By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan
The final results of the local council elections have not yet been announced. But the trends are clear. While the MDP of President Nasheed has swept the polls in the two cities of Male and Addu, the opposition DRP had taken a slender lead in the over all results.
The important point to note is that the colour of the MDP ( yellow) has not faded as predicted by the former President Gayoom and has in actual fact added some lustre to it.
In view of vast distances and lack of communications, local decentralised administration for democratic governance has been central to the new constitution and has been explained in some detail in chapter 8 of the Constitution.
There were fears that due to the complexity of the elections and low voter education, the local elections may not be a success. There were also fears that violence may erupt at many places. These fears were found to be baseless.
The elections were monitored by the NGO “Transparency Maldives” and there were also two observers from the Commonwealth.
In all 4400 candidates stood for elections to 1100 posts across the islands, atolls and city councils for Male and Addu. In the case of Addu, the Supreme Court had to overturn a decision of the civil court and that of the Election Commission not to conduct the polls on administrative grounds.
The MDP won nine of the 11 seats in Male and all the six in Addu. In the local councils outside the two cities- the current trends are – DRP leading in 449, followed by MDP in 381 and then by independents- 164. All other parties together lead in 28 seats in all.
President Nasheed is said to have congratulated the MDP President Ibrahim Hussain Zaki, Chairperson Mariya Ahmed Didi and the Parliamentary leader Moosa Manik. On the party’s success.
Two days prior to the election, opposition leader Thasmeen Ali had declared that the upcoming local election was a good opportunity that the people should not miss to show that the government had failed. He also added that the election would show the shortcomings and “evil intentions”of the government domestically and internationally too. This however did not happen. On the other hand the image of the government has gone up in that it could conduct the local elections as promised in a free and fair manner and also confirming its intent to extend democratic governance to far off islands which Maldives had never experience before.
One curious aspect of the present election was that former president Gayoom jumped into the fray despite an unwritten deal he had made with the administration. Some say that he did it to support his associate Umar Naseer the ousted deputy leader of his party. It was he who proclaimed that the yellow had faded- that democracy has been hijacked and that democratic rule is absent etc. He is hardly the person who should be making such comments. Now that the DRP did not succeed, he should be regretting his action.
The present elections have also shown that other parties are losing their relevance and the main competition in the near future may only be between the MDP and the DRP.
Decentralisation is going to cost the country considerable amount of expenditure particularly now when the country is facing an economic crisis. But it is worth it, in the interest of the well being of the communities that are geographically far away from the capital.