Comment: Why some people like DRP and hate the MDP

My first assignment at university, back in 1997, asked me to look into why people voted the way they do.

I remember feeling quite ill-prepared to answer this question because I had never experienced voting in its true democratic form. After all I grew up in the Maldives.

However, I came to realise that it boils down to a combination of personal characteristics, particular circumstances and the choice of leaders, as well as the image of these leaders put across to the public.

In 2008, faced with a choice between the DRP and the MDP, it is not difficult to see who someone such as I would pick.

I am (relatively) young, and as such I am prone to taking risks. I feel comfortable with a changing world. I have a tertiary education from a western institution. I am starting off in life, have no family who relies on me to provide for them, have no business that I have poured my heart and soul into, and feel confident that I have the skills to make it in life. My philosophy to change is summed up by the other iconic saying of our time: “Yes we can!”.

You don’t have to be Don Draper to realize which product I’m buying.

But what continues to fascinate me is the support that the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party still holds among the people. It also fascinates me just how much hatred some people have for the MDP.

I refuse to believe that these people are all crazy. After all, some of these people are intelligent, educated and perfectly reasonable people.

So let me try and outline some categories of people who may find it ‘logical’ to support DRP and what you may feel if you belonged to any of these categories:

  • Direct beneficiary of DRP in power:

You are someone (or are a family member of someone) who was a direct recipient of benefits under the DRP.

This does not mean that these benefits were through corruption – but just run-of-the-mill influence or power that came to you because you believed in the vision and message of the party and supported it since its inception. And let’s face it, this is the same reason why a generation of people who are in places of influence because of the MDP now may support MDP in the future.

  • Democracy ain’t so hot after all:

You simply prefer the harmony that existed when democracy was not around. You are not necessarily taken in by all this talk of democracy and human rights because it has meant the disintegration of the social harmony and fabric that existed under Gayyoom. Now, every other day, there are demonstrations, strikes, and some kind of nuisance on the street.

These days people are just so angry at each other. Families, friendships, sports-clubs, marriages, relationships have all been affected quite adversely by the rise of democracy in the country.

I mean things were just so much better when people didn’t talk politics and talked about the movies or joked about their families or something equally harmless. Life was hard enough without all these politics on the street.

Worse of all, democracy has not delivered the instant benefits that it promised. You just want things back the way they were, and to go on with your life leaving the government to do what it did, even if it was doing it badly.

However, now that democracy (in all its messiness) is around, who do you blame for this? Why, the people who started doing these demonstration on the streets after all – the MDP.

After all, if it wasn’t for the MDP we wouldn’t have protests on the street. We would have a serene parliament that never debates. In fact we wouldn’t have parliament at all, especially on our TV screens. We would have songs and movies and entertainment, interrupted occasionally by a ‘riddle’ we can answer by SMS.

  • MDP are incompetent:

You do not believe the capabilities of the existing government are sufficient for leadership. You question the leadership ability of President Nasheed and his team. You regard them as those, who even with good intentions, simply do not have the intellectual firepower to pull all this off.

Your worst have suspicions come true because the MDP have rewarded positions of power to cronies and activists. For every qualified person in the administration, you see two hacks who had more talent at throwing stones than conducting policy. You secretly feel that the leader of our country and the majority of his cabinet should at least have a PhD, but may not quite say this out loud for the sake of being accused of elitism.

  • MDP are liars selling false hope for the sake of power:

You think that the MDP are peddlers of populist dreams who have promised things that they (or anyone without divine help) cannot actually deliver, simply for the sake of coming to power.

Inter-island transport network? This has never been done in the Maldives so why should it work now?

A modern real-estate market in the outer islands of the Maldives? These seem like wishful thinking to many people – even to reasonable people.

A carbon-neutral Maldives when 100% of our existing power-plants are diesel?

US$1 billion in aid in 2010? That’s seem like a little too much – especially if you fall into the category above.

  • The MDP leadership is dictatorial and undemocratic themselves:

Deep down you are a democrat at heart and feel strongly about the ideals of representative government. You feel that President Nasheed is pushing things in the wrong direction and acting in direct conflict with the constitution of the country.

This is a completely reasonable opinion to have, but you cannot also hold this and support DRP. That would be a tad bit hypocritical and downright silly. This however is completely justifiable if you are an ‘independent’ follower of democracy in its true forms espoused by the great political philosophers of time.

  • The MDP philosophy is wrong:

You oppose the center-right philosophy of the government. Rather than a free-market state that makes you responsible for your own well-being, you feel (deep-down) that the government should take care of its people – it should provide jobs in a protected public sector so that everyone has a decent guaranteed salary. You don’t care, nor do you want to care, about how the state gets its money. It should just provide us with healthcare, schooling, housing, jobs, TVs… the whole shebang if possible.

If probed a little deeper, you would say that the economic vision of the country should be that the tourism sector of the economy – just like the oil and gas sector is in Saudi Arabia – and the state should play the role in distributing the benefits of that tourism sector to the public.

Our tourism market has functioned well enough even with a few people getting very rich – and the ‘benefits’ this country has seen in the last 30 years are because of this economic model. Sure you would like change, but that change should be gradual and planned – like on a roadmap. Evolution, not revolution, is what you would have preferred.

In a sense, it is the strangely soothing tale of the state playing a truly paternalistic role in its most literal sense – acting like a benevolent father.

He/it rewards those who accept his/its wisdom and vision, while punishing those who misbehave and question its/his authority.

While this is old-fashioned, we must admit that like all fathers, there is a genuine appeal in having someone to look over us. This I believe is the reason why (in some mass pseudo-oedipal complex) the support of DRP is stronger among women of a certain generation.

My point in conducting this analysis is primarily to take the level of discussion in our political sphere to a more intelligent and hopefully beneficial level.

Firstly, I hope it gives those on the yellow-side (MDP) of the political divide something to think about on how to successfully challenge those who oppose them. No doubt, those in the first category cannot really be converted because they are the unwinnable masses, but the concerns of those in the other categories can and should be addressed.

The MDP must show these people that they are capable, that their ideology of self-help center-right compassionate economic conservatism (borrowed from their friends at the ‘New’ UK Conservative party) is a winning philosophy. They must turn their dreams into a reality.

However, for those on the blue-side (opposition and DRP side) of the divide, I hope it gives you a moment of reflection to see quite why it is that you hate the MDP so. If you fall into the first category – perhaps its time you looked into ways in which you fashion your life around having a beneficial outcome irrespective of whoever is in power.

However, for those of you who fall into the other categories – I hope it sheds light on quite why you hate the MDP so, and ask yourself how you can help your party (the DRP) to outline a better vision for our country.

The MDP claim they are center-right – so what is the philosophy of the DRP? Surely it cannot be that of a paternalistic state, which is outdated and unsustainable.

I say this because before you know it, we will once again be asked to choose our leaders. And when you do, I hope you will at least take a minute to ask yourself why it is that you are inclined to vote in a certain way. You will do this country a world of good by that small act.

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12 thoughts on “Comment: Why some people like DRP and hate the MDP”

  1. i vote mdp coz Maumoon is a thief and a torturer and only a few cronies got rich.

  2. After reading this I am saddened that someone who had a tertiary level education would hold some of the views expressed through out this article...

  3. How can Minivan publish this kind of junk on why someone loves X and hates Y.

    Since when did this become a gossip paper.

  4. Fallacies in these Categories:

    Direct Beneficiary:
    - This does include corrupt practices. Loans, grants being given both in incredibly large amounts as well as well as small amounts is corruption. Customs violations is a matter of fact with most business practices, and this directly hurts the people. Patronage is entrenched in our society because of the Practices which have been advocated by the previous administration. This is in direct contradiction to democratic Principles.

    Democracy Ain’t So Hot After All:
    - People aren’t taken in by “this talk of democracy and human rights” because 30 years has conditioned us to ignore it. In school we are forbidden from questioning authority, and the initiative is stripped from us. As a people we suffer for this every day. We don’t have a democracy yet, but if we start turning away from it, all hope is lost for us.
    - Human rights are important. In 1992, my uncles were all arrested and we were forced to leave the country – but you know what they did before we left? My uncles had their hands bound together to their feet and left like some trussed up cattle. They were left like that for weeks on end being forced to defecate and urinate where they lay. They were beaten and tortured. This is what happens when you turn your back on democracy. This is what people strove to stop.

    MPD are Incompetent:
    - This is not just an MDP government. It is a coalition government. Every minister has significant capability. And speaking for GIP (Gaumee Itthihaad Party), everyone of our people at lower levels as well are capable and qualified.

    MDP are liars, etc..:
    - You think because something has never been done before we shouldn’t try to achieve it? No one has tried to stop torture before. No one has tried to stop drug abuse before. No one has tried to stop child abuse and domestic violence before. Is this justification to back off?!

    This comment is already too long, but let me say this. This article is spreading ignorance and contributing the regression of our country. You attack democracy and democratic principles with every paragraph. Implying that its okay to “not care” about where the government gets its money!?! Of course we should care. Otherwise it’ll be stolen and kept in foreign bank accounts. The government will be left even more bankrupt, like how it was when we took over government. Of course people should care. This is a pathetic attempt to look at two sides of the situation. And keep in mind I’m neither on the blue or yellow side of your imaginary divide – but such an advocation of ignorance is unacceptable.

  5. A very good article. More of this will sure help to develop our political thinking. Especially, a lot of DRP members do not seem to realize (at least publicly acknowledge) that the Maldivian political landscape has fundamentally changed over the last few years. They seem to assume that only the president has changed. I hope DRP will also mature and learn to properly function as a political party and not as a cult.

  6. y do you all have to sprout nonsense ... dont you all know that fighting amoung our selves isnt going to help but only lead to destruction which i belive is where we are headed now ...

    compromise and lets try to go forward shall we .. we as humans will have difference of opinions..understandable.. put national interest first and lets take our country in to modern wonders shall we.. ehenun vaani hus vagun naa ..haraam koAru meehunaa ..amilla edumun furigen adhi thimaayah thimaa fenifa thibe meehun viyaa political spectrum ga ginavegen miulheni..

    Maldivians need to grow up .. stop behaving like kids.. start using ur logic rather than getting influenced by the corrupt individuals with agenda's .. we all know and can see who is to blame for all this troubles.. IT IS WE THE PEOPLE AND THE PREVIOUS LEADERS WHO ARE RESPONSIBLE..






  7. Dear commentators
    Many thanks for your comments but I think you have slightly misunderstood what I was trying to state here.

    Each of these are categories into which people who hate the MDP belong to. As is stated very clearly at the start, I am a supporter of this government.

    However what this article simply states is that IF you hate the MDP, then these are 'logical' reasons to hate them. By logical I mean from the basis of philosophical logic and consistency. Not that I agree with them!


    Z. Ahmed

  8. Interesting article. Hope it generates some deep thought in all quarters in addition to the knee jerk reaction it seems to have generated.

    You missed one point about why many people have been disillusioned though - the fact that the 'Wathan Edhey' coalition that was sold to the people became 'MDP Alliance' within a few months. This is in some ways related to the points about being dictatorial and incompetent, although the concept of incompetence is not necessarily related to elitism. On the dictatorial aspect, it is true that one cannot choose DRP over MDP. In any case, there are other options, although limited, for those allergic to both the MDP and the DRP.


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