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Event Series Event Series: Asia in Review Election Monitor 2024

Maldives Elections: Political Clans, Geopolitical Interests, and Religion

April 10 from 15:00 - 16:30 BMT

Asia in Review event series on elections in 2024

Online panel discussion


April 10, 2024, 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. (GMT+7)

online via Zoom video teleconferencing



Concept Note

The Maldives is gearing up for its parliamentary elections, now scheduled for April 21, after a postponement from the originally planned mid-March date due to the holy month of Ramadan. These forthcoming elections are set to determine the composition of the People’s Majlis, the unicameral legislative body of the archipelago state. Anticipated to be highly competitive, the elections unfold within a political landscape that has remained markedly fluid since the cessation of authoritarian rule in 2008. This landscape is characterized by deep, yet dynamic, cleavages between political clans, diverging geopolitical interests, and varied positions on Islam’s role in politics. 

As the smallest state in Asia by population, with just over 500,000 inhabitants, the Maldives as one of the world’s most geographically dispersed sovereign states and the smallest Muslim-majority country occupy a geopolitically distinct position. Positioned southwest of Sri Lanka and India, the Maldives has long been regarded as an integral part of India’s strategic sphere.  

Its strategic location in the Indian Ocean, at a crucial crossroads of international shipping lanes connecting East Asia with the Middle East, grants it significant geostrategic importance. This importance has been further highlighted since the Maldives became an integral part of China’s Maritime Silk Road Initiative. Since and with Beijing’s dominant role as a lender, the Maldives has transformed into a geostrategic arena between India and China. The dynamics of this ongoing regional power struggle are reflected and are influencing domestic politics as different leaders exhibit varying preferences toward the competing regional powers.  

Furthermore, against the backdrop of Islam being the state religion and Saudi Arabia exerting a significant influence in the island state, radical Islam is growing. This affects not only the archipelago’s internal power structure but also poses a complex issue for India’s foreign policy. 

The concept of ‘Clan politics’ refers to another interesting aspect of Maldivian politics, referring to a complex and multilayered socio-political structure for which a kind of ‘dynastic politics’ seems to shape the political apex dominated by a few families. Yet, the concept of clan politics encompasses much more than the mere observation that the official state structure is intertwined with the power and influence of several traditionally privileged political families at the very top. 

Although the Maldives displayed elements of a caste society until the 1920s, the more significant social distinction has historically been between nobility and commoners. Today, the political landscape is still shaped by the fact that power is firstly unequally dispersed in society and secondly dispersed across the different inhabited islands. Political influence is wielded at the archipelago’s center in Male as much as the islands by ‘big men’ – individuals who successfully leverage their family’s influence, their capital, key functions on important islands, local religious communities, and the bureaucratic structure to become hubs across the various power networks of the archipelago state, playing a pivotal role in the Maldives’ socio-political fabric. 

The seminar in CPG’s series on elections in Asia aims to unravel the country’s interesting political landscape to explore how the upcoming elections might unfold and impact internal socio-political dynamics.  

If you would like to learn more about the political background of the Maldives, click here.


(The event will be held in English.)



Event registration is essential for participation; individuals interested are encouraged to do so by visiting the link or QR code provided below. For more information, please email us at events@cpg-online.de


Click here or scan the QR code to register. 


April 10
15:00 - 16:30 BMT
Event Category:


Event Type
Panel Discussion / Roundtable