Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Is Trial and Error the Reason for PPM Feydhoo to Lose Local Council Election?

Addu City Council Feydhoo Seat is won by MDP candidate. In the three local council elections held so far, PPM was silently defeated by MDP.

It is believed the membership proportion between MDP to PPM in Feydhoo is 55:45 and the final score of 2014 September election result came with perfect match. 2014 January election result shows 49:42 for MDP and PPM with two more candidates in the election. The figures when converted to percentage come out with similar ratio which is 53:47. The gap between PPM and MDP rising from 6 to 10% is believed to be significantly high while PPM in power. I believe it should be a matter of concern for PPM as well.

Looking at the figures, we understand more people voted for MDP than PPM at both local council elections held in 2014. During the elections, MDP front line activists believed their is no need for harsh campaign as they are able to defeat PPM easily. PPM activists say it is easy to shatter and persuade MDP voters towards PPM. They were successful with it to some extent as well.

In both elections, MDP did a silent campaign while PPM was noisier.

According to 'Political Campaign Manual' of National Democratic Institute, data is one of the crucial element in any political campaign. Although there were three or four major elections recently, MDP treated each election as unique and used their long kept data to the full advantage with guidance and expertise from same leadership well trained by Conservative Party of UK.

PPM Feydhoo does not maintain proper data and campaigns were held with reflections from the past. PPM candidate wanted to campaign on her own style not relying much on others. The intentional disinvolvement of PPM patch leaders in the front-line of campaign might be a significant minus for PPM.

Ronald A. Faucheux in his book 'Winning Elections: Political Campaign Management, Strategy, and Tactics' says questions like; how many are registered to vote, what could be the expected yield, how many are pledged voters, how many voters are to be targeted, what could be strategies to persuade the targeted voters and how to implement the strategies; are important questions to win any election. 

MDP diligently targeted voters with the power of their accurate data and statistic and persuaded as much voters as possible within the MDP. MDP members alone is enough to win the election. However, they moved out of their comfort zone wherever possible. PPM did not target their voters and tried to persuade as many voters within MDP as possible. I believe PPM did persuade a pretty good number of voters within MDP as several youngsters signed for PPM and joined campaign. This was a progressive step to PPM. PPM did not target their own voters without their support it was not possible to win the election. PPM candidate believed it is customary for PPM members to vote it's candidate. However, there were mixed feelings towards this belief.

PPM organized expensive campaign events that include but not limited to daily evening tea where candidate was visible and expressed dialogue with visitors, continuous door to door visit till the very last day, President Yameen's Feydhoo visit during campaign, and a music show and a road show with professionals from Male.

MDP campaign was silent. Apart from candidate's door to door visit and one or two rallies no other activity was visible.

Both PPM and MDP did not come out with a clear message to voters. There were several slogans and messages over the social media. Non of the candidates addressed the power vested in them by the constitution and how to get along with it to the benefit of city folks.

The credibility of MDP candidate was high among elders and middle-aged people. He was a former footballer. Among his team members of that time, he is still a popular choice. He was a teacher and a Headmaster at Feydhoo School. His students of those days have a soft corner for him even today. PPM candidate is yet young and was very popular among youngsters.

In local elections, family play an important role to win the seat. MDP candidate was from one of the biggest families called 'mohodhaage'. His wife is from another big family called 'vevukandhigey'. It is said the candidate and his allies persuaded incredibly high number of votes within the circle of two extended families. PPM candidate was from the popular family of Katheeb Dhonrahaa. The family was one of the very influential during their time and it's strong roots prevail even today.

There is a pretty good number of votes within hands of people with radical thinking or believed to be radical thinkers. There was a fierce anti-campaign against PPM candidate saying there should be no woman leader in a society of Muslims. I believe this worked to some extent.

In addition there was fierce anti-campaign against PPM candidate at social media. Her character was badly assassinated several times. This was systematically implemented by MDP fans. However, I did not come across a single moment of anti-campaign on behalf of  PPM candidate. Despite that, I believe both candidates were equally popular at the social media.

The appearance of Mr.Ibrahim Didi, Member of Parliament for Feydhoo Constituency, should be a special mention. He worked harder to make it a success for PPM candidate. To be frank he worked harder for this campaign than his own campaign for parliamentary election. He spent all his time and energy for the campaign in addition to financing major campaign activities. He influenced many voters behind the curtain. I believe the gap between PPM and MDP would have been much bigger if he was not involved in the campaign at the level he did. He toiled every drop of sweat for PPM success till the very last minute and he was speechless for days after losing the election.

The willingness of PPM Leadership to support and elect their candidate was highest among all elections since 2013. They paved every possible way for the candidate to win.

The popularity of candidate, high number of votes within the extended family, and a large pool of pledged voters within the party were strengths of MDP candidate. Governmental support, MP Ibrahim Didi's full support and involvement, family members to support and lend a hand at the party leadership level, and being popular among MDP youth were strengths for PPM candidate.

According to PPM seniors, relying much on opposite party votes is not very advisable as people and youth at party activist level are very difficult to persuade to vote opposition candidate although they maintain a healthy relationship.

It was difficult for PPM candidate to have a clear picture of voter intention as the candidate herself tried to analyse it. When the candidate approaches voters, it's a simple 'YES' from everyone. There was no strategy to cross check. The patch leaders who are experienced in this work did not participate in the campaign.

A highly structured strategic actions to target voters of both PPM and MDP with accurate data and statistic could have made the result very different, if not shocking.