EC announces preliminary results of local council elections

The Elections Commission (EC) yesterday completed announcing preliminary results of the local council elections that took place on Saturday, January 18.

EC President Fuwad Thowfeek told the press that a second round of voting would be necessary in some races where the last placed candidates received the same number of votes.

“For example, for a five-member council, if the [candidates] in fifth place and sixth place are tied, in such cases we have to go to a second round,” Thowfeek explained.

He added that the EC would announce a date for the second round, though Thowfeek did not reveal the constituencies where a second round would be needed.

Official results are meanwhile expected by Friday. Election laws stipulate that official results must be announced within 14 days of the polls.

A total of 2,463 candidates contested in the January 18 elections for 1,100 seats – 951 island council seats, 132 atoll council seats, and 17 city council seats – in the country’s second local government elections under the landmark Decentralisation Act of 2010.

Minivan News’s analysis of the provisional results – subject to change – shows that the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) won 457 seats (41.5 percent) while the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) won 281 seats (25.5 percent).

The PPM’s coalition partners, the Jumhooree Party (JP) and the Maldives Development Alliance, took 125 seats (11.4 percent) and 59 seats (5.4 percent) respectively.

The Adhaalath Party secured 45 seats (4.1 percent) – including a majority in three councils – while the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) won one seat (0.1 percent) and independent candidates won 132 seats (12 percent).

The Adhaalath Party campaigned independently of the government coalition as the religious conservative party was not an official coalition partner. The party decided to back PPM candidate Abdulla Yameen in the second round of the presidential election last year without a formal coalition agreement.

Close race, PPM satisfied

The MDP’s 457 seat haul meanwhile includes 55 atoll council seats, 14 city council seats, and 388 island council seats.

The main opposition party retained a majority of the Malé and Addu City councils. The two cities account for 40 percent of the voting population.

The party also gained majority control of 79 councils (37.6 percent).

Parties representing the government coalition took a combined total of 465 seats, including 71 atoll council seats, three city council seats, and 391 island council seats.

The government coalition won a majority in 57 councils.

At a press conference hours after polls closed on January 18, former President Mohamed Nasheed said that the results portended a victory for the MDP in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Nasheed also threatened to impeach President Abdulla Yameen should the opposition party secure a majority of parliamentary seats.

“The Maldivian citizens still want an MDP government, and for Maldives to be ruled according to MDP’s philosophy. I would like to tell the Maldivian public, do not be disheartened. God willing, without much delay, we will take over the government,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Nasheed told reporters that the MDP suspected electoral fraud using fake national identity cards in the presidential election.

The former president’s remarks were condemned the following day by the PPM, with Deputy Leader Abdul Raheem Abdulla expressing confidence of the government coalition winning “a clear majority” of seats in the local council elections.

Raheem accused the MDP’s presidential candidate of attempting to incite unrest and turmoil.

Referring to Nasheed’s remarks conceding the presidential election on November 16, Abdul Raheem said a responsible opposition party would not seek to change the government.

Nasheed was narrowly defeated by PPM candidate Yameen in November’s controversial presidential election, winning 48.61 percent of the vote (105,181) to Yameen’s 51.39 percent (111,203) – a difference of just 6,022 votes.

President Yameen meanwhile told reporters last week that PPM members who contested as independents cost the government coalition a number of seats.

Yameen claimed that more than 85 percent of independent candidates were PPM members.

PPM members decided to contest as independent candidates in constituencies reserved for the coalition partner JP, Yameen explained, despite instructions from the party.

President Yameen noted that the three seats won by PPM candidates in the capital was an improvement on the February 2011 results, in which the then-opposition took two seats to the MDP’s nine.

Yameen further contended that the results of the council elections showed “huge support for our coalition”.

“So I am satisfied. [But] we could have put in a better effort,” he said.