Dismissed Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) councillor for Haa Alif Filladhoo, Adam Inaz, regained his seat on a ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) ticket in Saturday’s by-election.
Inaz was dismissed from his post after being expelled from the DRP for voting against the party line in a no-confidence motion against DRP councillor Mohamed Vijan, chair of the Filladhoo island council.
An opposition-sponsored second amendment to the Decentralisation Act passed in December 2010 stipulates that councillors elected on a party ticket must remain a member of the party or be stripped of the seat.
According to provisional results announced by the Elections Commission (EC) last night, Inaz received 331 votes (55.7 percent) to DRP candidate Mohamed Jameel’s 263 votes (44.3 percent). Of 674 eligible voters, 598 cast their ballots.
Saturday’s win secures a majority of the five-member council to the ruling party, which also won by-elections last week for two Shaviyani Milandhoo constituency atoll council seats and one Alif Alif Mathiveri island council seat.
On November 19, MDP won by-elections for a Faafu Bilehdhoo atoll council seat and Alif Alif Himandhoo island council seat while a Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) member won the mid-Fuvahmulah atoll council seat.
MDP meanwhile celebrated the victory last night with short-eats and the traditional rice pudding at its Haruge headquarters, where President Mohamed Nasheed attended and addressed supporters.
Elections in a democratic system reveal the extent of public approval of the government and its policies, Nasheed said.
In the first multi-party elections of the past four years, Nasheed noted, MDP’s share of the vote in Filladhoo rose from 20 percent in the first round of the presidential election of October 2008 to 46 percent in the local council elections of February 2011.
The MDP candidate for the Kelaa constituency which includes Filladhoo lost by 20 votes in the 2009 parliamentary elections, he continued, of which MDP won 31 percent of the popular vote.
Nasheed went on to lay out the MDP’s election returns in detail: 44,293 votes in the first round in 2008 (25 percent); 51,176 votes in 2009 (31 percent); and 61,661 in 2011 (44 percent).
“In my view, we now have a comfortable majority, a very good majority in a democracy -that is we are now [governing] with the consent of above 55 percent to our party, our government and our policies,” he claimed.
President Nasheed also referred to a protest by a group of Filladhoo islanders during his visit on December 24.
The protest leader addressed the President’s delegation with a megaphone “from the time we arrived till we went to the office,” Nasheed recounted, adding that he was “very pleased after seeing that as it’s been a while since I’ve seen a megaphone.”
While the incident was reported in local media, Nasheed argued that that “the people’s decision” was not “based on news headlines”.
“Two TV stations and two or three newspapers are constantly, relentlessly, criticising the government,” he said. “And sometimes the criticism goes beyond bounds.”
However, he contended, “the receptiveness of the message” on opposition-aligned media is diminished due to glaring contradictions “between what you can see for yourself and what you hear on TV.”