Monday, February 3, 2014

Does MDP Inculcate Better Democratic Values Than PPM?



President Gayyoom ratified the poplar green constitution of Maldives during his last term of presidency that succeeded the proliferation of liberal democracy in the Maldives. President Nasheed, the leader of MDP, was the first democratically elected president.

Since 2008 presidential election, two local council elections and one parliamentary election was held. If we look at the statistics of the three elections, we understand MDP-won-elections comparatively increased. It is said the number of true MDP members also increased tremendously.

Local Councils

At the first local council election during 2008, PPM won almost all the atolls. It is said  some councils tried to institutionalize their councils as self-governing states like federations while Maldives is a unitary state. Maldives, as a unitary state, governs on a single unit where central government is supreme and administrative governments exercise powers it's central government chooses to delegate. I believe the purpose of the Local Government Act does not mean to give autonomy to local governments but to pave ways to exercise powers delegated to them.

President Nasheed then established institutions called 'Gaumee Idhaaraa'. The intention was to harmonize conflicts between  councils and central government. However, the institutions did not function as expected. Councils considered them extra layer of bureaucracy and wanted to bypass them. I believe Maldivians by nature love quick fixes and always want royal roads to walk on.

After Nasheed administration, President Waheed abolished Gaumee Idhaaraa on the very next day. Even then it does nor seem the councils performed any better. I believe neither the councils nor the government succeeded in meeting peoples' expectations during local governments' first term.

The results of local council election for the second term came out with a very different picture. This time MDP won fairly handsome portion of seats.  PPM, though in power, succeeded comparatively very less. The number of seats won by the JP was also significant while Adhaalath and MDA won few seats.

Parliament

First parliamentary election after the arrival of democracy was held in 2009. MDP, while in power, did not win the majority. The opposition DRP got the most seats. Neither ruling party nor opposition got clear majority. After sometime DRP was divided into two and there emerged a new party called PPM within DRP. Since then, DRP started fading the shining rays and today it is doubtful if it is going to long last any more.

After sometime, parliament members from PPM joined MDP and their voice became louder and stronger in the parliament. MDP members' hostile confrontation and refusal to listen presidential address by President Waheed during 2012 and 2013 were unforgettable mentions during the history of the parliament.

The second parliamentary election is expected in April or March. PPM is in the process of nominating candidates for party primary under strict criterion. There are several rumors within PPM members about nominating candidates.

Some people say PPM would like to offer tickets to ladies if there is a single lady candidate applied for a constituency. Others say they would like to disqualify candidates whom the party council is not happy with. Another rumor says PPM wants to offer automatic nominations for existing parliament members. A close ally of PPM Athifa Shakoor said  she will try to get seats for ladies wherever possible. In the meantime, Raajje TV News reported an incident at Laamu Kunahandhoo where members stood against PPM for unfair nomination of candidates.

It is said the rumors continued till President Maumoon finally blew the whistle and ordered to offer tickets to all eligible candidates. President Maumoon made the decision at the very right time when their is absolute need for intervention.

Whatever the case, the rumors give us room to assume there is every prejudice towards nomination.

MDP has elected candidates through party primary. They did not have criterion for primary nomination and all eligible candidates were registered for polling. However, they too had several difficulties. Candidates were extremely unhappy with electorate and several versions came out before polling. Incidents of fighting were reported and even ballot boxes were burnt.

Addu City Feydhoo MDP polling held on an invalid electorate. According to report published by Addu City Feydhoo Polling Focal Point Mr Abdulla Saeed, 'polling was held under a threatened environment where people had no guarantee of their safety'.

Members and Their Feelings

Kunahandhoo members coming against the party was not a joke. It was a matter to think seriously.

I believe it is high time for PPM to look into similar matters and work closely with members. According to members, relationship between party leadership and them has got every room for improvement. Voice of members in the islands are usually not heard and even proper instruction are not conveyed to members, even on  important events like election. However, the loyalty of members of PPM is surprisingly high, I believe.

Coming to MDP, the scenario is very different. The party leadership is structurally knitted into every fabric of the party. Though it is Male or Baarah, Addu City or Nolhivaram it is perfectly same and every island performs strictly as per MDP philosophy. President Nasheed seems to be having extraordinary ability to re-stitch every fabric whenever and wherever it is torn out.