MALE (AFP) - The Maldives' first-ever democratic presidential election goes to a second round Tuesday with Asia's longest-serving leader facing a former political prisoner in a run-off. Elections three weeks ago produced no clear winner after Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, 71, who has run the Indian Ocean archipelago unchallenged for 30 years, failed to deliver a knock-out blow to second-placed Mohamed "Anni" Nasheed. Both contenders expressed hopes of a clear victory in Tuesday's vote that will see the Maldives' first elected president, following political reforms in the liberal Sunni Muslim nation of 300,000 people. "We are very hopeful," Nasheed told AFP at his campaign centre in Male, the world's most densely populated capital with over 90,000 people crammed into one square mile. Nasheed received 25 percent of the October 8 vote compared to Gayoom's 41 in the first round. "We can't lose, in fact, we have already won, whatever the result may be tomorrow," Nasheed said, referring to his Maldivian Democratic Party's campaign for reform which brought about this month's presidential vote. "If the result is favourable to me, it will just be the icing on the cake," added the one-time Amnesty International "prisoner of conscience" who was held for three years at the Gaamadu prison by Gayoom's government in the early 1990s. Gayoom, who has ruled since 1978, was expected to receive additional votes this time around from supporters of a moderate opposition candidate who finished behind Nasheed in the first vote, the leader's spokesman said. "What we really need is another 10,000 votes and Gayoom is comfortably home. But for the opposition, they need to get much, much more than that," spokesman Mohammed Shareef told AFP. International human rights groups and the European Union have been nudging Gayoom to allow more democratic freedoms after unprecedented street riots broke out here in 2003 when a prisoner was killed while in custody. The violence in this traditionally peaceful archipelago jolted Gayoom who agreed to the reforms. This month's elections mark the first time he has allowed any competition. Rival political parties were only allowed to be formed on the islands two years ago. Gayoom is now at the end of his sixth-straight five-year term under the previous system of "selection" by a 50-member parliament. "A vast majority of opposition votes will turn to Anni, and that will be enough to bring about the change we have been wanting for years," said defeated candidate Ibrahim Ismail, who now supports Nasheed. Many Maldivians say they are eager to see a fresh face in charge of their atoll nation which, despite its image as a beach paradise for luxury tourism, is beset by a critical housing shortage, rising crime and drug abuse. "Lots of young people support Anni," a party worker at Gayoom's rally on Monday night said. "Some people want a change for the sake of change and that is a challenge for a president who has been in office for 30 years." "But we feel he will pull through with support from the older voters and especially women. He is popular among women," said the worker, who asked not to be named. A spokesman for the independent elections commission said the number of polling booths had been increased to address a shortage in the first round. Despite many claims of voting irregularities taking place, European Union observers declared that the voting earlier this month was fair.