, President Yameen made the extraordinary claim that criticising the Supreme Court Judgements is similar to criticising the “tenets of Islam.”

What Nasheed will have to contend in future is that his opponents will not hesitate to use the Islamic card shamelessly where it suits them and he will continue to be shown as anti Islamic and that Islam will be in danger if ever he comes to power. 

One can understand the difficulties that will be faced by Nasheed in future too when opposition to all decisions- democratic or otherwise will be painted as “anti Islamic” and believed to be so by the common people.

Two issues come to my mind- first- there is no hope of judiciary being reformed any time in the near future.  The second will be the complete legitimisation of the February coup of 2012.

Ibrahim ‘Ibra’ Ismail who had a role in drafting the 2008 Constitution described the results as a “huge set back” for the democracy movement.  He added that with the tyranny of the judiciary combined with the tyranny of the majority, they will see the right to dissent, right to exercise people’s will, the right to live freely, curtailed.

Indeed the Supreme Court and not the Election commission should be congratulated for having conducting the elections without any major problem.  When a few of  the contending candidates did not sign the voters’ list as mandated by the Supreme Court, the Election Commission had to seek directions from the court for proceeding with the elections.

Hard days are ahead for the MDP and for Nasheed himself.  He needs to stay on course at least to prevent Maldives going back to “Gayoomism”- a reference to the dreaded three decades of authoritarian rule by former president Gayoom.