Report: The Costly Economics of Parliamentary Elections in Maldives

As the fervour of the parliamentary campaign reaches its zenith in the Maldives, a glaring reality emerges from the shadows – the pervasive influence of money in politics. Candidates are purportedly spending exorbitant sums to secure victory, raising questions about the source and impact of such expenditures on the country’s economy.

The Economics of Campaign Spending

The price tag attached to winning a seat in parliament far surpasses the salary and allowances allocated to Members of Parliament (MPs). Reports suggest that it is not uncommon for candidates to expend millions in their bid for office. Even in constituencies where the population is less, candidates are still shelling out millions for their campaigns.

Sources of Campaign Funding

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While the origins of these vast sums remain shrouded in secrecy, it is evident that a consortium of affluent individuals, including both local businessmen and those with foreign interests, are key players in financing political campaigns. Some candidates are purportedly supported by pro-government tycoons, while others receive backing from opposition-aligned financiers. Moreover, there are allegations of covert contributions from foreign entities, further complicating the transparency of campaign finance.

Impact on the Economy

The economic ramifications of such lavish campaign spending are manifold. Firstly, the injection of significant capital into the political arena exacerbates wealth inequality by affording undue influence to wealthy donors. This undermines the democratic principle of equal representation, as candidates beholden to their financial backers may prioritize their interests over those of the electorate.

Secondly, the diversion of funds towards electioneering detracts from more productive avenues of investment, stifling economic growth and development. The allocation of millions towards fleeting campaign advertisements and rallies could instead be directed towards vital projects, social programs, or entrepreneurship initiatives, which have the potential to yield long-term benefits for the populace.

Government Control and Economic Entrenchment

The quest for parliamentary dominance incentivizes incumbents and aspiring MPs alike to expend vast sums in pursuit of power. Members of the ruling party, in particular, are accused of leveraging state resources, including employment opportunities in government-owned enterprises, to bolster their electoral prospects. Such practices not only erode public trust but also perpetuate a cycle of cronyism and corruption, wherein elected officials exploit their positions for personal gain.

Furthermore, the allure of parliamentary office as a gateway to economic enrichment cannot be overstated. MPs purportedly wield considerable influence in awarding government contracts and tenders, leading to allegations of nepotism and preferential treatment towards affiliated businesses. This symbiotic relationship between political power and economic enterprise perpetuates a system wherein access to wealth and influence is contingent upon securing parliamentary seats.

Campaign Finance Reform

Addressing the challenges posed by the pervasive influence of money in politics necessitates comprehensive campaign finance reform. Such reform efforts should focus on increasing transparency and accountability in campaign financing, ensuring that the public has access to information about the sources of campaign funds and expenditures. Additionally, regulations should be implemented to limit the amount of money that candidates can receive from individual donors and to prevent undue influence from wealthy special interests. By promoting greater transparency, accountability, and equity in campaign financing, Maldives can mitigate the negative economic consequences associated with lavish campaign spending and uphold the integrity of its democratic processes.


The exorbitant cost of parliamentary campaigns in Maldives highlights the entanglement of politics and economics in the nation’s democratic landscape. The prevalence of opaque campaign financing mechanisms and the disproportionate influence of affluent donors pose significant challenges to the integrity of the electoral process and the equitable distribution of resources. Addressing these systemic issues requires concerted efforts to enhance transparency, accountability, and economic diversification, thereby fostering a political environment wherein the interests of the electorate supersede those of vested interests. Failure to do so risks perpetuating a cycle of economic entrenchment and political disenfranchisement, with far-reaching implications for the future prosperity of Maldives.

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