Senior figures of the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) including former President Mohamed Nasheed have said that sharing cabinet positions among different political parties will not result in an efficient government in the Maldives.
The party’s stand on coalitions come at a time where President Mohamed Waheed’s Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP) and other smaller political parties have claimed that the September 7 elections can only be won through a broad coalition of political parties.
Last week, President Waheed announced plans to form a coalition between his party and the religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP), ahead of the presidential elections.
Meanwhile President Waheed’s Special Advisor Dr Hassan Saeed’s Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) has also announced its plans to join Waheed’s GIP and back for the president’s re-election.
The three parties are among the eight political parties currently comprising of an informal coalition backing President Waheed’s government, following his controversial ascension to power on February 7, 2012 after the sudden resignation of President Nasheed.
Coalitions result in weak governments: Nasheed
Speaking during a party gathering of his own party MDP on Tuesday evening, President Nasheed stated that leaders of political parties had learned “bitter lessons” surrounding the inability to run a government by sharing cabinet positions among different political parties over the last four years.
“A cabinet in which one minister belongs to this party and another belongs to that party, cannot run a government,” he said.
Nasheed said he could not understand the relationship between national development and political coalition, reflecting on the coalition of parties currently involved with President Waheed, which he described as not a real cabinet but rather a mixture of individuals with different political ideologies.
Highlighting the developments that took place his post-resignation, the former President said the UN had urged his party MDP to join the government of President Waheed, but the MDP refused to the offer because it did not see how development could be brought to the country at a table with people who lacked commitment in coming to common terms.
“I want the people of this country to remember that, when there is word of coalition, it means of forming a weak government,” said the former president.
Nasheed defeated former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom in the second round of the 2008 election under the “Wathan Edhey Gothah” coalition. The MDP steadily shed its coalition partners during its term in office, falling out with the DQP, business tycoon Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party (JP), the Adhaalath Party and President Waheed’s GIP.
The Wathan Edhey Gothah Alliance was short lived and almost all parties left the government within the first two years. Gasim Ibrahim left the government within 21 days while the DQP left within the first four months.
Speaking during the rally, Nasheed said it was an uphill task to run a stable government with political parties of different views, and stressed that political stability was pivotal for development and attracting foreign investment.
Common political ideology not political positions
Chairperson of the MDP MP Moosa ‘Reeko’ Manik echoed similar sentiments claiming that the MDP could not work with political parties which demanded political positions first hand.
However, Moosa said the MDP would welcome colleagues who had sincerity and commitment to an MDP-led government’s policies.
“There is no place in the MDP for those who come to us and demand a package of four cabinet positions, 12 judges, three warehouses and the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA). But it doesn’t mean all doors are closed for those parties interested in working under a common political ideology,” Manik said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Parliamentary Group Leader of MDP, MP Ali Waheed, argued that coalitions would not work in presidential systems such as in the Maldives.
“We don’t need to divide government portfolios among political parties. Even MDP should not do that by saying that it is an MDP alliance. That is not how we can run the country. Youth Minister from a different sect, the Finance Minister in a different sect, the Islamic Minister in a different sect and the Economic Minister keeps his eyes closed. Is that a cabinet? You cannot call that a cabinet,” said Ali Waheed.
Ali Waheed argued that cabinet ministers should hold common views with the President in charge, and should follow the president’s plans and policies.
Elect one political ideology, not a mixture
Speaking to Minivan News, MDP spokesperson MP Imthiyaz ‘Inthi’ Fahmy said coalitions do not work in a proper presidential system and that it would be better for the country to have a single political party with a single political ideology to govern the country rather than a group of parties with different views on issues.
He also contended that sometimes a coalition may limit proper representation of people where a smaller political party is given larger political portfolios in the government.
“For example with this government, the Adhaalath Party does not have even a single seat in parliament nor does it control any local council. But they are given several cabinet portfolios, so it is not actually representing the people,” he said.
Fahmy contended that if the country was to see fast development and a stable economy it needed to adopt a stable government.
“If people are electing a government, they should vote for a single ideology. Especially in presidential systems it does not work like that because the government is not formed from the parliament,” he added.
Meanwhile speaking to Minivan News previously, Deputy Parliamentary Group Leader of government aligned Dhivehi Rayythunge Party (DRP) MP Abdulla Mausoom said the word coalition was “not very meaningful in the Maldives”.
Mausoom at the time suggested that legislation would be required to enforce coalition arrangements before they could become a serious feature of Maldivian politics. DRP had previously argued that the current alliance of political parties in support of President Waheed as a national-unity government rather than a coalition.