EU Election Observation Mission highlights rampant vote-buying and financial pledges.

In a preliminary report released by the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM), concerns have been raised over the impact of financial conduct on the recently concluded presidential election in the Maldives. The report notes that despite an efficient and professional organisation by the Elections Commission of Maldives (ECM), issues of vote-buying and financial pledges clouded the electoral process.

Both competing parties engaged in various forms of financial outreach to voters. Reports of systematic vote-buying were directed at both sides, affecting the free choice of the electorate. These allegations were not isolated instances but part of a broader landscape of voter suppression techniques. Voter groups, including the youth, expressed dissatisfaction with the political parties, further emphasising the negative impact of financial influences on public trust.

Both parties continued to make financial pledges to the electorate, such as waiving student loans, increasing salaries, and offering social welfare benefits. These pledges blurred the lines between campaign promises and outright vote-buying, raising questions about the integrity of the electoral process.

These issues were not limited to domestic boundaries. The EU EOM report states that campaigning also took place overseas, expanding the sphere of financial influence and raising further questions about accountability in campaign financing.

While the ECM intensified its public communication and engagement with political parties to address criticism, these efforts may not entirely mitigate the challenges posed by unregulated financial activities during the election.

The EU EOM, led by Chief Observer Nacho Sánchez Amor, continues to remain in the country to observe the remaining stages of the election. A final report, including full analysis and recommendations for electoral reform, is expected to be published later.