Political ‘speed dating’ draws young voters

Former President Mohamed Nasheed has held a one minute ‘speed dating’ event for 200 young Maldivians aged 18-25 at Seahouse Cafe.

Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) booked out Seahouse from 9:30 pm to 10:30 pm on Friday night and prepared 200 ‘date’ tokens. The tokens ran out early in the evening however, while questions ran until 11:30 pm.

“The purpose was for first-time voters to meet directly with President Nasheed and to give them a chance to ask any questions that they wanted,” said MDP Youth Wing Leader Shauna Aminath. She added that the many new faces may indicate a boost in voter turnout this Saturday.

Shauna noted  that post-event comments over Twitter, Facebook and other media indicated a demand for a second session.

“I have always wanted to meet President Nasheed  personally and even a minute with him is quite a lot out of his busy schedule,” 24 year-old attendee Isha told Minivan News. “I was very impressed by the event and the fact of getting to speak directly with him was a chance I wouldn’t miss.”

“I wanted to take a selfie with [President Nasheed] because he is one of my greatest idols, and I wanted to show my support. I think he is the best candidate,” said Hassan Sharm, 24.

Nasheed was both a listener and a speaker during the event, fielding questions on higher education, particularly A-level intakes and scholarships, the economy, exclusivity of surf breaks and the MDP manifesto. He also asked about issues important to his young supporters.

“The minute was more about him hearing us,” Isha recalled. “He asked what we did for work. Then we brought up some of the problems we face – slow internet and expensive broadband, and unfortunately he couldn’t comment on it since one minute was over and he had to move to the other table. But I hope he heard us.”

Isha added that Nasheed’s “positive attitude” and attentive ear established him as “one of the most friendly persons I have met in my life.”

Sharm questioned Nasheed on a central issue in post-election projections. Citing the heavy involvement of public security forces and senior political figures in February 2012 transfer of power, “I asked, ‘If you are elected, what is your plan to bring these people to justice?”

Sharm said Nasheed in his reply emphasised that revenge was not part of the equation, and that the focus should be on rendering justice to the injured civilians.

Sharm told the former President that housing was a major concern for young people, as well as a lack of space for community programs.

President Nasheed is known for his unique campaign tactics and strong interest in his youth base; he took the mic at a techno music concert the previous evening. Meanwhile, candidates from the competing Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM), Gaumee Ihthihaadh Party (GIP) coalition, and Dhivehi Quamee Party (DQP) have thus far exercised comparatively formal and traditional campaign methods.

Asked whether they would welcome a similar Q&A with the other candidates, Isha and Sharm indicated that the dialogue was mostly about showing support.

“I do not support any of them, would be very hypocritical of me to go,” Isha reasoned.

Sharm declared simply, “No, no, never. Not a chance.”

Aminath pointed out that a critical factor in bringing young people to the table is establishing a sense of ease between the candidate and voter. “Engagement has to be inspired by leaders. [Voters] are inspired by President Nasheed,” she said.

Asked about the competing candidates, attendees Isha and Sharm indicated both concerns and confusion over the other parties policies.

Isha was curious to know whether the others were “intimidated by Nasheed”, while Sharm said he would ask PPM candidate Abdulla Yameen about allegations of PPM’s involvement with Male’s gangs, President Mohamed Waheed about his involvement in the February 7, 2012 controversial transfer of power, and the JP’s Gasim Ibrahim about his plans for national improvement, citing general confusion over what Gasim’s communications on policy and platform to date.

“I would love to know what his plan is,” Sharm explained.


11 thoughts on “Political ‘speed dating’ draws young voters”

  1. Ofcourse he will get the young voters on his side, because they all like to party, drink, use drugs, hip-hop and techno.
    And that is exactly what he likes and is himself

  2. We must first change the mindsets of the youth of today that being able to do what you want to do doesn't guarantee happiness and contentment. It's important to hone young minds to help them prepare for the challenges ahead of them and to help them become disciplined and responsible individuals. Instilling values and ethics is far more important than entertaining them. When all is gone, what will be left is your character. "What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world but lose his soul?"

  3. lol! Young people living in the Maldives assume that their futures would be bright, but this is far from reality. Can the presidential candidates prevent this? Not really, since nobody would really be able to change the economic condition of the country.

  4. All the youth, who like to drinks and party will vote for this idiot and those who responsible will never vote for him.

    This is why Nasheed and his people are saying that they will never arrest people when they are partying and taking drugs and drinking alcohol.

    Last week during music show, Inthi and Maria had reassured the youth about this.

  5. Poor Kuribee such a party popper. Do you think Nasheed's manifesto is about partying, what about affordable health care, taking care of the elderly, and affordable transport i guess you believe all this is also done so that people could party harder?

  6. No need to bash Nasheed for reaching out to the young voter base. This is the last leg of campaigning so its expected of all candidates to reach out and get out the vote as far as possible. Letting young people pretend to know and question policy gets them involved and gets them to think.

    However we should be careful on how far and how much we should let the youth get politicized. From this news report I think Nasheed kept it professional by focusing on youth-based issues. However the writer has highlighted the fact that our youth is increasingly getting exposed to and engaged in debates stemming from the bitter power struggle that is thinly masked by the electoral process - the survival of which hangs in the balance according to some.

    While I am sure these events are frequented not by neutral voters but party loyalists, the youth at this event highlight a deficit in the campaign strategies of other parties - that is reaching out to the urban as well as educated-rural youth.

    From a strategic viewpoint however one cannot blame PPM for sticking to their loyal voter base - that is the elderly as well as rural voters. For PPM it would only be in their long-term interests to reach out to the younger voters over the course of time. In the near-term they cannot sacrifice their traditional vote base to try new things.

    In the case of Qasim Ibrahim's JP I think they do an admirable job considering that they are just a loose collection of political figures centered around Qasim's own ambitions. Aside from MDP I feel it is JP who has maintained a sustained media/social media presence and funded entertainment venues for the youth. Perhaps most people make their judgment on JP's campaign based on the difficulty to sell Qasim as a presidential candidate given his many shortcomings. Regardless JP by bringing in Adalat has also shown that they are not keen on wooing the urban/educated youth vote.

    As for Waheed's political outfit, its only selling point is Waheed's incumbency so once and IF they mature as a political organization one will see what their voter base is. For now I think Waheed's strategy seems very similar to DRP's - that is try to appeal to the political center who has taken neither side in the grand narrative of MDP vs PPM.

    If one were to speculate, I do not see any future in JP beyond Qasim. Meanwhile PPM, on the other hand, has a future. While Yameen is a highly educated man with a technical background and the rhetoric to match, I think PPM would benefit more from promoting their own Mohamed (Kutti) Nasheed as a future candidate. Kutti, if given the right forums to shine, can best MDP's Nasheed at his own game. Also Kutti fits into PPM's developing image as the conservative party of the country. It remains to be seen whether PPM can arrange its political structure in a way that its candidate remains loyal to its financiers - similar to MDP which is hardly ruled by Nasheed. Then and only then can PPM truly mount an offensive to MDP in the arena of modern campaigning.

    This election similar to the one in 2008, is not going to be won on the strength of campaigning but will be decided by a game of numbers to prevent the re-election of yet another President who proved himself too divisive/ambitious to lead the country through this period of intense political competition.

  7. @Sham

    you ignorant baboon.

    so you have never sinned in your life? never had sex outside marriage? never drank? never got high on drugs?

    you can lie and pretend but its something we all do. and to say its the fault of one man is just f*****g retarded.

    you people are the best hypocrites in this world. you watch your internet porn but still act like a saint. you want women to wear hijab cause you see them as sex objects and not as humans.

    you sir are an idiot!

  8. @ red rabbit
    I never mentioned that it's the fault of one man and I never mentioned anything about sex outside of marriage.
    I just mentioned that he himself likes the things I mentioned, nothing more and nothing less.
    I don't understand why you use such insulting words

  9. Sham on Sun, 1st Sep 2013 7:31 PM

    "Ofcourse he will get the young voters on his side, because they all like to party, drink, use drugs, hip-hop and techno."

    Sorry, old chap, but are you talking about Ali Hameed, the supreme porn star sitting on the Supreme Court bench? If so, I wholeheartedly agree with you; the b***rd does like to drink, fornicate and God knows what else!

  10. @ Ahmed Bin Addu Bin Suvadheeb:
    First of all, I am not "an old chap", I am 26.
    Secondly, I am not talking about anybody at all, or make any other statements, just read what I wrote


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