The official results of the parliamentary elections announced last Thursday confirmed a historic landslide victory for the Maldivian Democratic Party.
It was the first time a single party won a majority of the People’s Majlis since the first multi-party elections in 2009.
The turnout was 81.3 percent with 215,053 out of 264,442 eligible voters. There were 210,253 valid votes.
Plurality for MDP
After fielding candidates in all but two of the 87 constituencies, the MDP won 65 seats. The party’s vote share was 45.8 percent with 96,354 votes.
The main opposition Progressive Party of Maldives-People’s National Congress fielded 46 candidates and won eight seats with 33,632 votes (16 percent).
The 41 candidates fielded by the ruling coalition’s Jumhooree Party – which made a pact with the PPM-PNC alliance led by former president Abdulla Yameen to back each other’s candidates – won five seats with 23,590 votes (11.2 percent).
Despite the agreement, candidates from the JP and PPM-PNC competed against each other in several constituencies. The vote was also split in constituencies where senior JP and PPM-PNC members contested as independents after the parties withdrew their tickets.
Notably, during the campaign, most JP and independent candidates pledged to cooperate with President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih.
Independent candidates – including more than 20 fielded by former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s Maldives Reform Movement – won seven seats with 45,319 votes (21.6 percent).
The PPM’s former coalition partner Maldives Development Alliance took two seats with 6,111 votes (2.9 percent).
The Adhaalath Party’s nine candidates failed to win a seat with 4,415 votes (2.1 percent).
None of the other smaller parties won any seats. The Maldives Labour and Social Democratic Party fielded 10 candidates (314 votes), former vice president Ahmed Adeeb’s Maldives Third-Way Democrats fielded eight candidates (293 votes), and the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party fielded five candidates (225 votes).
In the September 23 presidential election, MDP candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih won 134,705 votes (58.38 percent) with the backing of coalition partners JP, AP and former president Gayoom. Former president Abdulla Yameen secured 96,052 votes (41.62 percent).
In the last parliamentary elections in 2014, the former ruling coalition secured 53 out of 85 seats.
The PPM won 33 seats with 51,424 votes (27.72 percent) whilst coalition partners JP won 15 seats (25,149 votes or 13.56 percent), MDA won five seats (7,496 votes or 4.04 percent), and the AP won one seat (4,941 votes or 2.66 percent). Five candidates were elected as independent but went on to sign for the PPM.
The MDP won 40.79 percent with 75,670 votes. Despite the plurality, the party only won 26 out of 85 seats.
First past the post
The candidate who wins the largest share of votes is elected under a first-past-the-post system. In several constituencies where there were more than three candidates, winners were elected with less than 50 percent of the vote.
The Maafannu West constituency in the capital saw the most number of candidates with 10 contenders.
Of the 65 MDP candidates who won, 23 candidates failed to win a clear majority. The lowest vote share for a winning candidate was 35 percent.
Ibrahim Nazil, the MDP’s candidate for Hithadhoo South, won the highest number with 1,931 votes, followed by MDP MP-elect for Hoarafushi Ahmed Saleem (1,832 votes) and MDP MP-elect for Hinnavaru Jeehan Mahmood (1,779 votes).
Prior to announcing the official results, the Elections Commission recounted several boxes in five constituencies following complaints over unfairly rejected votes. None of the recounts changed the outcome but valid votes were found to have been wrongly counted as void.
In the Maamigili constituency, Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim gained 51 votes and widened his margin of victory.
Briefing the press on Thursday, EC chief Ahmed Shareef stressed that the Maamigili constituency was the only one where “justified” complaints were submitted during the counting process.
Votes are counted in front of observers, monitors and candidate representatives as well as members of the public. Individual ballots are also displayed.
In the Maavah constituency won by former economic development minister Mohamed Saeed, the EC recounted 72 ballot boxes and only found a few votes that were wrongly voided. Both candidates gained seven votes each in the Baarah constituency and there were no unfairly invalidated votes in the Fonadhoo constituency.
4,800 invalid votes
The number of invalid votes represented 2.3 percent of the total votes. It was up 1.3 percent from the 3,123 votes counted as invalid during the 2018 election.
Shareef blamed amendments brought to the electoral law weeks before the polls for the high number of invalid votes.
The law was amended to invalidate ballots with any drawings or scribbles other than the checkmark next to the candidate’s name. It was a measure to prevent vote buying as tagged ballots allow observers and candidate representatives to identify votes during the counting process.
But the provision was not phrased in “clear language” to avoid confusion, Shareef contended.
In most cases, ballots were counted as invalid when there were two checkmarks on top of each other, he noted.