Vote counting: MDP claims 125,000 votes pledged for 2013 elections

Former President Mohamed Nasheed has claimed the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) will receive at least 125,000 votes in the September 2013 election, an estimate based on the number of pledges received during its recent nationwide door-to-door campaign.

Nasheed’s contesting of the September elections appears increasingly likely after a criminal court case potentially disqualifying him from running became mired in allegations of politicisation – most notably from members of JSC, the same body responsible for both establishing the court hearing the case and appointing the panel of judges.

The Elections Commission (EC) will formally announce the various presidential candidates in mid-July.

Currently, contestants are likely to include Nasheed, as well as his former Vice President and incumbent Dr Mohamed Waheed in a possible coalition arrangement with other smaller parties.  Also expected to contest are Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) candidate Abdulla Yameen – the half-brother of the Maldives’ former autocratic leader Maumoon Abdul Gayoom – Dhivehi Rayithunge Party (DRP) Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, and Jumhoree Party (JP) Leader Gasim Ibrahim, a resort tycoon, MP, media oligarch and member of the JSC.

To win government, a candidate must secure 50 percent of the vote ‘plus one’ in the first round. If this does not happen, the EC will hold a second round ‘run-off’ election several weeks after the first.

The MDP – currently the largest party in terms of membership – has declared it intends to secure a first round win.

Despite all other parties currently in government being allied against the MDP – albeit in an increasingly fractious coalition – the opposition party has dismissed the possibility of a power sharing agreement should the outcome rest on the anticipated chaotic last-minute deal-making of a second round.

“Listen to the radio on the evening of September 7, you will hear that the Maldivian Democratic Party had received 125,000 votes. Listen to the radio, listen to the radio and watch the TV,” declared the former president at a recent rally on Milandhoo in Shaviyani Atoll.

Asked to elaborate how the figure was reached, MP and former party chairperson Mariya Ahmed Didi said the party tallied the number of people who pledged to vote for Nasheed during the the MDP’s campaigning.

“We counted the amount of pledged votes so far and came to that figure. There are still some smaller islands where we have still not completed the door-to-door,” she told Minivan News.

According to the Elections Commission, 240,302 people will be eligible to vote in the presidential elections – a 15 percent increase (31,000 people) on 2008’s 209,294 eligible voters.

Bitter political and societal polarisation over February 2012’s controversial transfer of power is likely to swing fence sitters and make the results unpredictable, but the ‘high stakes’ are liable to ensure a relatively high voter turnout – as observed during the country’s first democratic multi-party election in 2008, which saw 85 percent for both rounds.

Assuming a similar voter turnout is witnessed during September’s elections as was seen in 2008, the MDP’s estimate of securing 125,000 votes is a prediction that amounts to 61 percent of the total electorate.

Outside of political division over the transfer of power on February 7, 2012, whether the MDP is able match its ambition to win the first round will hinge on the party’s appeal to young voters – particularly 31,000 18 year-olds – and whether it can match or exceed its performance in urban areas in the 2011 local council elections.

In February 2011, the then opposition DRP secured a clear seat majority across the islands and atolls in an election with a voter turnout of 70 percent and widely considered credible.

However, MDP secured an overwhelming majority of council seats in almost every major population centre, notably Male’, Addu City in the south and Kulhudhuffushi in the north – collectively accounting for approximately 50 percent of the total population.

The DRP was later split into two factions, leading former President Gayoom to eventually break away and form the PPM, which is now the second largest party in the Maldives after the MDP in terms of number of MPs.

The remnants of the DRP, together with other parties including Gasim’s JP, potentially the Maldives Development Alliance (MDA) of resort owner MP Ahmed Shiyam, and Waheed’s coalition – presently including the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) and the religious conservative Adhaalath Party (AP) – are likely to face an uphill battle in the first round.

As such, the best chance for smaller parties to leverage power may be in drawing away enough MDP votes to survive the first round and trigger power-sharing negotiations ahead of the second round.

Election challenges

Transparency Maldives has highlighted vote-buying, political polarisation, and election credibility as critical challenges for the 2013 elections, in its comprehensive pre-election assessment report released in March this year.

The NGO noted that political polarisation in the Maldives had grown in the wake of the failed all-party talks and events of February 7, 2012, leading to bitter mistrust between political factions and the pervading sense among parties that the loss of the upcoming elections “could amount to losing everything”.

“Political polarisation is characterised by mutual mistrust and radical negative categorisation of people, politicians, political parties and, sometimes, entire institutions,” Transparency noted.

“It’s characterised by the lack of self-reflective criticism, by the failures to hold one’s own self and party to account, and the inability to listen to and compromise for the callings of the other side. It’s also characterised by an apparent struggle for political power as a bitter zero-sum game.”

As a result of this polarisation, the limited space for public debate on urgently-required public policies and programs continue to be “colonised by demagogic appeals to religio-nationalist sentiments, empty motifs, and outlandish electoral promises never intended to be delivered,” Transparency stated.

“Similarly, as the polarisation is symbolised by political personalities, political debate is likely to center on personalities as opposed to issue-based discourse.”

Particular challenges around polarisation include a “lack of cooperation and dialogue among major political parties, opening up space for intolerance and violence”, “a possibility of contestation of elections results, especially if the victory is through a narrow margin”, and the risk that even if the election results are respected, “a significant segment of the polity might reject the incoming president as the representative for all the people in the true democratic spirit required in defeat.”

Transparency called in the findings for restraint among parties, appealed for policy debates, and extensive and long term observation on behalf of the international community.


11 thoughts on “Vote counting: MDP claims 125,000 votes pledged for 2013 elections”

  1. With PPM announcing Jameel as VP, the only factor between MDP and a landslide for MDP is how clever Dr. Waheed is.

    Now it is a race between Nasheed and Waheed. PPM has rules itself out by choosing Jameel the unstable loud mouth.

  2. The common man today cannot afford to have three meals a day, pay utility bills, increasing medical expenses and rental charges unless he borrows and commit to pay from resources he doesn't have. Simple reasons being the collapse in proper governense and unplanned life of over spending.

    Similarly, the present government is spending more than it has thus the collapse of the economy. Faith cannot relieve us our problems. This is a century where affordability comes first, the rest follow.

    MDP with its celebrity candidate Nasheed can salve the country from the present ruins through its international recognition, but is ready to have qualified economists, capable lawmakers and follow the rule of law? Three years of blunders should be a lesson.

    For us who are hard core MDP followers to the core, we're skeptical but as well, optimistic. Our lives today are worse than before the coup and we all know who has messedup the country.

    Nasheed, for sure you will secure more than 60%, but please we have children to educate and feed, the old to care for, an a future to save for. Keep it mind that this is your last opportunity, the only era that democracy can prevail and corruption and extremism to be faced off.

    African countries were worse than Maldives decades ago, but most have realized their mistakes, accepted change and now most economies are booming and life is better today than yesterday. MDP should never let the filthy corrupted rich and the uneducated extremists to take us back to the dark days. For the sake of our children and survival of Maldives, we all must vote for MDP.

  3. 'Angry-bird' Jameel as running mate is a let down of PPM members. If PPM get more than 10,000 votes this time, they are lucky.

    The match/contest is sold to MDP.

  4. @facts
    You make the very important point about the common man. In the past, the kings, queens, sultans, tsars and others who ruled in a variety of ways, kept the ordinary citizen out of the equation. One of their greatest tools was keeping people ignorant so that difficult questions won't be asked. The idea that power is handed down by god to the rulers also pesrsited for centuries and it still does in some parts of the world. The printing press and the internet have greatly changed these things and the ordinary people have the power to ask questions and be considered an important part of the political landscape.

    Politics is about power. Who has it and for what purpose.I have followed the rise of the MDP movement and is an active supporter of it because as far as I can see, they are the only group that's thought through policies that will improve the lot of the ordinary Maldivians. The rest keeps harping about 'power sharing'. There is a huge message in this phrase in a Maldivian context. What they mean by this is sharing the advantages that power brings and generally having a good time and disregarding the development of the nation. The old style of governance- Gayoom style, Waheed style.

    I am not naive enough to think that that MDP is perfect. No group is.
    However, Maldivians need to think in terms of their own survival and support MDP because it is their best chance of improving their lot. It worries me that so many are hoodwinked by the propaganda of people like Waheed who are incompetent and have no interest in the well being of the people.

  5. First, there was no coup. Please folks! don't lie, its detrimental to your mental health. Learn to 'hajamu'. by all means.

    Second. MDP made many mistakes. And people remember those. Lemme list some.

    1. to get in to parliament, MDP increase the size of parliament from 48 to 72. its going to increase every year now. wastage of peoples money.

    2. when people complained about brothels in Male, MDP sent shockwaves to the world by announcing closure of spas in 5 star resorts. This small time prostitution and 5 star resort spa operation are very different. They just got cynical and rattled a whole industry.

    3. MDP is definitely laadheenee (secular) and harbours a sizable population of atheists and kuffar who constantly work to undermine islam and hurt people's religious sentiment. You don't endear to people by offending their belief. Maariya, Hamid, Jaabir,

    4. MDP let DRP spoil their original council system which is a good one. By comparison what we had before is infinitely better.

    5. MDP alienated police, mndf, civil service workers with its bad and sometimes good intentioned policies. The problem is that they were too exclusive and did not consult 'others'. The 'others' also dhivehi people who deserve to be heard.

    6. MDP called for tourism boycott of the whole country which no patriot would and will forgive. There are things you do in anger and limits to the damage you want to cause. But calling for the boycott of the whole industry is a very bad cowardly move.

    7. MDP needs to change its core Male' aristocratic group to evolve to a better more coherent political force. Now it resembles more of a cult than a party.


  6. @ human being.
    All what you said is probably true but that not NOT matter one bit. Its not even about MDP

    What matters poverty and income and PPM has no answers. All PPM are saying is MDP naaa naana..nanna balah balah blahhh blahha

    But at least MDP has some policies despite all wrongs.

    Think how delusional and headless you are.

  7. I’ am grass root supporter of MDP and hope that our party will secure at least 60% voters for up Cumming presidential election.
    However, I hope that the leadership (president Nasheed) will look into past mistakes and choose a credible team free, of corruption and of opportunity seekers.

    Maldives is rich country with many untapped resources but ordinary citizen are deprived of even basic needs, in reality we live hand to mouth. The only way to change this situation is to implement proper taxation. I do not understand why the rich should not tax for wealth tax!

    The land in Male’ and other Islands are given by the government to people for dwelling but unfortunately these lands are been commercialized and it is not been taxed. The majority of fortunate citizens who are not lucky enough to obtain lands have to pay through nose to rent a rat-hole. I do hope that this situation will change

  8. If the PPM win, i will leave the country and take my family and business with me!

  9. MDP have good policies but when Nahseed become the leader all is forgotten and then he will start to rule as a dictator .

    Even in 2008, MDP had a good manifesto, but Nasheed never bothered to look at it and he did everything to liking of him only.

    Nasheed will continue to be a dictator and he will never bring any good and he will ended up selling this country to India

  10. @Kuribee..

    Your are wrong. MDP does not have good polices.

    But at least they have some polices and your party has nothing. Zilch. Thats the point.

  11. @check your head
    You are getting a very basic fact wrong here. If somebody criticizes MDP, it doesn't mean he will automatically follow PPM. There is the third front and the the fourth as well. Everybody is not a 'party animal' y know?


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