Category Archives: The Maldives

‘Difficult’ cases – The Maldives 1972-1975

This is series of posts that identifies countries that almost comply with the definition of semi-presidentialism that is used in this blog, but which fail to do so on the basis of a certain, sometimes unusual provision, or where the date when semi-presidentialism started can be contested.

One constitution that I found very difficult to track down was that of the Maldives from 1972-1975.

The Maldives adopted a new constitution in 1967. I have not been able to obtain a copy of the original 1967 document, but I understood that it included the direct election of the president. Even so, worldstatesmen.org did not identify a prime minister at that time. So, the constitution could not be semi-presidential.

However, there was a constitutional amendment in 1972 and then another in 1975. Between these dates, worldstatesmen.org does identify a prime minister. Given PMs are usually, though not always, associated with governments that are responsible to the legislature, the Maldives during this period struck me as a possible historic case of semi-presidentialism. (See previous posts).

I had been able to obtain a hard copy of the constitution after the 1975 amendment and confirmed that there was no PM. However, the 1972 version escaped me. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I discovered that the National Library of Australia had a copy and that it could be sent as a PDF. Oh happy day!

Anyway, it turns out that the Maldives was on the cusp of semi-presidentialism from 1972-1975. According to the constitution during this period:

Art. 52 establishes the position of prime minister.
Art. 57 states that if the legislature passes a motion of no-confidence in the PM or a minister, then they have to resign.
This article is a little ambiguous about collective responsibility. It seems to imply individual responsibility, though I suppose a bill, or bills, could be introduced that would express no-confidence in all ministers and the PM.

However, the element that, for me, definitely disqualifies the Maldives is Arts. 24 and 25. This states that the president is elected in a public referendum (not an election). Basically, the legislature chooses a candidate and then the candidate’s name is put to a referendum. For me, this does not count as direct election.

Therefore, on the basis of Arts. 24 and 25 and in addition to the ambiguity in Art. 57, I do not class the Maldives during this period as an historic case of semi-presidentialism, but there is a sense in which it is on the cusp.