Majlis elections: “Money politics threatens to hijack democratic process”, says Transparency Maldives

Yesterday’s parliamentary elections were well-administered and transparent “but wider issues of money politics threatens to hijack [the] democratic process,” NGO Transparency Maldives (TM) has said in its preliminary statement on the Majlis polls.

TM revealed that a survey conducted prior to last year’s presidential election showed that 15 percent of respondents had been offered “money or other incentives” in exchange for their vote.

“Admissions about illegal activities such as this are usually underreported in surveys. TM’s long-term observation indicates that vote buying may be even more widespread in the parliamentary elections than other elections,” the statement read.

“Inability of state institutions to prosecute vote buying due to gaps in the electoral legal framework, lack of coordination, and buck-passing between the relevant institutions have allowed rampant vote buying to go unchecked.”

The NGO recommended that vote buying should be monitored, investigated and prosecuted “through implementation of the existing legal provisions” in addition to parliament considering “urgent reforms to the laws to better address the issue.”

While voting was ongoing yesterday, police arrested an individual near a polling station for allegedly distributing cash.

Police also revealed two days before the polls that it was increasingly receiving reports of vote buying.

Cash and gifts were allegedly being handed out on behalf of candidates for parliament, police said.

Meanwhile, speaking at a press conference today, Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb – deputy leader of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives – categorically denied allegations that candidates representing the Progressive Coalition bought votes.

Coalition supporters have submitted complaints “with photo and video as proof” to the Elections Commission (EC) about the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party distributing cash for votes, Adeeb alleged.

Campaign finance reform

TM also noted a lack of transparency in political and campaign financing ahead of elections, which was exacerbated by “deep flaws in the standards, practices and poor oversight”.

“When political parties and individual candidates do not fully disclose where they get their money from, it is not clear who funds them, what their potential conflict of interests are, and, thereby allows vested interests to override public interest when elected as MPs,” TM observed.

It added that Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer surveys for the Maldives “continue to indicate a crisis of public trust in the parliament.”

“Increasing campaign financing transparency in parliamentary elections is crucial to hold parliamentarians to account, in order to prevent the hijack of the institution by vested interests and regain public trust in the parliament,” the statement read.

In addition to identifying and addressing “the gaps in the electoral legal framework,” the NGO recommended “implementation of existing provisions to facilitate public scrutiny, ensure periodic reporting and an effective oversight mechanism for political finance.”

Among other issues that the NGO highlighted included the abuse of state resources “by successive regimes,” which allows campaigning on public funds, and lack of effective longterm voter and civic education.

TM also noted “uncertainties arising from the role of the judiciary in elections,” suggesting that the 16-point guideline imposed on the EC by the Supreme Court last year did not “improve upon the technical aspects of the election”.


TM observed that yesterday’s polls were peaceful, transparent and generally well-administered “with just one reported incident of violence inside a polling station.”

Among the NGO’s key findings from its observation of the voting process, TM noted that 83.52 percent of polling stations closed within the first hour of the normal closing time of 4:00pm and that the eligible voter registry was “overall very clean, with a very few cases where people were not able to vote because their names were not on the voter registry or their details did not match.”

Candidates from the opposition MDP were represented at 89.4 percent of polling stations and coalition parties at 88.8 percent, the statement noted.

“Unresolved disputes were reported at only 5.3 percent ballot boxes at the time of announcing results,” it added.

TM noted that voting was temporarily halted in 2.4 percent of polling stations, of which 75 percent were “interventions at the direction of the Presiding Officer while 25 percent were interventions by an unruly voter.”

“We note that the police entered 12.35 percent of polling stations. However, in 100 percent of such cases, interventions occurred at the invitation of the Presiding Officer as the rules allow.”

Meanwhile, according to the EC, a total of 115 complaints were submitted in writing to the national complaints bureau, including 18 concerning the voter registry and 33 complaints regarding negative campaigning, behaviour of election officials, and campaigning during polling hours.

In addition, 59 complaints were made via telephone, EC member Ali Mohamed Manik revealed at a press conference last night.

Manik explained that the complaints would be addressed before preliminary results are announced today.


8 thoughts on “Majlis elections: “Money politics threatens to hijack democratic process”, says Transparency Maldives”

  1. money and vote buying is done by all parties. that is inevitable. it would be nice if TI or even NATO can stop it.

    so whats its best to settle with the least worst - a majority for some one. its better than another 5 years of bickering and gridlock.

    its eveident that Maldives voters are not dumb.

  2. When Nasheed bought large number of MP in the open market, and when Nasheed spent millions in the presidential election in 2013, when Nasheed openly aid that he will use all Governmnet resources to do parliament campaign in 2009 , transparency Maldives was sleeping.

    They have not even bothered to raise thier eyebrow even.

    So we don't care what this association says and we know they are puppets of Nasheed and they will issue statements as per Nasheed instruction.

    Transpanecy need to learn that no one can dictate us what we want we have very right to do what we want .

    In a democracy majority rules lean to digest this.

  3. More than the bribes and incentives, the historical fact that a loosing presidential candidate hijacked a supreme court to influence an election and then the very man who was supposed to fight against it accepted the outcome of a coerced election outcome; ; "is" ; the very reason why Maldivians today are not voting for President Nasheed!

    By Nasheed accepting, he put in place the old autocracy through his own version of democratic vote. Non of his supporters and even his opposition supporters can wholeheartedly believe 2013 was a fair election process. When this is fact, Nasheed still dragged the patience and hope of his silent and vocal supporters and today, that hope and patience has expired. Thus killing the true voice of the people, and killing democracy in its infancy.

    History will mark President Nasheed misguided clumsy bug that got squashed half way through his presidency. And it shameful to think that not long ago, there were over 105,000 people united behind one single party and banner. But Nasheed chose to play super Gandhi-jee leading to his fall from grace!

    Good riddance and i wish him well as a historian and writer of political stories in time to come. Please hand over the banner of MDP to a more ruthless and cruel regime that can actually reciprocate in kind to the actions of this government.

  4. How can i guy who had robbed this country in just three years can be even consider as Gandhi jee ?

    The country debt when he took office was 350 million and when he left the office after 3 years the debt had done up 1 billion ?

    Does this tell anything ? Of course he had robbed this country and he got millions from GMR, EC building which he built in Addu ? Thilafushi project just name few where he had robbed.

  5. Hero do you know y your comments arnent arising much concerns from other commenters,because you don't belong here,but rather you belong on the commentary board of just got promoted from there.we are simply bored with your three step sisters GMR,EC and thilafushi.I think you should visit grand mullah incest lover Imran for a new story or better if you can climb on to boafan abulhos bed

  6. @Mahir: I admit that Nasheed is a peacenik; one of his flaws that I vehemently disagree with. In fact, it was his own reluctance to have Maldivians executed that allowed the regime to come back today.

  7. The problem maumoon, is that many people actually believe those stories. On contrary of what "half baked" says, the vast majority of the voters, not only in the maldives, are dumb. This election can serve as proof.

    Elections are won based on emotions and selfish interests. The regime has played that card and MDP's reaction was way too weak. The whole nonsense about protecting islam could have been avoided easily by bringing up the track record concerning religious matters much earlier, they could have used people with some religious status to vouch for them, launching the ball back to the 30 years of dictatorship where islam actually was threatened.

    MPD reaction was too slow and insignificant, they let people who make no sense get to the more ignorant part of the population and once convinced, it's hard to turn the tide.

    We can only hope MDP will learn from it's mistakes and will come up with a much deeper tactical approach in a few years time.


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