IRI Maldives Poll: Strong Support for Decentralized Government, Greater Effectiveness of Local Councils, Increased Women’s Political Participation

Malé, Maldives— A new nationwide poll of the Maldives by the International Republican Institute’s (IRI) Center for Insights in Survey Research (CISR) reveals strong support for a decentralized government,greater effectiveness of local councils, and increased women’s participation in the political process.  

The poll found that 79% of adults support a decentralized system of governance. This represents an increase of five percentage points from IRI’s previous Maldives poll.

“Citizens continue to reinforce their desire for a greater say in the decision-making process for their islands,” said Steve Cima, Regional Director for South Asia at IRI. “Policymakers should continue to build upon this by prioritizing measures empowering local councils to deliver on community expectations.” 

The survey also found that Maldivians cite increasing local council effectiveness on several issues, including waste management and infrastructure maintenance. However, citizens also note that councils’ lack of capacity is the single greatest obstacle to their ability to function more effectively.  

Maldivians also want women to actively participate in the political process. Eighty-nine percent say it is important for women to be involved in political decision-making and 71% say it would be good if more women were elected to the government.

“Women are underrepresented in politics, despite a majority of Maldivians saying it would be good if more women were elected to government,” said Cima. “This overwhelming public support reinforces IRI’s programmatic efforts to empower and build the capacity of elected women leaders.” 


The survey was conducted on behalf of IRI’s Center for Insights in Survey Research by the Institute for Research and Innovation, Villa College between November 21 and December 24, 2023. Data was collected using a multi-stage stratified probability sample through in-person, in-home interviews. The sample consists of 1,266 respondents aged 18 and older and is representative of resident Maldivian adults nationally, excluding the 6% of the adult population residing on resort islands. The margin of error for the mid-range of the full sample does not exceed ±2.7 points at the 95% confidence level. The response rate was 71%.

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