The 19th People’s Majilis was marked by promises of a new era of parliamentary harmony, following the resounding supermajority secured by the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party in the 2019 parliamentary elections. 

The 67 seats it secured out of the 87 seats meant that the ruling party easily had the power to even make constitutional changes which require a two-third majority of votes. However, as politics often dictates, the practical realities of governance proved that matters are rarely as straightforward as they seem.

In the past year and a half, internal divisions within the MDP have given rise to clashes and impassioned confrontations, impeding the essential legislative responsibilities entrusted to them.

As the final session of this year’s sittings began earlier this week, this stalemate couldn’t be more evident. The preceding recess saw the initiation of two no-confidence motions against the Speaker, former President Mohamed Nasheed, and his deputy, Eva Abdulla. 

Vice-Speaker Eva Abdulla presiding over a parliament sitting (Photo: People's Majlis)
Vice-Speaker Eva Abdulla presiding over a parliament sitting (Photo: People’s Majlis)

These motions sprang from mounting discord within the MDP, where supporters of Nasheed and incumbent President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, both participants in the party’s primaries for the presidential elections, exhibited opposition towards one another.

The preceding session bore witness to notable disruptions within the parliamentary proceedings, and during the interim, the MDP lost its supermajority, with 14 MPs breaking away to establish a new party, subsequently acquiring minority control over the parliament.

The last session saw strategic manoeuvrers from the minority faction, aimed at obstructing the progress of the no-confidence motions. This included both the Speaker and Deputy Speaker refraining from chairing sessions, asserting that their involvement would be compromised due to the pending motions.

Members inside the chamber during a sitting of the parliament (Photo: People's Majlis)
Members inside the chamber during a sitting of the parliament (Photo: People’s Majlis)

Per parliamentary protocol, the composition of committees and the allocation of time for debates, motions, and legislation hinge upon the political makeup of the parliament. However, MPs from both sides have hindered the process of realigning committees based on the new distribution of political parties, leading to legislative deadlock for weeks.

Upon the parliament’s return for its penultimate session prior to an impending election, there was a collective hope that these complications would be set aside for the collective welfare of the citizens they serve. 

Unfortunately, the impasse endures, with both sides resorting to fresh tactics to prolong the deadlock. Members who have switched allegiances are delaying the protocol-bound notification to the secretariat of their new political affiliation. Simultaneously, the majority faction is disrupting proceedings by challenging the legitimacy of the session chairs’ actions.

Members inside the chamber during a sitting of the parliament (Photo: People’s Majlis)

In the background, a handful of minority members representing opposition parties observe the unfolding events. Former Defense Minister and MP for Maduvvari Constituency, Adam Shareef, proposed that if these procedural challenges persist, security forces may need to intervene to ensure the proper functioning of the legislative body.

Observers remark that the motives underlying the impasse remain unclear, particularly in light of the impending election of a new parliament within the next six months. As the nation prepares to head to the presidential polls on 9 September, political analysts caution that the resolution to this deadlock remains elusive.