The ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) has set primaries for 27 constituencies to determine candidates for the People’s Majlis elections.
Polls will proceed between 4:00pm and 11:00pm on Saturday (February 8). Party members are required to register to vote by 12:00am on Saturday.
The PPM has not yet publicised the list of eligible candidates. The party’s Secretary General Mohamed Zuhair said the list will be revealed this evening.
Parties in the ruling coalition allocated 49 seats to the PPM, 28 seats to the Jumhooree Party (JP) and nine seats to the Maldives Democratic Alliance (MDA).
Of the 49 seats, 13 candidates received the party ticket by default – including eight incumbent MPs.
Regarding the nine remaining constituencies, the party has not yet decided whether to hold a primary or award the party ticket to the nine incumbent MPs.
Local media has reported the PPM leadership to be split over the issue.
An estimated 150 candidates applied for the PPM ticket in 36 constituencies. The party said it will grade applicants on a six point criteria, and that only candidates receiving over 75 points would be allowed to compete.
The criteria includes the extent to which candidates have upheld the party ideology, the length and amount of service to the party, their experience in parliament, and participation in the presidential campaign. Candidates in unspecified special categories designated by the party will also receive extra points.
In the instance only one candidate in a constituency meets the 75 percent threshold, he or she will be awarded the party ticket, and if all applicants fail then a primary will be held among all candidates.
The procedure for selecting candidates have come under fire with supports in Laamu Atoll Kunahandhoo holding a protest over the allegations that the PPM may not hold a primary for the Maavah constituency.
The MDA held primaries last week for two of the nine constituencies reserved for the party. The party ticket was awarded to two incumbent MPs and a further two candidates won the ticket by default.
Although the Gaaf Dhaal Atoll Gahdhoo constituency was reserved for the MDA, the party will not be field a candidate in order to allow incumbent MP Zahir Adam to run as an independent.
Zahir at present belongs to the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), but did not apply to contest in the MDP primaries. The Gahdhoo MP violated a three-line whip in December and has been suspended from the party until after the Majlis elections.
The religious conservative Adhaalath Party has also announced it will field five candidates in constituencies reserved for the JP.
The AP has condemned the coalition’s decision to exclude the party from the constituency allocation.
The deadline for submitting applications to the Elections Commission is February 11.