“The days to come will be difficult, we must stick together” Qasim Ibrahim.
Formed in March 2017, the four political parties, then opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s faction of the Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM), Jumhooree Party (JP) and Adhaalath Party (AP), agreed on seeking to protect the autonomy, people and independence that binds the Maldives as one.
Back when everything was about safeguarding the sovereignty of the nation and putting the people first, the four leaders worked in synchronization and did everything in their power to assure the coalition is maintained. While everything was initially going well for then opposition coalition, an election in September 2017 elected Ibrahim Mohamed Solih as the country’s seventh President, bringing then opposition coalition into power.
“It is not as easy to maintain a government as it is to win an election” said coalition leader Qasim Ibrahim, who was, prior to the election so sure that he would not the repeat the mistake of disbanding the joint coalition for a second time. Asserting that there is “much” the coalition needs to accomplish together as one, Qasim had then stated that the ideals for which the coalition had canvassed need to be upheld. He also stated that JP has no intention of disrupting the adherence of the four leaders, assuring the people of JP’s commitment to maintain their unity.
Parliamentary Election makes its appearance.
In November, the ruling coalition went into discussions to choose candidates for the parliamentary election. As per the agreement between the parties, MDP will be given 40% of the government, Jumhooree Party 25%, Gayoom’s breakaway faction of PPM 20% and Adhaalath Party 15%. This makes MDP eligible to contest for 35 seats in Parliament, JP for 22, Gayoom’s MRM for 17 and the remaining 13 for Adhaalath Party.
Soon enough, coalition leader of the main ruling party, Mohamed Nasheed made the decision to field candidates for all seats in parliament, with a motive to help undoubtedly fulfil President Solih’s pledges to the people. The point he wants to prove, crystal clear, is that if the MDP acquires Parliament majority, there will be nothing standing in the way of efficiently fulfilling President Solih’s pledges to the people.
The clever decision, could have been followed by the turn-out of events that overthrew his administration back in MDP’s first rule, when the ruling party could not attain majority in Parliament which in turn led to pledges remaining unfulfilled.
After the decision was announced, JP’s Qasim was thrown aback by the lack of consultation with other parties before Nasheed made the abrupt decision. In a much-anticipated fit of fury, Qasim accused the former President of sidelining his party by “throwing them out onto the street again”. Refusing to kneel for pleading, Qasim in turn announced that his party was ready to work with other parties.
Struggling on wafer-thin ice
With the wave of destruction threatening to break over the ruling coalition, Maldives Reform Movement’s Gayoom and Adhaalath Party’s Imran tightened their grip on the thread that was inevitably threatening to break.
“Our four parties joined together to establish a just and fair government, that fulfils the hopes of the Maldivian people. It is our primary duty to uphold the unity among our parties. I beseech my partners to put the interest of this nation before the interests of any individual party,” said the eldest of the four. Leader Imran backed Gayoom’s calls, reiterating on the urgency to preserve the coalition, seemingly struggling on wafer-thin ice.
Gayoom and Imran assured the people that they will work “tirelessly” towards strengthening the coalition government.
All the while, in complete calmness, Nasheed continues his assurance that the coalition will not collapse. With President Solih echoing his sentiments that MDP must attain majority, Nasheed remains seemingly undisturbed that his partners are not very much fond of his recent decisions and is in denial that the coalition may not be as stable as he claims it to be.
Nasheed asserted that MDP wholeheartedly believes in the agreement made with the coalition but that they did not make a particular deal on how the parties should run in the parliamentary election and that MDP's decision to run in all constituencies is in accordance with the wishes of the people.
While it all started when Nasheed decided to field candidates for all constituencies, Qasim’s perseverance to work with other parties added fuel to reports that the coalition is in fact, on the verge of collapsing, which Nasheed utterly dismisses.
Opposition unites as fresh new coalition.
After establishing a new political party under the name People’s National Congress, former President Abdulla Yameen formed a coalition with the party and his PPM, titled Progressive Congress, in early February. It has since given party tickets to 10 candidates to contest in the Parliamentary Election. The total of candidates to be fielded by the opposition reaches 63.
With the fresh new start for the opposition, in poured the reports that JP had begun discussing a possible alliance with the opposition. Reports surfaced that the coalition partner had gotten into talks with the opposition coalition to do everything necessary to ensure that MDP does not attain majority in Majlis.
Not long after, Qasim announced that his party now stands with the opposition congress. However, it cannot be deemed that the horse has officially bolted from the stables.
This was after he claimed that the coalition is, “still intact”. Qasim revealed his party’s decision to support parliamentary candidates of the Progressive Congress in March, a month before the elections. Qasim said that their 32 candidates have JP’s full support but that this decision was not part of any agreement made between them. He also said that the party’s main objective is to get more seats In Majlis and that their decision is a result of main ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) not respecting the agreement made initially.
Coalition leader, Gayoom, and JP's Deputy and Minister Waheed have since voiced discontent over Qasim's decision, stating that they will do everything to honor the government.
While Nasheed has made it clear that MDP must attain majority in Parliament, he has previously voiced his belief that business tycoons do not belong in government positions, his first ever jab at Qasim being through a speech in 2005, when Nasheed and Qasim were not deemed as the perfect partners.
With that being said, there are many voicing their concern over how the government coalition is certain to collapse and how they doubt coalition governments will ever work out. Although President Solih has been acting like the glue that holds the coalition partners together, will that be enough to hold the ruins together? Or are they just trying to push the water uphill with a rake? How in anyone's right mind can a ruling coalition work out once one of its partners back the opposition?