Elections are the flashpoint events that give legitimacy to the democratic process. Ensuring they are free and fair bolsters the institutions of state and gives governments their authority. On 7 September close to 240,000 registered voters across the scattered islands in the Maldives will cast their votes in the second-ever multiparty presidential election.
The election comes after a year of political turmoil, which saw the former president Mohamed Nasheed step down from power under contentious circumstances in February 2012. The former president alleges he stepped down under duress in a coup d’état. That is why it is so important that the voting process is transparent, and free from intimidation and fraud.
To this end Transparency Maldives is conducting an extensive election monitoring operation and in the months before the vote undertook a pre-election survey to assess the robustness of the electoral process. The organisation deployed 26 observers to monitor if the campaigning phase has been fair and free of violence.
On Election Day more than 400 trained volunteers from Transparency Maldives, alongside 77 international election monitors, will monitor the 470 ballot boxes that are spread across the islands.
– Hussain Siraj, Transparency Maldives Board of Directors.
Transparency Maldives also recommended the establishment of an independent complaints tribunal. This will be important if there are any disputes following the vote, which is likely to be close.
There are four candidates: two have already held the post, a third is a businessman and the fourth is the brother of a former president. All believe they have a chance to succeed which is why none has tried to disrupt the process. The top two candidates will compete in a run-off election if no single candidate gets more than 50 per cent of the vote.
Mobilising civil society
Transparency Maldives’ election volunteers consist of diverse groups of people including, school principals, teachers, nurses and youth. All were trained and screened to ensure they are independent and nonpartisan. Transparency Maldives used its experience of observing past elections together with the technical advice from the National Democratic Institute to successfully mobilize a wide network of observers.
– Aruza Rasheed, election observer.
Election monitors at Transparency Maldives training session in Malé.
Transparency International’s 2013 Global Corruption Barometer found that in the Maldives three out of four people believe that political parties and the parliament are corrupt institutions and 69 per cent believe the judiciary is very corrupt. But an overwhelming majority of people – 84 per cent – believe that ordinary people can play a part in fighting corruption.
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