President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has suffered a crushing blow in Local Council Elections (LCE), preliminary results showed on Sunday, amid a possible rift within the party.
In yesterday’s Local Council Elections, the ruling party MDP performed poorly with the results in their two former strongholds, capital Male’ and Addu City, earmarked as some of their worst ever.
On Saturday, voters throughout the country went to polls in Local Council Elections and the results in the two major cities were not exactly the best for MDP. In Male’ City, where MDP has been by far the most dominant for nearly a decade, the party managed to get just 7 seats out of 18 and one of the seats was an automatic-elect while the opposition, PPM, won the majority with 11 seats including the key mayoral seat.
Former Housing Minister Dr. Mohamed Muizzu is set to become the mayor of Male’ City with 61% of the votes. The total voter turnout for Male’ City was 29% down from 65% in the 2019 Parliamentary Election and 43% in the 2017 Local Council Elections.
In Addu City the story is more or less the same, MDP went from having a complete majority to losing half of a possible 12 seats and 3 seats were automatic-elect, with 3 seats going to PPM while the other 3 went to independent candidates. Former MP Ali Nizar regained the mayoral seat for MDP with 59% of the vote. However, this marks the first time MDP has lost super majority in Addu City.
More woes for MDP as they lost the seats of Gaafu Alifu and Gaafu Dhaalu’s council presidency along with all 7 seats of Ihavandhoo to arch rivals PPM. Another stronghold of MDP completely flipped to the opposition.
MDP managed to win the mayoral seat of the newly designated city, Kulhudhuffushi. MDP won 5 out of the 6 seats in the city but it was not enough to offset a disappointing election.
Local Council Elections were a major test for the current leadership of MDP and the results will not exactly fill the party’s leadership or its members with confidence. The party has not had the best few weeks in the run-up to the election, having been hit by internal conflicts and several high profile scandals.
Nearly a month ago, Former Home Minister Umar Naseer released a draft of Uthuru Thila Falhu (UTF) agreement which caused an uproar after it was revealed that the agreement handed too much power to India but subsequently it was discredited by the Ministry of Defence.
Two weeks later, Prosecutor General Hussain Shameem informed his decision to not bring charges against anyone related to the infamous ventilator scandal which was then followed by a deflecting of blames started by Parliament Speaker Mohamed Nasheed.
However, Former President and Parliament Speaker Mohamed Nasheed who guided MDP’s election campaign tried to paint a different picture of the results, congratulating his party on Twitter for a supposed victory only he could perceive.
One of the founding members of MDP, Ibrahim Ismail (Ibra), has criticized MDP leader Mohamed Nasheed for his tactics, comparing it to that of Former President Maumoon’s 30-year rule of the country. Ibra has been very critical of current leadership and said it needs to change.
The democracy Nasheed brought more than a decade ago is now rejecting his views and his actions which led to his party’s humiliation in an election without a proper campaign from the opposition. The recent voter turnout and result show members of the party he helped to organize nearly 18 years ago are now tired of Speaker Nasheed atop the two-decade-long oligarchy within the party. The current MDP leadership is part of the same kind of oligarchical tendencies they fought to eradicate more than 15 years ago.
Though Nasheed himself has accepted the leadership of MDP has failed and the brewing rift between him and President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the question of how MDP will approach this defeat is on everyone’s mind. For a party that dominated the previous two elections, has lost its way. Uncertainty looms in the future of MDP. Is this the beginning of the fall? Or just a minor setback?