Maldivian Ruling Party Consolidates Power as Independent MPs Join Ranks

The Maldives' ruling party, PNC, has strengthened its grip on parliament, with 6 independent candidates joining its ranks, giving it a supermajority. This consolidation of power could shape the country's political and economic trajectory.

Mahnoor Jehangir
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Maldivian Ruling Party Consolidates Power as Independent MPs Join Ranks

Maldivian Ruling Party Consolidates Power as Independent MPs Join Ranks

The People's National Congress (PNC), the ruling party in the Maldives, has further strengthened its position in the 93-seat Parliament as six independent candidates elected in the recent polls have joined its ranks. With this move, the PNC-led coalition now commands a majority of 78 seats, exceeding two-thirds of the total seats.

The newly elected members of the 20th Parliament are set to take their oaths of office on May 28, 2024. In the parliamentary elections held on April 21, the PNC secured a majority of 66 seats out of 93. The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), which held a majority in the previous 19th Parliament, only managed to secure 12 seats this time.

Several independent candidates who contested with the endorsement of President Mohamed Muizzu also won seats, increasing the number of lawmakers backing the President to around 70. The election results brought significant changes to the political landscape, as neither the People's National Front (PNF) nor The Democrats managed to secure any seats.

Former Vice President of the Elections Commission Ismail Habeeb has stated that the six MP-elects who had signed to parties following the parliamentary elections do not violate any requirements of the Maldivian Constitution. He clarified that candidates who left the PNC to contest independently cannot be disqualified for rejoining the party, as they have not violated the constitution or the Anti-defection Act.

The Anti-defection Act, passed by the MDP's majority in the previous Parliament, allows for MP-elects to change parties without violating the Act as long as they do so within the time between becoming elected and swearing in as members of a new Parliament. However, the Act has caused confusion among legal professionals and parliamentarians, as it details additional conditions that might disqualify a member of Parliament from their seat, which is unconstitutional.

Why this matters: The consolidation of power by the PNC and its allies in the Maldivian Parliament is seen as a strong endorsement of President Muizzu's pro-Beijing foreign policy. The PNC's majority will give the party control over lawmaking and the legislature, potentially shaping the country's political and economic trajectory in the coming years.

Habeeb emphasized that as per the Anti-defection Act, the 20th People's Parliament had not yet begun, and any elected member had the opportunity to join a party of their choice before May 28. With the addition of the seven new MP-elects who have joined PNC, the ruling party will have a supermajority in the 20th Parliament without relying on the support of any other political parties. The new lawmakers include former PNC members who lost the party primaries but ran as independents with government backing.

Key Takeaways

  • PNC, Maldives' ruling party, gains majority with 78 seats in 93-seat Parliament.
  • 6 independent candidates join PNC, giving it a supermajority without other parties.
  • MDP, the previous majority party, secures only 12 seats in the new Parliament.
  • Anti-defection Act allows elected members to join parties before taking office.
  • PNC's majority strengthens President Muizzu's pro-Beijing foreign policy influence.