Why did MDP fail?
MDP without a doubt was one main reason for the multi party democracy that we see in this country. It is very difficult for me as a person to believe that this system would have come to us just like that without the kind of pressure that MDP or rather its members put on then the government. Where is MDP now? Why were they defeated not just in presidential election, but rather all the last 3 elections?
Here are various things I feel that went wrong within their system, especially during the 3 years in power.
Before that, let me make it clear. Some would argue that government was toppled by a coup. Coup or Not, is not what interests me here. The hard to accept fact remains and will always remain that, if one tries a coup and it goes well, surely that success would be the result of some wrong things on the other side too. With this assumption I will move ahead and will try to focus on areas where they had control.
1Civil Service Pay- A deduction of civil servants salary was, I believe wholeheartedly taken as an honest and reasonable economic measure by majority of civil servant. However, it was wrong and unacceptable to prolong the decision. Especially once the courts ruled out that the decision should not be prolonged any more, it was just an own goal by government. Well, Rule is rule and has to be abided, no matter which possession in government you hold. Failing to do it, lead to unwanted and avoidable hate towards MDP and its leadership. Especially among several civil servants, who were already getting comparatively low pay.
Playing with faith- At times even I use to ask myself if we are a 100% Muslim country. Yet, trust me, we are easy going people in this country, and we quiet often really hate to face some of the truths. It may be true that there are some who openly challenges or rather mocks some concepts of Islam or some are out there who claims to be atheists. However, WE, we I mean, the general Maldivians do not want our leaders to speak out against our long time beliefs and values. The Eye Camp with Israel doctors, the absence from a vote for Palestine in UN assembly, the attempt to make Dhivehi and Islam as optional subjects in higher secondary education are noticeable blunders or rather acts of MDP government, that many including MDP members stood against. Indeed each of them led to a chance for then the opposition to create more hate or rather doubts towards MDP among oppositions. Also many MDP members within the party had to look down simply because they were not happy with these acts. Some of the monuments of SAARC summit added to this. Even in this case, it was wrong for government to refuse to remove them, once their very Islamic Minister said it is against the religion to keep it.
3 Failing to empower the councils. The golden opportunity MDP got was the introduction of Island/ City and Atoll councils. This was the first time in history of the country that the decision making power was granted outside capital Male’. The government should have made sure that this power was given properly to the councils. Had they been given some more autonomy and resource to gain economic benefits, I am sure the support would have increase at an unprecedented rate. An island for every city or atoll council and the aid and support to attract some investments to guaranteed long term income to council would sure have resulted in them getting ever stronger. However, even in the councils with full MDP power, they continued to remain as, ‘servants’ of government rather than implementers of policies.
4 The activists out of control. True. Activists are the grassroots power of any political party. At least that is the system in Maldives. However, when the activist who was a room attendant in a resort or a tour guide in air port becomes a policy maker or a fisherman becomes a CEO in a government company, it is where things go wrong. Let me tell you one thing. I am not trying to let down the professions I mentioned above. My point is that jobs should be given on the basis of quality and not on the basis of how noisy your members are in the party activities.
5 Low support of security forces. At last, but not the least, MDP failed to gain the full support of the security forces in the nation. Well. It is obvious that it is difficult to gain it, after all your dealing with an era post 30years rule. However, it is possible. This is how at least one described, “Listen man. We were been dealt with the same situation for more than months. Every day, every night, we were been told how bad government was doing. Religious scholars kept telling us that it is our duty to stand against government. And that it is not allowed to follow MDP government orders. We were like indoctrinated with this thinking. I bet many of us. We were Muslims first. And How could you assume that those preaches by scholars and those statements that MDP was anti Islamic will not affect us? It will and it did. Now why didn’t you guys (the government and MDP) showed the opposite side to us? Why MDP didn’t repeatedly and more loudly kept saying that they were trying to brainwash? Why did you fail to carry our counselling sessions to the organisation regularly to bring back us to the track you wanted?” This is part of an hour long conversation between me and some of those who saw the event unfolding within the security forces. I guess I should stop in there for this point.
Well, that was too long a post. Yet, I tried my best to give a fare judgement to the topic I have taken. I wait to see the party system in Maldives grow as an effective, productive and economically viable system, with respect to our values and norms. I hope democracy and rule of law ever last in my lovely nation. And I hope MDP members have enough a tolerance to see someone saying see you failed in this area and you got to fix it if you want success.