The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and The Democrats, former political rivals, have joined forces to tackle crucial issues facing the nation.

In an unprecedented move, the two parties, which together hold 55 seats in the 87-member Parliament, announced their commitment to collaborate on several key matters, including limiting the size of Parliament, regulating state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and curbing the number of political appointees by governments.

The primary concern addressed in their joint press conference on Wednesday is the exponential growth in the number of Members of Parliament (MPs) and parliamentary constituencies. 

Currently, the Maldivian Parliament has 87 seats, but the next Parliament in 2024 is projected to expand to 93 seats. The MDP and The Democrats argue that such unlimited growth requires a thorough review. To tackle this issue, MPs from both parties have called for an extraordinary parliamentary session to commence work on necessary legislation and constitutional amendments.

In a prior attempt to address the issue, The Democrats submitted a constitutional amendment bill in 2023, which was ultimately rejected by the MDP-led majority in Parliament. The bill proposed allocating a percentage of parliamentary seats to female MPs and halting the increment of seats based on population growth.

During the voting process after the preliminary reading of the bill, only 12 MPs supported it, while the remaining 38 members voted against it. The proposed amendment aimed to maintain the maximum number of MPs in Parliament at 76.

The amendment suggested a Parliament composed of 55 members representing constituencies. Additionally, it proposed electing two members to represent individuals with special needs and 11 members to represent political parties based on their vote composition. The amendment also mandated the appointment of eight female MPs to represent all constituencies in the Maldives.

 The joint press conference saw prominent members from both parties expressing their concerns. MDP chairperson Fayyaz Ismail and Deputy Speaker of Parliament MP Ahmed Saleem, representing the MDP, were joined by MP Hassan Latheef, President of The Democrats, and MP Ali Azim, Parliamentary Group Leader of The Democrats.

The Democrats originated as a breakaway faction from the Maldivian Democratic Party, emerging after former MDP members, loyal to former President Mohamed Nasheed, lost the party primaries for the 2023 presidential elections.

Both MDP and The Democrats have been bitter rivals, causing a significant parliamentary deadlock throughout most of 2023.

This historic collaboration, which marks the first time since the defeat of the MDP-led government in the 2023 presidential elections that the two parties have joined forces, signals a significant shift in the political landscape of the Maldives and could potentially lead to substantial reforms within the parliamentary system.