As the Maldivian presidential election heads for a second round on September 30, discussions about potential coalitions are intensifying in the political corridors of Male’.

The provisional results have set the stage for a run-off between Dr Mohamed Muizzu of the People’s Progressive Party-People’s National Congress (PPM-PNC) and incumbent President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). The political calculus is now significantly dependent on the potential alliances that could be formed.

The MDP’s Coalition Gambit

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih has expressed his intent to form a coalition, acknowledging the necessity for broadening his support base after securing only 39% of the votes.

In a veiled invitation, Solih indicated his willingness to collaborate with Parliament Speaker Mohamed Nasheed’s newly founded ‘The Democrats’ party. 

Nasheed was a key figure within the MDP before departing after a contentious presidential primary. Solih stated that “some things that were not understood” before and added that he would do what is necessary to form coalitions.

The Democrats: A Wild Card?

Ilyas Labeeb, representing the Democrats, secured over 6% of the vote, making the party a pivotal wild card in the upcoming run-off. Nasheed has made statements suggesting he might be open to a coalition with Muizzu, despite concerns over Muizzu’s alleged links to religious ‘extremist’ organisation Jamiyyat al-Salaf – allegations that Muizzu and his coalition have flatly denied.

PPM-PNC: Confident Yet Cautious

Dr Mohamed Muizzu, who secured 46% of the votes, is riding high on his electoral performance but remains cautiously optimistic. When asked about forming coalitions for the second round, Muizzu revealed that this would be discussed within his party leadership.

He is poised to become the first candidate to receive over 100,000 votes in the first round, reflecting a strong mandate that might make coalition-building easier for him.

Minor Players, Major Impact

Independent candidate Umar Naseer and Jumhooree Party’s Qasim Ibrahim, who secured 2.8% and 2.5% respectively, cannot be discounted. While Qasim’s influence has waned, Naseer could pitch himself as the candidate for Islamic values and anti-drug policies, potentially making him a coalition target for either main contender.

The Complicated Web of Alliances

With a record low voter turnout and shifting political alliances, the second round of the presidential elections is poised to be anything but predictable. All eyes are now on how these parties negotiate the delicate terrain of coalition politics, especially considering the broader geopolitical implications of the election in terms of Sino-Indian influence in the Indian Ocean.