With a historically low 75 percent voter turnout and a historically high eight candidates contesting, the first round of the 2023 Presidential Elections has also seen many other reversals and upheavals.
In the lead up to the initial round of polls, Qasim Ibrahim, leader and presidential candidate for the Jumhooree Party (JP), had touted his ‘key role’ in previously securing election victories through coalitions – twice with the Maldives Democratic Party (MDP) and once with the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) – as a final salvo in his arsenal, allowing him to align with any prospective incoming government.
However, Qasim saw his ‘kingmaker’ status stripped away as The Democrats and independent Umar Naseer pushed him out of his traditional third spot – a far cry from his usual pull in previous elections. With more than 22,000 registered JP members, Qasim garnered fewer than 6,000 votes, less than three percent, casting a looming shadow over his expressed belief of being the deciding factor should there be a second-round runoff. In stark contrast, independent candidate and former home minister Umar Naseer, who had had a much smaller campaign footprint, received more than 6,000 votes.
Not dissimilarly, the Maldives National Party (MNP), led by former Defence Minister – and MP for the Dhangethi constituency in Alifu Dhaalu Atoll – Mohamed Nazim, garnered less than 2,000 votes, despite his party having 9,838 registered members. He received a mere 14 votes from his constituency, yet was widely seen as one who had positioned himself as a presidential candidate well ahead of registrations being announced by the Elections Commission (EC). Speaking with local media, the retired colonel’s camp confirmed that they had failed, comparatively, to gain enough support through their campaign.
Malé Mayor Mohamed Muizzu, the PPM-endorsed People’s National Congress (PN) candidate, and incumbent President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the MDP candidate, having garnered the most votes in the first round with 46 percent and 39 percent respectively, will compete for the nation’s top job in the second-round run-off of the presidential elections on 30 September.
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