The tropical archipelago, located 400 kilometers from India, has historically relied on New Delhi for security and trade. But those ties weakened when President Abdulla Yameen took power in 2013 and began cozying up to China, the world's second-largest economy.
However, last Sunday's presidential election could change that dynamic.
Opposition candidate Ibrahim Mohamed Solih won 58 percent of the vote on Sunday, defeating Yameen in a poll that was considered fair despite concerns about transparency in the run-up to the ballot.
Solih's administration may now restore civil liberties that were previously restrained under Yameen's authoritarian regime, which was characterized by a deteriorating rule of law, the jailing of critics, religious fundamentalism and emergency rule.
Solih's party is on track to reinstate freedom of expression, implement judicial reforms and clamp down on corruption, Alyssa Ayres, a senior South Asia fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said in a note.
As his pro-democracy government is more politically aligned with New Delhi, Solih will likely repair ties with India and "veer back to the more traditional close regional partnership," Ayres stated.
India welcomed Sunday's election result.
"This election marks not only the triumph of democratic forces in the Maldives, but also reflects the firm commitment to the values of democracy and the rule of law," the country's Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.