The religious conservative Adhaalath Party has increased its membership to 10,000, defusing fears that it may not receive funds from the state budget next year.
The parliament in August amended the Political Parties Act to set a threshold of 10,000 registered members for parties to be eligible for state funding. The amount depends on the size of the party membership.
The Adhaalath Party, which has 9009 members, had proposed decreasing the threshold to 7,000 members, but the bill was rejected last week.
Ali Zahir, the AP’s spokesman, said that the party had submitted an additional 1000 membership forms with fingerprints to the Elections Commission. The threshold was too high for the Maldives because of its population, he contended.
“This amount is not feasible or reasonable for Maldives. We have a population of 350,000. When you reduce the number of people in government institutions, and 30,000 for one party and 40,000 for another party, we, the smaller parties, cannot gather a large amount of members,” he said.
The changes to the 2013 law states that parties without 3,000 members will have three months to reach the mandatory minimum number. Parties that fail to register 3,000 members will be dissolved.
The ruling Progressive Party of Maldives has 36,232 members. The Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party, from which the PPM emerged as a splinter faction, has 14,750 members. The Jumhooree Party has 13,990 members. The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party is the largest party with 46,608 members.
Some eight parties will be dissolved next month. These include several dysfunctional parties, including the Islamic Democratic Party, former President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s Gaumee Ithihaad Party.
The Political Parties Act had previously stipulated that parties must have a minimum of 10,000 members. However, the Supreme Court struck down the provision as unconstitutional in September 2013.
The law states the state must allocate 0.1 – 0.2 percent of the budget for political parties. Funds must be disbursed within the first three months of the year according to the number of members in each party.
More than MVR20 million (US$1.3 million) was allocated for political party funding in the 2015 budget. The Elections Commission disbursed the funds in June with the MDP receiving the highest amount at MVR7 million (US$459,244).
The parties must submit an annual report and an audit report before funds can be disbursed.