Thursday, October 9, 2008

Maldives has decided, but what?

The results of the first phase of Presidential Election 2008 would have surprised those who thought with their hearts, but perhaps not those who thought with their brains. The most striking result of the election is that Maumoon Abdul Gayoom is still the most popular leader in the Maldives. But this is something that should have been obvious to anyone who analyzed things rationally.

Gayoom is easily the most marketed product in the Maldives with brand recognition almost universal among all age groups from toddlers to oldsters. In each of the 200 odd inhabited islands he has a group of loyal supporters among the island administration and women's development committees who would campaign for him. Even if they manage to recruit 100 voters in each island, the total would up to 20,000 votes. Considering all this, the result is not surprising at all.

The purpose of this article however is not to explain the results, but to analyze what they mean and see if there are any lessons for the second phase. Already the main political parties are staking their claims and counter claims about the results. Let us take some of these claims and see to what extent they are justified.

Is Gayoom the most popular politician?

  • This claim of DRP is justified considering the 40.6% votes he polled against 25.1% by his nearest rival.

  • Part of the reasons for his success is discussed above. The other reason was perhaps other candidates devoted more time on negative campaigning against Gayoom rather than promoting themselves positively. Perhaps there is a lesson in this for Anni in the second round campaign.

Are 60% of Maldivians opposed to Gayoom?

  • This is not necessarily true. In this poll citizens primarily voted positively for who they thought was best. To take the converse and say all those who did not vote for Gayoom were opposed to him is to stretch the imagination a bit too much.

  • To illustrate how dangerous it is to interpolate poll results to other situations, let me present a historic example. At the end of 20th Century, sports journalists and experts voted to decide the all time greatest sports personality. In this poll boxer Muhammad Ali won after beating the likes of Pele, Maradonna and Don Bradman ( So when it came to the next poll to decide who the boxing all time personality was, one would have thought Muhammad Ali would win easily. But he was beaten to that spot by another boxer, Sugar Ray Robinson ( This left a very funny situation: Ali was the greatest among ALL sportsmen, but in his own sport boxing he was only second best.

If the opposition fielded a unified candidate, would he have won?

  • This claim is based on the total of about 60% polled by all opposition candidates. The claim may not necessarily be true. Supposing Anni was the unified candidate, many of Hassan Saeed's Addu supporters may not have voted for Anni. The same could also be true for Adhaalat party supporters who voted for Qasim.

  • So, Hassan Saeed and Qasim were crucial in chipping away at Gayoom's share of votes. Without that Gayoom could perhaps have gone through in the first round itself. Ironically opposition disunity may have saved the day for them.

Will all the 40% who voted for Gayoom in the first round also vote for him the second round?

  • This is not necessarily true. The results of the first phase have changed the situation quite radically. For example, for many of the 40% who voted for Gayoom, he was perhaps a towering and impregnable figure, an image that could have played a part in their decision to vote. The first phase results have dismantled that image and now he looks more vulnerable. This could affect the voters negatively.

  • Some of the 40% may have preferred Gayoom because the opposition was bitterly divided in the first round and were quarrelling among themselves. This has changed now and so some voters may re-think their original decision.

Is Ibra finished as a politician?

  • This is not necessarily true. The number of votes he polled is probably not a true indication of his popularity. In this election many voters probably avoided voting for him believing he did not have a winning chance. In a hypothetical one to one context with Hassan Saeed or Qasim, Ibra could spring a surprise.

How did Umar outperform a high profile politician like Ibra?

  • The reason could be his unique agenda for implementing Sharia law for drug smugglers and other criminals.


Anonymous said...

I voted for hassan but now i ll vote for maumoon cuz he is the secound best candidate.

Adhaalathu oriyaan kuraa site said...

Ibra humiliated himself coz of the childish babble in supreme court

Now Adhaalath party is in a dilemma.They will have to order Anni to get 4 wives if he needs Adhaalath's support

Anonymous said...

I did not vote Ibra, exactly for the reason you mentioned.

Ibra is a good man and an honest politician with a proven track record. But this election is too important to let gayoom win once again. For this reason I am leaning towards popularity.

Anonymous said...

almost in every elections wether riyasee or parlimentry, the decisive role is ultimately played by a few "influential" people in the community.The more you are clever to manipulate public opinion and know how to apply modern techniques to brainwash the mass, the more vote and support you`ll get. Take for example the case of conspiracy to murder our first democratically elected leader M. Amin. do you think it was carried out by the support and backing of all Maldivians or atleast majority of them.I do not believe so.what is the guarentee you have, that when Anni comes to the power, he would bring changes that will be of benefit to all Maldivians? yes, if the rule of law implemented fairly and properly some hope could be assocaited with, but again it would be a very subjective one as to what is just for you would not appear to another.however, for some people might get their due shares as has been the case with current regime.There will always some extra ordinary people who are more equal then others. This is how things work in politics. The preference will always be given to people who have supported and actively participated in the process of toppling previous governement with a pure camouflage lets wait and see the truth will emrge when it is too late to act.

Anonymous said...

Anni is saying this election has showed that 60% Maldivians doesn't want Maumoon as their president...If so, what about him? 75% Maldivians, 15% more than Maumoon, doesn't want Anni as their president.

Anonymous said...

I would vote for Janeey but not Maumoon.

Anonymous said...

I voted Ibra because for his track record, steadfastness and good political acumen. I knew he would not win many votes, but I felt compelled to vote him I believe this election should not be about merely removing Gayyoom.

For me Anni and MDP has been too wayward, have many times opted for political expediency rather than principles; they did some theatrics in the nomination of judges for the supreme court, which shows they cannot be trusted.

Now I have no choice but vote Anni and hope he defeats Gayyoom and things take care of theselves, in the aftermath.

st said...

excellent analysis. I'd say gayoom is gonna win the 2nd round by a 60/40 margin or thereabouts.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion there very slim chance to topple Qayyoom regime in current scenario. Thats to change the order of the ticket even now. Hassan Saeed and Anni should make a ticket of unified Maldives opposition backed by Gasim too. Because many moderate independents dont see Anni as a viable leader,or rather they see him as driving force for change and an activist. But still Hassan Saeed has the quality many likes because he is stronger in in his Islamic education as well as his ability in law and leadership.
If we loose this chance, Qayyoom will become more dictatorial and he will label the whole south from Huvadhoo to Addu who didn't vote for him as renegade states and will cut all the funding as he did in the past to Ha. Kelaa.

Faisal said...

What has been decided is quite clear- that the majority of Maldivians do not want Maumoon to lead the nation anymore. And the decision will be the same( but stronger) in the second round as well. Most voters had a clear idea whom to vote against in the first round, but faced bit of a difficulty to decide whom to vote for, mainly due to the number of choices they had. And when you have too many choices it is always difficult to decide, even when all the choices that you are presented with are similar.
The opposition now has one task- to try and unite the vote for change,and ask the voters not to vote for Anni, but to vote against Maumooon.

J said...

your articles are exceptionally insightful!

Vote for the oppossition said...

Dr Waheedh, a very good analysis.

Insha Allah, in the second round it will be a victory for Maldives,a victory for the essential and undeniable change the country is in need, not a victory for supporters of a particular candidate.

Anonymous said...

It is a difficult situation now as we could not decide. The question is to support Qayyoom in the second round or to support for change. I personally do not believe that Anni has presidential quality. But 25% of those who voted probably thought otherwise. I did not vote for him in the first round. It is obvious that Qayyoom is now blaming others for the 'time bomb' he created. I think that is too much to defend. I want a change and will vote for change and rather like to test Anni's ability to rule.

Thorig said...

Waheed, kudos to your efforts to keep an objective stance.

Two reasons why I’ve decided to support Anni-Waheed in the runoff:

1. New constitution has limited the powers of the President. Could the intended benefits of this be attained if Maumoon stays? I think not. My argument is, having had absolute power over most any aspect of every person or thing in this nation for 3 long decades has instilled in Maumoon some sort of ‘exo-power’ further to the powers he keep legally. It is the essence of his ‘Maumoon ness’ and is powerful and influential to anything that could be written in a piece of legislation. A new president is needed to break the ‘spell’, so to speak.

2. Maumoon’s team has better insight on how the government operates at various levels and where all sorts of incompetence and corruption lurk. If we give them the opportunity to work as the opposition, these multiple degree holders would finally start working more for us than against. We could start seeing some rationality within opposition. We know they’re an educated and capable lot (mostly) just in need to break away from a culture that clouds their conscience, no?

Anonymous said...

I think in Maldives we seriously put a clause in the constitution for the eligibility of voters over 18 with certain level of IQ, yesterdays result clearly shows something wrong with the IQ of 40% of the country, who cannot differentiate right and wrong.

Nazeer said...

Do we need to remind,advise and inspire the opposition candidates on the fruit of "win win" n "Synergy" fomula.In order to achieve this, we got to raise all individual party targets to a larger VISION(as opposed to their current ones). Be willing to address the sitaution in a pragmatic manner. Keeping the ego and emotions away and focus on the soluition required by all CHANGE agents and supporters. Create a foundation based on PRINCIPALS (good Values)as basic rules of engagement. We can do it if the required amount of positive energy and impact is created.
Allah! God Almighty will throw back their mockery on them and give them rope in their trespasses; so they will wander like blind ones (to and fro).
To Allah belongeth all that is in the heavens and on earth. Whether ye show what is in your minds or conceal it Allah calleth you to account for it. He forgiveth whom He pleaseth and punisheth whom He pleaseth. For Allah hath power over all things.

Nazeer said...

Not for posting: I made a link for you on my site
Kind regards

Mohamed Naahii said...

If all the opposition unites there is a very high chance gayyoom would not win. Here are the main reasons which i believe that Anni (Mohamed Nasheed) would get more support and win.

(x) It is now even expected that more and more support would be garnerd by the opposition because Anni has said that all the capable leaders of opposition such as Hassan Saeed, Gasim Ibrahim would be in his government. This would definitly boost his support because there are people who support gasim, hassan and ibra, they would surely give a thumbs up for Anni as they would see their candidates at top posts of the government eventually benifiting the whole country. We could now imagine a dream team consisting Former Finance Minister Gasim, Dr. Hassan Saeed, Dr. Shaheed, Mr. Ibrahim Ismail, Dr. Musthafa luthfee, Dr Jameel and other capable opposition leaders if Anni wins. These leaders have high popularities amongst the people

(x) We even can see Anni's sayings of an MDP led alliance also has become true. Though many have forgotton what happened to the National Unity Alliance, Anni had been campaigning with the label 'An MDP let Alliance' Since from the MDP Primary elections. This would even be a factor that he would gain more support. Remember that maldivians are known to always look at the words of politicians and how true those words become in the end. This would be a clear justification for them realise that Anni is living upto his words.

(x) Also Dr. Hassan himself said he would personally work to gain support for Anni. We shouldnt forget that he had been a very strong influence in the election (obviously winning 17% in election proves) and because of this, His loyal support and backing to anni plus anni's idea of including Dr.hassan's team in his government is a very tactical fomula, which would definitly bring a positive impact on the run off to Anni, Especially from addu atoll. Though there maybe people who would change their minds but this quantity would be less than those who would follow Dr. Hassan to support Anni.

(x) There is a so many people who want a change. So many people who want to see another leader. There are plenty of Maldivian people who want this regime to end. These would definitly opt for Anni as he is the only choice and their belief in change would even be strengthened because of the alliance of opposition candidates. Like waheed has said in his blog post, there will be people who would change their minds because of the uniting of the leaders.

(x) Also ongoing rumours would definitly have an impact on the way of thinking of people. Technically these rumours basically would be an advantage to the opposition than Gayyoom. Such rumours as two vice presidents of DRP joining opposition. Unless Gayyoom clearly justifies this rumours are false to the people, it would be an advantage for the opposition.

Due to these very important 5 factors that came up to my mind after personally doing a small analysis, Here is my bet. A bundle of sticks would be stronger than one individual stick. What i am trying to say is that If all the opposition Unites at this stage, Anni will definitly win if not, Just forget it, Gayyoom is setting a historical record of 35 years of rule in the Maldive Islands.

Anonymous said...

Lets bring David Hardingam as president.

Anonymous said...

Dr Waheed, excellent analysis.

I do not like the tone of some of those who has commented here, I fully agree that freedom of speech is a fundermental right, but at the same time they should not violate others right.

Some of you here calls the 40% (72000) people who voted for maumoon as ignorant and uneducated(who cannot differentiate right or wrong) thats a violation of their rights. If you call others wrong who do not belieive what you beleive is right, then certainly you are wrong NOT them.

The eye said...

I take a slightly different take on your analysis to the question about whether 60% is opposed to Maumoon. Yes, they did only vote for who was the best. But if you consider voting for a person other than maumoon as being opposed to maumoon, i think it is a fair statement - that there is 60% who do not want Maumoon.

Anonymous said...

a very good analysis by Dr. waheed..the results of the poll came as i had thought. so i guess i analysed with my brain and not my heart...but Dr. Waheed. i think you have left out some points. what will happen to to the vote of many who supposedly sold their vote for money? and that according to rumors is many..many of annis supporters say that lots of people in south voted for Maumoon because he distributed money.. if so will the same people vote for maumoon in the second round? similarly many of Gasims voters apparently voted for money.. so in the second round if maumoon gives money wouldnt they vote for him?
this business of voting for a few hundred rufiyaa is really a sad thing in our country.. its high time we stand against this and educate the public, specially the island people.. because from the number of stories i hear this cant be just brushed off as mere rumors.. some of these stories are true..
and another point is majority of those who voted for hassan saeed and ibra voted because they wanted change ..but with some principles. and they believed that hassan saeed (and ibra as well) has the background , education and the backing of people to bring the kind of change they wanted.. so now, even though hassan seed is backing anni, i know many of his supporters who are not going to vote for hassans share of votes will agian get divided between maumoon and anni and perhaps as non voters.
so when we consider these things there is a high possiibility that maumoon might win this election.

st said...

gayoom is gonna win this election because a lot of hassan saeed and gasim voters would say no to anni over gayoom. And no, its not because they are stupid. they have their reasons. The way i see it, the only fool proof way of ousting gayoom is for anni to withdraw from the contest. Hassan saeed can easily win over gayoom. Only Anni is to be blamed for a missed opportunity. It was a collapse in internal democracy that weakened MDP.

Anonymous said...

Selling and buying of votes is something much talked about these days. When we consider educating these people, most of them are drug addicts whose only concern is how to get the stuff for their next sniff. Educating them in this situation is close to impossible. In this situation some people may believe buying votes from them to defeat the corrupted rulers is justified. But I cannot agree to that. So, right now we are in a dilemma, I think. May Allah save us from corrupted rulers.

Anonymous said...

If the motive of opposition to unite is to ONLY to bring down Maumoon then they will be making a mockery out of politics,just as Maumoon did for 30 years.

I dont have any reason to beleive otherwise as Hassan Saeed who had a very good agenda/manifesto coming out and saying I will support Anni UNCONDITIONALLY. His Agenda and Anni's are compltely different

Anonymous said...

i agree that if the motive of the opposition is just to bring down maumoon its a sad thing. may be we should stand against this and let our voice be heard..because unlike a few activists in MDP, what majority of people really want is a change for the better. and that does not simply mean bringing down maumoon. and not only drug addicts are selling votes. many people in the islands are doing it.

Anonymous said...

In the first round I have voted for Dr.Hassan, now I will go for Maumoon, the very reason because neither Anni nor Waheed can lead a Friday prayer as Imam in Maldives.Waheed is a kind of person likes wine at his dinner table, while Anni likes to favor all western ideologies.

Anonymous said...

What if anni steps down to give way for hassan saeed. It doesnt portray that he has lost , definitely anni has WON his fight.... But what if they play the game as how the people wants. As an MDP activist i truly trust MDP and as someone who values what anni has done for the country i wud vote for hassan saeed if he challenges maumoon and so wud 90% of ANnis vote and give or take 30% of Gasims supporters.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure Anni can lead a Friday Prayer too. But in this day and age, we don't necessarily need a president who supposedly has PHD is each studious subject. What we need is someone who can bring young professionals in to the right posts and lead forward as a leader. I will vote for anni, not because I like him. BUT BECAUSE IF I VOTE FOR ANNI THIS TIME, THEN I'M MORE LIKELY TO BE ABLE TO VOTE FOR MY CHOICE OF PRESIDENT IN THE NEXT ELECTION. WHICH IS HASSAN, OBVIOUSLY! I see a much darker nation if Maumoon wins.

Anonymous said...

Guys we should get more votes for the MDP Alliance from Resort employees who voted for Gayoom. Specially the old timers the vote for Gayoom. Convince them why not to vote for Gayoom.

We must aim our campaign to the Army and police forces and their families; we must get their votes so that we could win the election.

Also the Alliance Campaign should aim at Atoll councils and Island Council to get their support. Caz these are the people who campaign for Gayomm and involved in the vote buying activities. Educate them and tell the why not to vote for Gayoom. Tell them not to sell their children’s future so that Gayoom extended family can live a corrupt and lavish life at the expense of us/the state.

People pls campaign and talk to friends/distant relatives/family members and neighbors so that we get every vote and beat the dictator.

Everyone Pleases pass the message.

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