State and politics
The Maldives became independent in 1965 and were then
sultanate. Three years later, the country was proclaimed
Islamic Republic, and a new constitution was adopted. After
decades with an authoritarian system in which political
parties were not allowed, a democratic constitution was
approved in a 2007 referendum and came into force in 2008.
It is inspired by the US Constitution with a strong
executive presidential power and a clear divide between
legislative, executive and judicial.
The president, who must be a Sunni Muslim, is head of
state and government as well as commander-in-chief and is
elected in general and direct elections. The term of office
is five years and a president is allowed a maximum of two
Parliament, the people's majlis, has the
legislative power and consists of 87 members who are elected
by majority vote in one-man constituencies. After the 2014
election, four of the members (5 percent) were women. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how MV can stand for Maldives.
The new constitution allowed for a peaceful shift of
power in 2008, when former political prisoner Mohamed Nashid
was able to defeat Maumun Abdul Gayum (born 1937) in the
second round of elections. Gayum had been in power since
1978. However, the democratization of the Maldives has
contributed to a turbulent domestic political situation
characterized by divisions between parties and candidates,
contested elections and popular protests.
In the 2013 presidential election, Nashid received 45
percent of the vote in the first round of elections. The
election was approved by international observers, but the
second round was postponed following a decision by the
Supreme Court, which subsequently also annulled the result
of the first round. The re-election resulted in a victory
for Nashid (47 percent of the vote) but he failed to get 50
percent in the decisive round. New President thus became
Gayum's half brother Abdulla Yamin (born 1959).
In the following years, Yamin strengthened his grip on
power by silencing or in various ways disposing of political
opponents. In 2015, Nashid was sentenced to 13 years in
prison for violating the country's terrorist laws when in
2012 he dismissed and allowed to arrest the chief judge of
the criminal court. In 2016, Nashid was allowed to seek care
in the United Kingdom and was granted asylum there.
Opposition to Yamin, however, also occurred within the
president's own party, the Maldives Progressive Party (PPM),
which won the 2014 parliamentary elections. The same
happened to Gayum, who also stood on the opposition's side.
Yamin also announced a state of emergency.
Despite the regime's repressive measures against
opposition and the media, Yamin lost the presidential
election held in September 2018. Ibrahim Muhamed Solih (born
1962), who supported a large part of the opposition,
received 58 percent of the vote against 31 percent for Yamin,
the largest victory margin in a presidential election since
the introduction of democracy. Yamin appealed the result to
the Supreme Court, which however approved the election.
Solih was sworn in as new president in November. The change
of power led, among other things, to the suspension of the
prison sentence against Gayum and that Nashid could return
from his exile.
Maldives for an alliance-free foreign policy and is a
member of various international organizations and
associations, such as the UN, but left the Commonwealth in
2016 after criticizing the human rights violations of the
then regime. It gained full control of its territory in
1976, when the last British soldiers left the country. A
year later, the Soviet Union's request to lease a military
base was rejected. The diplomatic relations with India are
close and friendly, and in 1988 Indian troops helped defeat
a coup attempt against President Gayum.
The low-lying Maldives, where the average height of the
sea is only a few meters, is one of the countries in the
world that is mainly threatened by the rise of the sea
surface as a result of global warming. In the 2000s, the
Maldives has become the language pipeline for low-income
developing countries and in a number of international
contexts has been strongly appealing to the industrialized
countries to drastically reduce emissions of carbon dioxide
and other greenhouse gases.
The legal order is largely based on Islamic law. The
death penalty remains in the penal code but is de facto
abolished in 1952.
Heads of State
||Amir Ibrahim Nasir
||Maumun Abdul Gayum
||Mohamed Wahid Hassan
||Ibrahim Muhamed Solih