After a span of five years under the leadership of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who emerged victorious in the 2018 elections after a closely contested battle against former President Yameen Abdul Qayoom, the Maldives is currently gearing up for yet another round of competitive elections. This period signifies a critical juncture in the nation's democratic journey, as its citizens once again prepare to exercise their right to choose their next leader.
Since President Solih's inauguration in 2018, the Maldives has undergone a significant transformation, setting the stage for a highly competitive Presidential race that unfolded on September 9, 2023. The election witnessed an unprecedented array of candidates, with a total of eight individuals vying for the country's top leadership position.
Adding to the intrigue, former President Yameen Abdul Gayoom found himself facing an 11-year jail term on allegations of corruption, a development that prevented his Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) from participating independently. Instead, the PPM joined forces with the People's National Congress (PNC) and rallied behind the mayoral figure of Male' City, Dr. Mohamed Muizzu, as their candidate of choice.
While many anticipated an intense and prolonged campaign season, delays stemming from the ongoing trial of Yameen led to a relatively subdued lead-up to the election. It was only in the final days leading up to the voting day that the campaigns gained full momentum.
On September 9th, amid anticipation and the presentation of various candidates' manifestos, Maldivian citizens exercised their constitutional right to cast their votes in the Presidential election. With speculations and accusations swirling around multiple candidates, the outcome was both predictable and unpredictable. The competition primarily revolved around the two major parties: the PPM-PNC coalition and the Maldives Democratic Party (MDP), leading many to expect that the leaders of these parties would dominate the election.
Despite lingering uncertainty about whether the election would conclude in a single round or require a runoff, none of the candidates secured the necessary 51 percent of votes due to the crowded field of eight contenders. At the end of election night, Dr. Muizzu emerged as the front-runner with 100,959 votes (46 percent), followed by Solih with 85,809 votes (39 percent), Ilyas with 15,528 votes (7 percent), Umar with 6,348 votes (2.9 percent), and Qasim with 5,535 votes (2.5 percent). The remaining two candidates, Faris and Zameel, garnered only a small fraction of the votes.
As a result, the Maldives is now set to witness a second round of voting, pitting MDP leader Ibrahim Mohamed Solih against the PPM-PNC coalition's candidate, Dr. Mohamed Muizzu. The key question that looms is whether these parties will seek to form coalitions with other political entities, a development that many are eagerly watching as the election heads into its next chapter.