The Democrats have introduced a bill seeking to amend the Constitution to facilitate the recall of parliamentary representatives by the electorate. Submitted on Tuesday by Hassan Latheef, President of the Democrats, the legislation aims to establish a formal process for voters to petition the recall of their MPs under specific circumstances.

The proposed amendment to Article 73 of the Constitution introduces an additional clause outlining conditions under which parliamentarians may lose their seats. These conditions include situations where an MP elected on a party ticket voluntarily leaves their party, joins another party, or is expelled from their party in accordance with party charter for violating a party whip. 

It also encompasses scenarios where an MP elected as an independent candidate joins a party or where an MP, for reasons other than violation of a party whip, is expelled and subsequently removed by a majority vote in a recall election. 

This recall election would be initiated after a parliamentary committee reviews and approves a petition signed by a specific percentage of the constituency’s voting population.

This legislative proposal by the Democrats closely follows the submission of an anti-defection bill by their ally, the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), last month. 

The MDP’s bill, was designed to curb political defections and enhance the accountability of elected officials by instituting automatic disqualifications for MPs who switch political affiliations. 

The discourse surrounding this bill highlighted a critical concern regarding the balance between party authority and the democratic right of the electorate to determine their representation.

The Democrats’ proposal to amend the Constitution reflects a significant step towards empowering voters, ensuring that MPs remain true to their electoral mandates, and providing a democratic remedy for constituents dissatisfied with their representatives’ allegiance shifts. By introducing the possibility of a recall vote, the Democrats aim to address concerns over the potential misuse of anti-defection laws and reinforce the principle that the powers of the state are vested in the citizens, as stated in Article 4 of the constitution.