The first political party in Maldivian history came into being on 23rd September 1951. Named ‘ Muthaga’dhim ‘, this party was led by Al-Ameer Mohamed Ameen Didi. As no other political parties existed at the time and there was no competitive political environment and democratic values were new, this party was only active during the Mohamed Ameen Didi’s government.
More than a half century later, a petition signed by 42 individuals requesting the registry of a political party was formally was submitted to Ministry of Home Affairs. The request was denied as the Attorney General at the time, Dr. Mohamed Munavvar counselled that the legal framework at the time did not permit for the existence of political parties.
As work towards developing a multiparty system in the Maldives went forward, the issue was put forward in the parliament where it was heavily debated upon. On 17th June 2001 a vote was taken and 43 members voted against creating a multiparty system in the Maldives. However, the work to develop political parties in the Maldives went on.
Maldives saw significant changes to its political scenario starting from September 2003. On 9th June 2004, President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom gave a public speech about the importance of introducing a multi party democratic system.
United Nations Development Program, under special request from the government of Maldives, facilitated a research by National Democratic Institute, which works to promote democracy internationally. The research was focused on the opportunities and challenges to develop a multi party system in Maldives. The research, completed in December 2004 recommended to develop necessary changes to the legal framework to recognize political parties and other groups as there were active parties at the time.
Dr. Hassan Saeed, who was Attorney General in 2005, advised that the constitution does not prevent a multi party system from existing in Maldives. This paved the way for the creation of a Multi party system in Maldives.
Consequently, the issue of introducing multi party democracy was once again put forward into the agenda of the parliament. A vote was passed on 2nd June 2005 by 46 members in favor of a multi party system to allow the creation of parties under the freedom to create Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and Civil Society Organizations.
As such, on 4th June 2005, the president with power derived from article 42 of the constitution, issued a decree that permitted the registration of political parties and assigned the task of managing political parties to Minister of Home Affairs.
On 5th June 2005, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) requested to be registered with 105 signatories. The following parties also submitted requests to be registered on the same date;
On 8th June 2005 Adhaalath Party requested to be registered with 50 signatories. Various parties have requested to be registered since the handing over of management of political parties to elections commission on 23rd August 2005.
The first party to be registered after necessary formalities was Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) led by G. Keneryge Mr.Mohamed Nasheed on 26th June 2005.