The elections prove one thing: the Maldives electorate is yet to mature. The outcome of the election was more or less decided on November 9th, when – despite all the ugly episodes that played out in full public view – the public actually rewarded Abdulla Yameen with a slightly increased vote share.
It was clear that a large section of the public was not going to be swayed by an actual manifesto, or promises of justice, and police and judicial accountability.
President Nasheed handsomely won all the major population centers, resorts and foreign boxes. However, it is clear from the results that there is still another Maldives. A more isolated, isolationist, xenophobic and paranoid Maldives that is still susceptible to dangerous emotive politics.
It is remarkable that this victory was pulled off on the back of exaggerated anti-Nasheed rhetoric with strong Islamist and hyper-nationalist overtones, as opposed to any realistic development plans or policies.
This rhetoric was often of fantastic nature – ranging from evil Christian Westerners and Freemasons trying destroy Islamic unity in the Maldives, to Nasheed attempting to build temples for GMR staff and other such absurdities. Yet, it found resonance among a large section of the population. Voting for ‘dheen’ and ‘qawm’ became the catchphrase for the anti-Nasheed voters, although it isn’t immediately clear what exactly Abdulla Yameen has ever done to protect or uphold either. [Read more on Minivan News]
[First published on Minivan News on 17 November 2013]