Three hundred eighty-one candidates have officially submitted their nomination papers for the upcoming parliamentary elections, according to the Elections Commission of Maldives (EC). The nomination process concluded at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, with 86 candidates filing their papers on the final day.

The commission is in the process of verifying the nomination papers, as confirmed by Ismail Habeeb, the Vice Chairman of the EC. The election, initially scheduled for 17 March, is now set to be postponed due to an amendment to the Elections (General) Act. The amendment necessitates a post-Ramadan date for the election, which can only be held ten days after the conclusion of Ramadan. The new election date will be announced following the ratification of the amendment by President Mohamed Muizzu, said Habeeb.

The ruling coalition of the People’s National Congress (PNC) and the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) has fielded the highest number of candidates for the upcoming elections, with 90 candidates. They are closely trailed by the main opposition, the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), which has submitted nomination papers for 89 candidates.

The Democrats, an offshoot of the MDP, have submitted nomination papers for 41 candidates. In addition, 47 independent candidates, endorsed by former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom, have also filed candidature. This move is seen as groundwork for his new political party, the People’s National Front (PNF), which is currently in formation. Other political parties contesting the upcoming election include the Jumhooree Party (JP), Adhaalath Party (AP), Maldives Development Alliance (MDA), and Maldives National Party (MNP).

In an interview with a local media outlet, Fuwad Thowfeek, the Chairman of the EC, observed a notable decrease in the number of nomination papers submitted for the parliamentary elections. This figure starkly contrasts with the typical candidate turnout of approximately 450-500 in previous election cycles.

The EC has announced that the sequence of candidates on the ballot papers will be determined on 16 February. Candidates who have filed nomination papers have until 2 p.m. on 16 February to withdraw their candidacy. The registration period for candidates’ representatives will close on 23 February, according to the timeline revealed by the commission.

The tenure of the incumbent 19th parliament, comprising 87 lawmakers, is set to conclude on 28 May 2024. The 20th parliament will see increased representation with the addition of six constituencies, bringing the total number of seats to 93. The new constituencies include Central and North Hulhumalé, Hithaadhoo, Huraa, Kolamaafushi, and North Feydhoo.