The Democrats, with 7% claim victory

Former president Mohamed Nasheed with members of his family. (Photo / Social media)

The Democrats on Saturday night claimed victory to their name as temporary results poured in for the 2023 Presidential Elections, despite their candidate Ilyas Labeeb landing only 7 percent of votes. 

According to the temporary results, the leading candidate, Dr Mohamed Muizzu from People’s National Congress (PNC) received over 46 percent votes, and is followed by incumbent President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih from Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) with 38.52 percent votes. Meanwhile Democrats were able to attain only 7.41 percent. 

MDP has lost a significant number of votes to PNC, and supporters of Democrats have started celebrations on Twitter, claiming that they have won. 

The newly branched out party from MDP heavily criticized the claims that they would “survive without President Nasheed”. They also claim that this was the result of falsifying the results of MDP’s primary. 

President Solih’s results were compared to Nasheed who in 2013 scored 48 percent votes just by himself, and former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom in 2018 also contesting on his own landed 42 percent of votes. 

“Contesting in 2023 in a coalition and tipping the entire government towards the election also landed just 38 percent,” said Ungoofaaru MP Mohamed Waheed. 

Democrat's crystal clear motive 

The Democrats is a relatively small and new party that emerged from MDP after Nasheed and those who supported him did not accept the results of the party’s presidential primary. At the time, they accused of unfairly dismissing over 30,000 members from MDP, majority of whom support Nasheed. 

Nasheed and the party leadership then began their mission to increase membership. As per the Election Commission (EC) statistics, currently The Democrats have 3,280 registered members. 

While it was widely assumed Nasheed will be the one representing the party in the elections, a single member  put forth his name for the primary - Ilyas Labeeb. He recieved party ticket, with 94 percent approval, including the full support of Nasheed. 

Throughout their formation, and campaign lead upto the elections, the party remained highly critical of President Solih, MDP and the current administration. This was also noted during the presidential debate when most of the comments from Ilyas was targeted at the president and the government. 

Nasheed famously said that he would break up MDP during the ceremony held for his signing with Democrats. The video clip of which went viral and has become a well known phrase within the political context of Maldives. 

While some questioned how a minority party would lead the elections, the party remained steadfast on its claims. Questions were also raised on whether the only motive behind them contesting the election was to divide up the vote MDP could be getting. 

The answer to this is quite clear now. 

President Solih just 8 percent behind 

MDP, which said Dr Muizzu is no challenge to them, remained 8 percent behind him. 

Divisions within MDP caused them to lose a fraction of votes to Democrats. 

This is the reason Democrats are rejoicing and claiming victory. Their purpose in this election was to cut that fraction of votes from MDP. That is their win. Not the election.