Nasheed proposes constitution change to parliamentary system

The Maldives constitution may have to be amended to address issues arising from the dissolution of the ruling Progressive Coalition, opposition leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed told diplomats in Colombo.

The split between Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and the Jumhooree Party (JP) has resulted in a government lacking popular support and will ultimately harm the Maldivian public, he said.

Nasheed called for amending the system of governance from a presidential system to a parliamentary system. He has long argued coalitions could only work in a parliamentary system of government.

The PPM last week announced the dissolution of the ruling coalition after the two parties clashed over control of the speakership in the newly elected People’s Majlis. The vote saw a win for PPM’s Abdulla Maseeh against the JP’s Gasim Ibrahim.

Gasim had won 23.35 percent of the vote in the first round of presidential polls last year, and his backing was crucial for the PPM’s win in the second round. The PPM had gained 29.72 percent of the vote in the first round and narrowly won the election against Nasheed with 51.39 percent.

Nasheed himself required the backing of the JP and a number of smaller parties to win the presidential election of 2008. The coalition led by Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) also fell apart shortly after Nasheed assumed power.

Speaking to private broadcaster Raajje TV last week, Nasheed said he would work through the newly elected parliament to amend the constitution and facilitate a transition to a parliamentary system.

The challenges faced in implementing the system of governance dictated by the constitution indicates that the Maldives needs a parliamentary system, Nasheed said.

He said he is ready to work with leader of the PPM and former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom as well as Gasim to change the constitution.

“It is time for the system of governance in Maldives to be changed into a parliamentary system. When we move to a parliamentary system there won’t be any need to have a cabinet,” said Nasheed.

“The cabinet is very costly, we can cut down that as well [by moving to a parliamentary system]. What I want to say to President Maumoon is to think about how the Maldives have been governed in the past and what happened during the drafting of the constitution,” he was quoted as saying.

Nasheed had raised the same issue during his presidency in July 2010, again citing difficulties in governance. At the time, Nasheed’s MDP controlled a minority in parliament while the then-opposition opposed and blocked several flagship laws.

In response, Nasheed proposed to amend the constitution to either “complete the presidential system” or move to a parliamentary system. He had declared he was ready to go for a re-election following the change if all political parties could reach an agreement on the issue.

Speaking to Minivan News in February, Nasheed said: “Coalitions work in parliamentary systems where you can actually have ministers coming out from the parliament and therefore it’s possible to come to an arrangement. But when the cabinet is not in the parliament, an alliance doesn’t necessarily work.”

“The shuffling or the portions given to different parties are given from the cabinet, and the cabinet is a very superficial layer on the government. The actual essence is the parliament where you make the laws.”

But, Ibrahim ‘Ibra’ Ismail, who was the chairman of the committee responsible for drafting the 2008 Constitution, spoke against the change today, saying the public had already voted for the presidential system in a 2007 referendum and that any change must come through public consultation rather than an agreement between political parties.

“We were unable to reach an agreement on that in 2007, so it was decided that we should go for a public referendum, to let the people decide,” Ibra said.

“The people decided on this matter directly, so I don’t think representatives can change it back. Even if they do it they should consult the public, there should be a public discussion. I don’t think changing in any other way is beneficial for the nation,” he added.

Approximately 62 percent of the public backed the presidential form of governance in 2007. At the time both the MDP and incumbent President Abdulla Yameen’s former party, the Progressive Alliance (now dissolved), supported the parliamentary system while Gayoom supported a presidential system.

While in Colombo, Nasheed met the US ambassador to the Maldives Michele J. Sison, British High Commissioner to the Maldives John Rankin, Australian High Commissioner to the Maldives Robyn Mudie and the French Ambassador to the Maldives Jean-Paul Monchau.

In addition to this he also met International Finance Corporation country manager to the Maldives Adam Sack.


11 thoughts on “Nasheed proposes constitution change to parliamentary system”

  1. Change the system again?
    Citizens have voted for a presidential system already in 2006-2007

    First it was lack of democracy. Now it appears that the fault is in the system of Governance.
    Say if Nasheed fails to come to power, you can guess the next step wd be to return back to pre 60s Monarchy

    Please STOP tinkering with the system. Besides not everyone dreams of a Westminister

  2. Mordisians need to be left alone, from political wars. Where the so-called justice-balances get shifted by thousands for a few dollars in bribery.

    In truth, the majority of Mordisians are not educated enough to constructively contribute to the development of the nation,

    Priority is they need to be educated to open up their minds. The world does not revolve around the cocoon religions. They need to understand that fact. It's the politicians who, out of necessity to manage the public, push the agenda.

    Educate, educate, educate Mordisians. Not in madrarssas, but in science, medicine, engineering, teaching, etc. Fields that could make them contribute something to the nation, to the humanity, to the world.

    Not the holy mumbo jumbo of the likes of you-know-who! The sole reason for which is to stump intellect and thus avoid having public focus on political failures.

  3. Why is this news, you ask? It's news because, we now have a party that only represent the wishes of 25% of the people ruling over them.

    That certainly isn't democracy. You could argue that was the case when Nasheed was in power under MDP after that coalition ran aground as well.

    So, Nasheed is speaking about the reality of the situation. Neither in 2008, nor now, do we have a government that actually represents the people. This is a serious matter.

    Parliamentary is not a panacea to all our ills, but it's certainly better than what we have now. If, PPM and JP were a coalition under a parliamentary system, and that coalition fell apart, then that would trigger fresh elections! It doesn't allow a minority party to rule the country. Big difference.

  4. Further, under the current system, it's very easy to manipulate people like Gasim into forming a coalition and then dumping them straight after getting warm in the seat of power, as PPM has just done!

    Under a parliamentary system, that simply cannot happen!

  5. @Bring back monarchy

    Because we are now ruled by the Coalition of the Hated, a minority that rules over a majority.

  6. Would Abu Jahul have said that the Meccans who went to Abyssinia to seek asylum against religious persecution in Mecca would be assured of prosecution on their return? Yes, he would have, wouldn't he? So what does that make this government?

  7. Guy is talking the most sense out of all Maldivian political analyses of late. Nasheed is 100% right but the chaos of presidentialism favours the tycoons and Maumoons. How Supreme.

  8. To be honest PPM has more legitimacy to be in power now than MDP did. MDP's coalition got unstuck within months and MDP never had a Parliamentary majority either. At least the current PPM coalition does have a simple majority in Majlis so they do have some legitimacy to rule even though we don't like it.

  9. Nasheed is wrong about this one. Parliamentary system would be even more easier to manipulate so that's the last thing Maldives needs

    Nasheed should look up the word 'Consensus Politics' from Wikipedia and learn more about it


Comments are closed.