President Solih’s Second-Round Strategy: Learning from First-Round Mistakes

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President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih addressed the recent setback in the first round of the presidential election, expressing a commitment to identify the reasons behind the defeat and implement corrective measures and campaign changes to secure victory in the upcoming second round.

During meeting with members of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) national council, President Solih conveyed that discussions had transpired, and decisions had been reached regarding the rebooting of the campaign. He emphasized their dedication to resolving the issues detected in the first round, acknowledging their mistakes and the necessary corrections.

To bridge the gap with the leading candidate, Dr. Mohamed Muizzu of the Progressive Party of Maldives-People’s National Congress (PPM-PNC), President Solih recognized the need to secure more than 15,000 votes in the second round. He expressed optimism about ongoing efforts to improve their campaign’s results.

One notable misstep identified by President Solih was an excessive delegation of responsibilities in assigning constituencies. He noted that despite substantial campaign efforts, some aspects had faltered in the final days, affecting their performance.

In the initial round, President Solih secured 39 percent of the vote with 86,151 votes, while Dr. Muizzu led with 46 percent and 101,613 votes. The Democratic candidate, Ilyas Labeeb, finished third with 15,528 votes (seven percent), followed by Umar Naseer at 2.8 percent and Jumhooree Party leader Qasim Ibrahim with 2.4 percent.

President Solih admitted that low voter turnout and the inability to mobilize MDP supporters were primary challenges. He attributed this to administrative oversights and vowed to address these issues to strengthen voter engagement, specifically mentioning islands where MDP voters remained inactive.

The first round witnessed a record-low voter turnout of 79 percent, with 56,949 people abstaining from voting. President Solih also acknowledged that countering falsehoods spread by the opposition had proven challenging. He pledged full transparency and increased efforts to persuade voters, particularly in response to claims made during the opposition’s ‘India Out’ campaign.

Solih reassured the public that their campaign would debunk such claims, emphasizing that the Maldives’ independence and territory would not be jeopardized by his re-election. Furthermore, he mentioned receiving signals of support from other political parties, indicating potential alliances in the upcoming rounds of the election.