The result of the recent election in the Maldives is likely to make a lot of politicians green with envy. From all accounts, it's a landslide win for President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP). Claiming around 60 of 87 seats in the Majlis or Parliament completely negates the need to stitch together yet another coalition, and the wheeling and dealing that it entails. It's also an unprecedented experience for a political party in the Maldives' evolving experiment in democracy. No party has ever been able to cross even 50 percent of the vote so far in a parliamentary election.
While Solih and Nasheed can now heave a sigh of relief, there are storm clouds ahead. The first of these is the question of propitiating coalition partners, who were after all responsible for bringing Solih to presidency last year. The MDP's decision to go it alone in the present parliamentary election has been seen as a betrayal of the trust placed in the quiet and dignified president. The Jamhooree Party (JP) of Gasim Ibrahim then decided to ally with Yameen's PNC and the Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) in a seat adjustment exercise together, a decision they are probably now bitterly regretting. The JP won five seats after fielding 41 candidates in a performance that was probably worse than that of Yameen's party.
For once, India has risen to the occasion. Following the fracas with China last year, and threats of intervention, New Delhi has stepped up smartly to not only provide budgetary support, but also sign agreements directed at assisting Maldives to support itself once again. Much of this is evident in the joint statement issued after the visit of Minister of External Affairs Sushma Swaraj last month. The key statement in that document was that "India stands ready to fully support the Government of Maldives in its socioeconomic development". That's the sort of thing Maldivian leaders like to hear. Especially when it is accompanied with a commitment of $1.5 billion as part of a financial assistance package. In return, Malé will sign on to India's growing maritime surveillance and security plans for the Indian Ocean. With Solih and his party now solidly in place, Indian purse strings are likely to be open even more, regardless of which government comes to power in Delhi. While India can justifiably celebrate the victory of Solih and the establishment of a stable government so close to Indian shores, the reality is that the Chinese yoke cannot be dispelled so easily, given the sheer extent of Chinese presence and influence. For Beijing, this is only a temporary setback, and before long it will again try to rope in members of the government, and more dangerously, high-level army elements. The politicisation of the army is something Malé has to quietly and tactfully deal with, and quickly.
Maldives will find itself in a pretty position of being pursued by both Beijing and New Delhi. For India, that means keeping up the engagement and assistance well into the next government, and not let its attention be diverted — which has happened often enough in the past. Chinese machinations on the archipelago will hopefully keep India 'engaged'.
Tags : #Maldives #Election #Results #Landslide #Victory #India #Good #Signs