MDP calculates four percent lead over DRP in popular vote

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has released a statement claiming it has calculated the popular vote in last week’s local council elections as 44% MDP, 40% DRP, based on current available data.

The popular vote reflects the overall political preference of voters, and has not yet been released by the Elections Commission (EC). The MDP said it produced the figures based on data currently published by the EC on its website.

Both parties declared victory and were celebrating this week after the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) won a decisive seat majority in the local council elections, while the MDP won control of major population hubs.

If the MDP’s figures match those of the Elections Commission, when published, they would reflect a major show of faith in the ruling party – the MDP received 25 percent in the 2008 presidential election and 33 percent in the parliamentary election early following year, but there has been no impartial polling of the country’s chaotic political scene since then.

A senior MDP source insisted to Minivan News that the party’s math was sound, subject to available data from the EC.

“A 44 percent result in the local council election would show that MDP has a clear path to the presidential election in 2013,” the source claimed.

Only the preliminary ballot counts are currently available from the EC, and include the multiple votes made by islanders for both atoll and island councils (urban dwellers voted once for city councils). Given the higher population of the urban hubs that almost unanimously swung towards the MDP, the party’s four percent lead on the DRP could well be accurate. This would have to be offset against the (anecdotally) lower voter turnout in urban areas, as compared to islands – again, the EC has yet to publish the figures – and the split opposition vote in many areas due to multiple factions of the DRP competing for the same seat, sometimes on an independent ticket.

Vice President of the Elections Commission Ahmed Hassan Fayaz told Minivan News that the current Elections Commission results available were on the its website, and that ”other results have nothing to do with the EC’s results.”

The MDP statement also noted that the current results indicated that the Dhivehi Quamee Party (DQP) – the DRP’s new coalition partner as of yesterday – had won a single seat, and that leader Dr Hassan Saeed had failed to secure a seat in his home atoll, Addu.

The MDP also criticised the performance of its own coalition partner Adhaalath, claiming that its securing of 17 seats and control of just one council (Kinolhas), showed that “Maldivians will not accept the use of religion as a political weapon.”

Adhaalath Party Leader Sheikh Hussain Rasheed earlier this week praised his party’s performance, stating that “we believe that success is for to whom God grants it. And we believe that we can only serve the citizens to the extent the citizens wish us to.”

Polling benefits aside, the new layer of government introduced by the elections will cost the Maldives over US$220,000 per month.

The President of every island council will receive a salary and allowance of Rf 15,000 (US$1160), council members Rf 11,000 (US$850). The mayor of Male’ will receive Rf 45,000 (US$3500).

In addition to salaries, explained acting Finance Minister Mahmoud Razee, parliament has allocated a further Rf200 million (US$15.5 million) to office expenses – at a time when the country has a double-figure deficit, a crippling foreign exchange shortage and complete reliance on a single industry. The government has said this will come out of its existing office budget.