Maldivian entrepreneur and Jumhooree Party (JP) leader Qasim Ibrahim has played a pivotal role in previous presidential elections, often seen as a "king maker" due to his influence and ability to sway the outcome of elections.
Qasim has been instrumental in securing presidencies for both Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) in the past, something he stressed on during his campaign for the presidential election.
His party had high hopes of winning the 2023 presidential election without forming a coalition.
Qasim did not participate in the 2018 presidential election due to him living in exile, resulting from escaping imprisonment during Abdulla Yameen's presidency. However, he has been a candidate in four out of the five presidential elections held since the current Maldives Constitution was enacted 15 years ago.
Despite never taking a lead in any of the elections he contend in, Qasim was always regarded as the country's "king maker" that eventually decided who assumed power.
In this year's presidential election, Qasim Ibrahim's popularity appears to have waned significantly. Despite leading a party with over 22,000 members, he was unable to secure more than 6,000 votes, indicating a significant decline in his political influence.
This election also marks the lowest number of votes he secured.
In 2008, Qasim secured 27,056 (15.32 percent) votes in the first multi-party election. Out of the four presidential candidates, the JP leader secured the lowest.
His second presidential run was in 2013 where he secured 48,131 (23.34 percent) votes.
However, coming in fifth out of eight candidates in the 2023 presidential election, despite his strong campaign efforts, is a significant defeat for Qasim.
Former Home Minister Umar Naseer, who contested the election as an independent candidate without much support, also garnered around 6,000 votes. Meanwhile, the Maldives National Party (MNP), led by former Defense Minister and Dhangethi MP Mohamed Nazim, boasts 9,838 members. In the last parliamentary elections, he secured his seat with a margin of 1,071 votes.
Despite facing significant challenges and running as an independent candidate, Umar Naseer managed to secure over 6,000 votes in the first round of the presidential race. This demonstrates his ability to garner support even without the backing of a political party.
Besides Qasim, Maldives National Party (MNP) leader and former Minister of Defense Mohamed Nazim was the other contender to face a similar defeat in this year's election.
Despite having 9,838 registered members in MNP, Nazim received only 1,813 votes, which amounted to just 0.83 percent of the total votes in the presidential election.
While Nazim was elected to Dhangethi MP seat with 1,071 votes in the last parliamentary election, he secured just five votes from his constituency in the presidential election.
Nazim's campaign agent, Vilimalé MP Ahmed Usham said they were now looking into the reasons that led to the MNP leader's low vote count. Usham further said that the significantly low votes from Malé City could also be a reason behind it.
"We believe this is why the results faced significant impact. We garnered very low results from Malé and other cities. Whatever the case, we did not secure the results that were expected. We did not receive the support compared to our efforts," Usham said.
Usham also said that the Maldives still had only two major political ideologies, which could explain Nazim's lower-than-expected result in the presidential election.
Nazim's last campaign venue was his own constituency, Dhangethi. The strong welcome reception for Nazim during his campaign visit did not reflect in the eventual result.
Dr. Mohamed Muizzu, the candidate from Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) and People's National Congress (PNC) coalition took the lead in the first round of the presidential election by securing 101,000 votes with Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, who is seeking re-election coming in second by securing over 86,000 votes.
For a successful first round election, candidates must secure over 50 percent of the votes. However, none of the candidates managed a 50 percent sweep of votes due to which the election has moved for a second round, scheduled for September 30.