The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) to the Maldives released its comprehensive report on the 2023 presidential elections held on 9 and 30 September. The report follows an extensive eleven-week observation in the country, initiated at the request of the Maldivian authorities.

Chief Observer Nacho Sánchez Amor, a Member of the European Parliament, commended the technical proficiency and professional conduct of the Elections Commission of Maldives (ECM) in administering the election. He highlighted the inclusive nature of voter and candidate registration processes, noting a record number of eight candidates. 

However, Amor pointed out significant shortcomings, including the underrepresentation of women in political roles and election administration, as well as prevalent vote-buying and misuse of public office, which he said compromised the campaign’s equity and fairness.

The EU EOM identified issues with transparency and effective oversight in political and campaign fundraising and financial expenditures. The mission also noted the political bias in media coverage, including state-run media, and instances of information manipulation on social media.

To enhance future elections, the EU EOM proposed 20 recommendations. These include improving civic and voter education to address vote-buying, reforming campaign finance laws, providing professional training for journalists, supporting fact-checking initiatives, promoting women in leadership, and ensuring clarity in ballot paper validation.

Amor expressed hope that these recommendations would be considered by national authorities and electoral stakeholders, particularly in the context of the forthcoming parliamentary elections. 

He stressed that these recommendations aim to uphold fundamental principles like fairness and equity in elections and respect for political rights. The EU, he stated, stands ready to support Maldivian electoral stakeholders through political dialogue and other engagements.

The EU EOM’s mission in the Maldives, comprising 40 observers from 18 EU Member States and partner countries including Canada, Norway, and Switzerland, was conducted from 31 July to 15 October 2023, following an invitation from the Maldivian Elections Commission and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.