Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pointless Primaries


In recent party primaries for parliamentary seats, many winning candidates scored less than 100 votes. This is trivial, considering that a typical Majlis constituency averages about 5000 population and 3500 voters. The result would also be statistically insignificant because there is no valid sampling technique involved in the primaries to include the many subsets of voters in the constituency with varying backgrounds and beliefs. As such, the results of the primaries are unlikely to be predictive of the winning chances of a candidate. So it is not surprising that many losing candidates opt to fight the elections anyway as independent candidates.

The latest incident of this nature involves former Male Atoll member Donad Adam Fulhu's decision to contest the Gaafaru-Kaashidhoo seat of Male Atoll, despite losing the primaries to former Higher Education Minister Ibrahim Hassan (Chubby). The latter has reportedly left the fray in a huff. The case of former Information Minister Nasheed deciding to contest the Kulhudhuffushi South seat is somewhat different because he opted not to take part in the primaries, but his reasons to go it alone are probably similar.

This phenomenon is not limited just to DRP. Ruling party member and sitting MP Sanco Shareef has also decided to contest a Maafannu seat despite losing the primaries to Falah. This is not an isolated case as many other losing candidates from the party are rumored to be contesting.

What's interesting is that in most cases the 'rebel' candidates appear to be leading the 'official' candidates. The words 'rebel' and 'official' are enclosed within inverted commas here because there are reasons to believe that many of the so-called rebel candidates have the political and financial backing of senior party leaders. This is exactly what Chubby alleged in his statement while withdrawing from the contest. This phenomenon is also not limited just to DRP.

So, is there any point in holding party primaries? After all, neighboring countries like India do not hold primaries. Of course the Americans do. The question is: are we closer to India or to the US in terms of voter awareness and openness?

10 comments:

Nihan said...

Very good and researched article. Good work Dr. Waheed

Anonymous said...

A'cheerly we hv to follw de India model tody evn in policy plannin wile US iz diverting from corze wid reason. President thot he cud adopt British Parlimentally System and fayled then and foundoutnow only gold-plated CEO type works...and he lacks de calibre. So hez empowered by his czars and radicals...ppl like St. Baree n St. Fareed (absolete hohos)...

Anonymous said...

I wonder what the research in this was..

Anonymous said...

As far as the Majlis election is concerned, party system has failed. Everybody is going alone. If in the election party candidates do badly then that will be the end of political parties in the Maldives.

Anonymous said...

party primaries were dominated by thugs and gang organizers. People don't trust them.

Anonymous said...

just boycott the elections. all are good for nothing corrupts and parteys.

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr W
Primaries as they are conducted in populous democracies like US gives involves the voters, and the party delegates also jointly contribute to the decision during the Convention as we saw in Hilary vs Obama. Although Obama won the popular vote it was still left to the Democratic party to decide with senior super delegates reserving leverage for what is best for the party in terms of succeeding against a Republican candidate. The super delegates could have chosen Hilary Clinton if they had wanted to because she was competing closely with Obama and other considerations have to be thrown in like how much the hardcore women supporters of Hillary will shift vote to Senator McCain. However they strategically decided that Obama covers more angles.
Overall primaries provides the oppo to test the waters and adaptability of the candidate from the perspective of voters, voter issues, voter segments, party seniors etc.

How this is done in Maldives is very different and involves only the party members. As you rightly pointed the numbers of party members are too few to select the most appropriate candidate. Plus the candidate is not publicly tested so whether he will win finally is an open question.

I think primaries should occur but differently. In other countries the public gets an opportunity to see the rise of junior members to party ranks so the decision in primaries to party members or to the public is not tough. Conversely this is a testament to how our ‘democratic’ parties are run in Maldives.

Ubaid

Abdullah Waheed's Blog said...

To Ubaid:
Interesting post. I hope the leaders of parties would consider your suggestions.

Anonymous said...

Sanco has decided not to be a rebel candidate in return Anni has promised him a ministerial portfolio after the Majlis elections.Sanco wants to be Minister of Shipping.He hopes to bring back the glory days when we had over 60 ships.He blames Mawmoon for running down shipping industry.I don't agree with Sanco.Koli Ali Manik is the culprit.He did not change to container vessels when the World opted for container ships. Soon Koli found out that his fleet was an expensive and inefficient business heading for huge losses.

schwarz said...

The question here that really anyone should be really asking is does these primaries really bring in the required changes in the country. The current majlis is a joke; all the MP's are making a circus of it. What makes the next majlis any better? True, election reforms have been brought about by the changing of constitution. But there are so many gaps even a layman can exploit. And that is not a sign of an effective judicial system.

Count me out of the voting this time.