Maldives - 2019 - Parliamentary Election
Polls closed following a parliamentary vote in the Maldives 06 April 2019, with some 78 percent of voters casting their ballots. Political turmoil has plagued the archipelago for years, with China and India vying for influence. The parliamentary election in the Maldives has concluded "without major incidents," an electoral commission official said.
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih (pictured above) needed at least 44 seats in the 87-member parliament to secure a majority. His coalition currently has 52 seats, but one major political partner with 22 seats recently aligned with former president Yameen Abdul Gayoom. Solih's Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Yameen's Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) are the main contenders in the election.
Solih, who defeated Yameen in last year's presidential election, requires a majority in parliament to be able to pass legislation and implement his political and economic agenda. The president has promised reforms, an end to political influence over the judiciary, police and the bureaucracy, and a curb on financial corruption. The vote also marked the comeback of the country's first democratically elected leader, Mohamed Nasheed, who, after being released by the courts, is running for a seat in the election.
In the 2018 presidential election, the opposition parties had joined hands to defeat Yameen, but soon after Solih's victory, the coalition split and left the new president without a parliamentary majority. Yameen, who was released in March 2019 from detention after being arrested in February on corruption allegations, spoke to voters through a phone call broadcast over loudspeakers.
Both China and India are trying to outdo each other's influence on the Maldives. Solih's MDP is considered pro-India and wants to scale down Chinese influence on the Maldives.
While Yameen was in power, China had gained more political influence across the archipelago. Under Yameen, the Maldivian economy showed signs of improvement, although economists say the country's growth was partly due to aid and investment from China. Beijing considers the Maldives an important route in its "Belt and Road" initiative, which, along with other objectives, aims to connect the Indian Ocean to Central Asia.
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