Maldives Political System

According to, with capital city of Male, Maldives is a country located in Southern Asia with total population of 540,555.

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. See for accommodation in Maldives.

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 terms.

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


1968-78 Amir Ibrahim Nasir
1978-2008 Maumun Abdul Gayum
2008-12 Mohamed Nashid
2012-13 Mohamed Wahid Hassan
2013-18 Abdulla Yamin
2018- Ibrahim Muhamed Solih