Since 2008, our country has become even more divided. Politics in the Maldives seems to be pretty polarized with citizens and voters seeing things in very black and white terms, President Waheed’s Special Advisor, Dr Hassan Saeed writes for Haveeru.
Responsible government, and for that matter responsible opposition, should not seek to divide the country but try to gain the broadest support possible by building consensus.
But how do voters make up their minds about how they are going to vote? Do they study the manifestos or policy platforms of respective candidates and parties and then weighing all the options make their minds up in a calm and collected fashion? Are they offered distinct and competing visions of the road down which the Maldives might travel by political parties? How much genuine choice and difference is there in the offer from our politicians and political parties?
In 2008 it was relatively easy. The election was really only about whether voters wanted change or continuity. In 2013 political parties will have the opportunity to come of age and spell out to the voters what they really stand for and why their ideas and policies can take the country forward. At present many voters will cast their vote because of
• Habit – “I’ve always voted this way”,
• Family – ‘my family is..’
• Island loyalty- “this is an X political party island”
• Personal interest-“what are you going to do for me personally?”
• Personality-“I like X”
And the last one is the most dangerous because it can lead to a crude populism where big personalities attempt to outbid each other with unkeepable promises and voters compile ever more unachievable and unrealistic shopping lists. That’s how we end up in the financial mess that we are in now with a budget deficit of over US$300 million this year.