Presidential runoff raises questions: Is Nasheed the new King Maker?

The first round of the presidential election in the Maldives has concluded with MDP candidate President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih and PPM-PNC candidate Dr. Mohamed Muizzu both finding themselves headed for a run-off. While both have previously asserted confidence of single-round victories, particularly President Solih, it is evident that both political parties must seek alliances with other parties and candidates to secure victory in the second round.

According to the provisional results, Dr. Muizzu has taken the lead with 100,841 votes, constituting 46 percent of the total, while President Solih garnered the second-highest number of votes, with 85,649 votes, equivalent to 39 percent.

At this point, the question arises about a potential game-changing formula that could change the outcome of this year's presidential election. In past elections, Jumhooree Party leader Qasim Ibrahim held the title of the "kingmaker" for the second round, with many attributing his electoral successes and substantial resources to the status.

Qasim Ibrahim's ability to influence election outcomes in 2008, 2013, and 2018 was unquestionable. However, in this year's election, he secured a disappointing fifth place among eight contestants, receiving a mere 5,573 votes. In comparison, both the Democrats' presidential candidate, Ilyas Labeeb, and independent candidate, Umar Naseer, received more votes than Qasim.

As a result, this turn of events has sparked a debate about the effectiveness of Qasim's "king-maker formula", with many arguing that Qasim no longer possesses the capacity to influence the election outcome with the modest number of votes he received. However, many now believe that Ilyas' significant vote count, coupled with the backing of Parliament Speaker and influential political figure former President Mohamed Nasheed, positions Nasheed as the true king-maker of this year's election.

While it seems that Qasim's defeat and the rise of the young candidate, Ilyas Labeeb, have effectively ended Qasim's political clout, this sentiment echoes in social media. Therefore, at this juncture, the prediction of the outcome of the second round of the presidential election is based on the decision of President Nasheed rather than Qasim. At this point, it is unclear what either candidate will decide, leaving the political landscape in suspense.