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2024 Parliamentary Elections in the Maldives

© 2023 Shaheedh Hussain via


Written by Dara Masita (South and East Asia Team)

2024 Parliamentary Elections in the Maldives


On April 12th, 2024, the Maldives will hold its general election for its parliament. The elections were supposed to be on March 17th, but as it coincided with Ramadan, President
Mohammed Muizzu passed a bill to move the election date to April.1 The Maldivian
Parliament, also known as the People’s Majlis is composed of 93 members for 2024.

As the youngest democracy in South Asia, the multi-party election only started in 2008.3
Before that, the members of the Majlis were decided completely by the ruling party. The
members from each administrative atoll are represented in the parliament, an additional two
members are elected from the capital of Malé, and the president appoints eight members. The
members of the parliament are in office for a term of five years. The Majlis possess strong
legislative powers that allow them to scrutinise many executive decisions.

This year’s parliamentary election is deemed important to clarify President Muizzu’s
administrative policies particularly because the Maldives have started straining its relations
with India and favouring China. Additionally, there have been cases of internal struggle
within the parties and the regular political tensions between them. On top of that, with
concerning practices such as vote selling and misuse of state resources, this election is riddled
with controversies.


This article will cover the situation relating to the parliamentary elections regarding the
parties and the implications.




1 Parliamentary parties

1.1 Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)

The MDP is the first political party in the Maldives founded on November 10th 2003 in exile
in Colombo Sri Lanka. They currently have 51,919 members,5and they are the first party to
secure a majority without forming a coalition at the last parliamentary election having 56
Members of Parliament (MPs). Their ideology is liberal conservatism and Islamic democracy.
The MDP generally promotes democracy (e.g. free and fair elections) and human rights in the
Maldives. Their previous pledges included affordable housing, lower costs of living, and the
establishment of a national transport system. Additionally, they pledge to increase the
education, training, and employment of Maldivian youths.


In the 2023 Presidential Elections, MDP-affiliated President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih who
was running for a second term pledged a five-part manifesto.8 This included happy living, a
peaceful society, a new generation of youth, revolutionising the economy, and ensuring good


There have been internal issues within the Party. In the 2023 Presidential Election, some
members of the Party broke away from the MDP and created a new faction called The
Democrats which former President Mohamed Nasheed led. Due to this breakaway faction,
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih was unable to get enough votes to run for a second term.
Since the MDP still have the majority in the parliament, they passed a bill requiring any MPs
who have switched parties to resign. Nevertheless, the President has not ratified the bill.


The MDP is currently the opposition party in the parliament. They have criticised Muizzu’s
government for establishing stronger ties with China. For example, Muizzu entered into a
Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with a Chinese company to develop an agricultural
special economic zone instead of using the Maldives’ limited land for housing does not sit
right with the Party. Meanwhile, this agreement with China is a part of Muizzu’s strategy to
reduce food imports and to decrease India’s influence.


1.2 The Democrats (DEM)

The Democrats is a breakaway faction from the MDP founded in 2023. The members of the Democrats are loyalists of former President Mohamed Nasheed and they currently hold seats in the Majlis. Nasheed left the MDP after surviving life-threatening injuries after a bomb attack in 2021. However, his opponents claim that he left the MDP because he lost in the MDP’s presidential primaries to former President Solih. Nasheed and Solih were close friends, and Nasheed’s disappointment in Solih’s failure to effectively address issues such as corruption and religious extremism led Nasheed to switch allegiance.


The ideology of the Democrats is democracy, individual freedoms, good governance, and
economic prosperity for all. To be achieved through equal rights with integrity. The Party’s constitution and values ensure each member, community, city and atoll is represented in the
decision-making process. With the emphasis on the voices of women’s and youth.


The policies for economic, social and development are aimed at protecting and preserving the Maldives’ surrounding environment while promoting climate adaptation and inclusive
sustainable policies. Furthermore, the Party believes that the utilisation of technology and
innovation will empower economic and financial development. With this new party, the Maldives’ political landscape is changing, and it is possible to witness that in the upcoming election.


1.3 People’s NAtional Congress (PNC)

The PNC is currently the ruling party in the parliament as President Muizzu belongs to this
party. They were founded in 2019 with a conservatism and political Islam ideology. They currently have three MPs in the parliament. From 2019 to 2023, PNC allied with the PPM and became the “Progressive Congressive Coalition”. However, after Muizzu took office, the
internal tension between the coalition increased which was followed by a series of spectacles.
Such as demanding Muizzu’s resignation by former President Abdulla Yameen and Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, and Yameen resigning from his position as the leader of the PPM to create a new party – the People’s National Front.


The PNC manifesto can be seen as progressive and encouraging for the economic development and Maldivian local livelihood. PNC’s youth policies include increasing working opportunities in the modern market trend such as the accessibility to the freelance marketplace and creating seller accounts on global e-commerce platforms. The party is also expanding “Exclusive for Maldivians” employment fields to limit expatriate competition for
lucrative jobs.


In human rights-related policies, the PNC promotes gender equality by issuing certificates to institutions and private companies that practise gender equality with the “Gender Equality” seal. They also tripled the annual budgetary allocation for social care, investing in human capital (especially in the education sector to make the workforce 100 per cent local), and improving access to healthcare, amongst others.


However, there is doubt in this ruling party. Normally, the PNC candidates are selected through party primaries. Many candidates who lost in these primaries are choosing to run independently. Muizzu has further complicated the situation by withdrawing his support from some official PNC candidates and instead endorsing these independent candidates. This move is causing uncertainty within the party.


1.4 Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM)

The PPM was founded in 2011 and it currently has four MPs, their ideology is political Islam, conservatism, and nationalism. The goal for the PPM is for the Maldives to be independent and democratic, safe and secure, high income, with high human capital, developed nation-state with a diversified and robust economy whilst preserving Islamic heritage. As stated in the previous section (1.3), PPM had a coalition with PNC but due to a leadership dispute, the parties separated. In the last parliamentary election of 2019, the PPM experienced a big loss to the MDP. Also in 2019, the former president and leader of the PPM, Abdulla Yameen was convicted of money laundering, but the Court threw out his sentence.


1.5 Maldives Development Alliance (MDA)

The MDA was founded in 2012 and it has economic liberalism and political Islam as their ideology. They currently have two seats in the parliament. The MDA supports grassroots
activists, empowering voters, and organising on every island.19 They have previously formed a coalition with the PPM.


1.6 Maldives National Party (MNP)

The MNP was founded in 2021 with an Islamic democracy and nationalism ideology, it currently has three seats in the parliament. This party is based on nationalism, hope, love, and unity. They completely oppose the idea of coercion, totalitarianism, and exploitation of the proletariats; and vouch for progressive reforms.

1.7 Republican Party (JP)

The Republican Party also known as the Jumhoree Party possess economic liberalism, social conservatism, and Islamic democracy as their ideology. It used to be the largest opposition in parliament, however, it now holds three seats. Their manifesto is centred around economic productivity. Such as decreasing the unemployment rate to zero per cent, developing infrastructure, decreasing the national debt, opening an investment bank, and so forth.


2 Election Results and Implications

2.1 Concerns for Electoral Process

Before the elections, the Pre-Election Assessments covered by Transparency Maldives noted several key issues. The first one would be the selling of votes. Candidates who were interviewed expressed their concerns on the issue of vote buying. Since voters explicitly asked for money and other benefits in exchange for their votes. Furthermore, it was reported that state resources are being misused to fund vote buying and electoral gain.


The second issue would be the low representation of women in candidate roles, especially from larger political parties. Particularly because the manifestos of many parties is to ensure gender equality. The third and final issue is the failure to facilitate voters to represent their area of residence because the voter list is being drafted with their permanent address. Hence, a lot of the voters cannot vote in the area that directly concerns them economically, socially, and politically. This is a big issue as thousands of Malé residents relocated to the city from their atolls.


Transparency Maldives has formulated several recommendations for stakeholders to implement. Such as addressing the issue that women may face at a political party level, and strengthening supervision to prevent vote buying, the parliament should review articles in relation to Governments misusing state resources, and address the current permanent address-based system. It is currently unknown to what extent the votes in the election are bought off.


2.2 Election Results

The elections on Sunday have revealed that Muizzu’s party – the PNC – has received a landslide victory. The tentative count shows that PNC won around 66 seats out of 93, which is more than the MDP’s in the last parliamentary elections. The PNC has achieved a super majority with two-thirds seats in the parliament. While the MDP only managed to get 15


Muizzu won the presidential election in 2023 because he promised to end the island nation’s “India first” policy to balance out the foreign policy space. He kicked out 75 Indian soldiers
stationed in the Maldives to patrol the maritime border.Then, Muizzu signed a “military assistance” deal with China.The night before the parliamentary election, Muizzu accused his predecessor President Solih of compromising national sovereignty by giving India too much influence and that he needed PNC to be the majority for him to follow through with his campaign promise. Muizzu already has high domestic approval due to his development projects. This speech might have struck the voters further as they voted for PNC to be the majority due to his high domestic approval.


With the supermajority in the parliament, Muizzu does not need to worry about his power as he effectively controls everything. He has control over the executive and legislative branches, it is arguably possible that he can control the judiciary as he has enough numbers in the parliament.


2.3 Implications

The implications posed by a supermajority of the ruling party could be the subversion of democratic practice. With a two-thirds majority in the parliament, it can amend the Constitution. With this, measures to prevent the abuse of power should be implemented. The previous authoritarian government of the Maldives less than two decades ago is still fresh in the citizens’ memory. It is expected of Muizzu’s government to uphold the principle of democracy – as promoted by the PNC’s manifesto.


Furthermore, the PNC’s pro-China stance will allow Muizzu to further cooperate with China in developing infrastructure, especially in the Maldives’ integration into the Belt and Road Initiative. This cooperation is allegedly labelled as a “debt trap” as coined by Western nations after seeing Sri Lanka falling on heavy debts from Chinese-funded infrastructure projects.


Due to the development-centred pledges of Muizzu’s government, the subject of human rights is not focused on. During the inauguration of Muizzu, Human Rights Watch sent a letter to the new government to address human rights issues and suggested several recommendations. Nevertheless, Muizzu’s acts on human rights have not appeared on world news. On one hand, he boasted that his government would be “clean, transparent, and accountable,” it is optimistic that the issues of civil liberties will be dealt with properly. On the other hand, governments that prioritise economic development have witnessed violations of civil rights to expedite the process. With that, Muizzu should take up the Human Rights Watch recommendations to ensure all civil rights are protected.



Overall, although a lot of tensions in the Maldives’ political landscape were present due to
breakaway factions and personal contempt, concerns regarding a fair electoral process, the
Maldivians have cast their votes. Due to Muizzu’s pro-China and pro-development stance, the people of Maldives see him as a breath of fresh air standing against the traditional “India’s first” policy of his predecessors. It seems that Muizzu’s actions so far have been approved by his citizens because they filled the parliament seats with members of his party – the PNC. This means that the Maldivians are eager to see Muizzu’s campaign promises to roll out. With about 65 out of 93 seats in the parliament, the PNC achieved asupermajority. With this, Muizzu and his party can effectively control all branches of the government which brings the possibility of an abuse of power to the table. Hopefully, Muizzu and his party stand by the principle of democracy as stated in their manifesto and continue to improve the livelihood of the Maldivians.



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