More than one in three Maldivians offered bribes or witnessed vote buying, IFES survey reveals

More than one in three Maldivians were offered bribes for their votes or witnessed vote buying in the March parliamentary polls, a landmark study by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) has revealed.

The ‘Money and Elections in the Maldives: Perceptions and Reality‘ report released today said vote buying in the Maldives has assumed “alarming proportions” and “if not addressed, it threatens to undermine the democratic process in the country.”

The survey gathered information from face-to-face interviews from across the Maldives and looked at prevalence of vote buying and fraud, and public perception on campaign finance.

Of the respondents who experienced or witnessed vote buying, 82 percent said they were offered cash. Of this, 53 percent said they were offered between MVR4,000 (US$262) and MVR20,000 (US$1,309) for their votes.

According to IFES, the figure for those who experienced vote buying is a conservative estimate as respondents to opinion surveys are generally reluctant to report unethical or illegal activity.

Ballot marking was the most common technique used to ensure that those offered money or gifts cast their ballot for the candidate or the party who offered them money or gifts (27 percent), the survey said.

A further eight percent were asked to swear an oath on the Qur’an while six percent were asked to turn over their identity papers.

More than a third of respondents believed fraud was committed during parliamentary polls.

Despite the alarming prevalence of vote buying, majority of Maldivians continue to have faith in the electoral process, with 8 out of 10 saying they believed voting gives them influence over decision-making in the country.

“Vote buying should be addressed before cynicism and apathy take root,” IFES said.

Campaign Finance

Nearly two thirds (66 percent) of Maldivians believed political parties and candidates spend most of their campaign funds on vote buying and gifts for voters, while 70 percent said they do not believe candidates are honest in reporting campaign spending.

When asked about key sources of campaign funding, most Maldivians believe political parties and candidates receive funds from party funds (40 percent), or that candidates are self funded (32 percent). Local businesses ranked third.

More significantly, nearly 4 out of 10 respondents said they did not know sources of funding, suggesting a significant lack of information regarding election campaign funding.

Despite the dismal picture, there is near unanimous support for campaign finance reform, specifically to combat vote buying, IFES said.

Approximately 90 percent said vote buying should remain illegal and 70 percent supported a cap on contributions by any one person.

Three quarters of respondents also said they would like to see campaign spending limits for political parties and candidates.

Hence, “Maldivian lawmakers have clear public support to introduce preventive measures to combat vote buying ahead of the next elections,” the report stated.

A clear majority, nearly 90 percent, do not believe government property, including vehicles and boats, should be allowed for campaigning or political purposes.

A majority also said candidates and political parties must not undertake charitable activities and community development activities such as building a playground or harbors, suggesting a majority recognised such activities can be utilised to generate support.

A slight majority also believed the hiring of local musicians during campaigns was inappropriate.

Survey findings indicated high levels of confidence in the Election Commission with 73 percent stating the commission performed well or very well.

Those who did not vote in the election identified re-registration and other logistical issues such as transportation as main reasons for not voting.

Nearly 4 out of 10 voters had to manually re-register before each election, the survey found. IFES has recommended legislative reform to ease the burden or re-registration and logistical difficulties for voters and the Election Commission

Of those who did not vote, 19 percent said there were no worthy candidates, while 16 percent said they had no interest and 7 percent said their vote does not matter.

Related to this story

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

EU elections observers recommend legislation to improve future polls

Majlis elections: Undue influence, bribery, and disilussionment led to losses, says MDP


8 thoughts on “More than one in three Maldivians offered bribes or witnessed vote buying, IFES survey reveals”

  1. “Vote buying should be addressed before cynicism and apathy take root,” IFES said.

    Too late.

  2. On the bright side, bribary is a form of redistribution of wealth. It may even be good if people just take the bribe.. but not sell their vote.. they can still vote as their noble conscience discates.

    It has to be noted that bribes are a part of democracy.
    Unless, a country is not advanced human development, democarcy is 'practiced' by the rich bying off the poor.


    Rich candidates (evern Mitt Romney for eg, ) was accused of bribing.. so think of the 'ordinary' countries..

  3. The amazing fact is that as a 100% Sunni muslim nation you have democratic elections at all. Islam and democracy are totally incompatible. This is borne out by the chaotic state of most Islamic countries in the world today.
    Your last presidential elections were a text book example of how not to conduct elections. I lost count of the number of cancellations and recounts.
    I wonder when your next elections will be held. 2044 perhaps?

  4. More than 1 in 2 are big time hypocrites, doing everything prohibited in religion.

    More than a third seriously doubts the religious claims about divinity. Hypocrisy takes over and emphatically claim 100% idiot-state.

  5. @ MissIndia New Delhi aka Agarwal The Thug pretending to be a woman LOL!

    The most chaotic and dirty country in the whole world is India. You worship cows and you treat some of your own people as worse than animals under your caste system.

    Your mental sickness as a result of your hatred for the Maldives is actually originating from your frustration. A frustration born from the fact that how ever much you may bark, your venom has no effect on the people of this country.

    The only good thing from your barking is that more and more Maldivians will hate Indians 🙂

  6. The madrasa graduates are out in force.
    Why are you guys not in Syria? or Gaza? or Yemen? or Libya? or Egypt?
    Just restrict you travels to countries that share your toxic beliefs. No need to come to India and pollute the minds of secular Hindus.
    Done anything exciting lately? Like chopping down some palm trees?


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