Parliament passes Anti-Defection bill


Parliament passed Anti-Defection bill aimed at preventing MPs from switching parties after being elected on a party ticket. The bill, proposed by Baarah MP Ahmed Abdulla on behalf of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), received 33 votes in favor and six against during today’s session.

The bill, which contains 10 provisions, underwent three amendments by a committee. Interestingly, all seven members of the reviewing committee were MDP MPs, as other parties declined to participate.

During the session, Addu Maradhoo MP Ibrahim Shareef raised a concern, stating that a minimum of 44 MPs should be present in the chamber for the bill to be voted on. However, Speaker Mohamed Aslam, presiding over the session, responded that he had proceeded with the vote after consulting Parliament’s Secretariat.

The bill’s Article 3 focuses on disqualifying MPs who switch parties. If an elected MP changes their party affiliation, Article 3 mandates their resignation. Originally, Article 3(d) required a yes or no referendum in the MP’s constituency if they were expelled from their party or joined a different one. However, the committee decided to remove this requirement, allowing MPs the option to file a court case within seven days instead. If the court rules against the MP, they must resign upon Parliament being informed by the Elections Commission (EC).

Additionally, if no court case is filed, the MP must resign once Parliament is informed by the EC. Furthermore, a provision mandating independent MPs to resign after joining a political party was also revised, considering the financial burden and logistical challenges associated with holding by-elections.

The bill’s ratification by President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu remains uncertain, though he shared his perspective on the matter in a recent interview. He emphasized the importance of MPs staying loyal to the party they were elected under, highlighting that parliamentary membership is based on advocating certain party policies.

It’s worth noting that a similar anti-defection law existed in the past, which immediately stripped MPs of their seats if they changed parties. However, this law was repealed after opposition parties gained the majority in Parliament following the 2018 presidential election, with former President Abdulla Yameen ratifying the repeal.