A Perfect (Political) Storm Brewing…

The 2014 General Elections

In meteorological parlance, a “perfect storm” occurs when there is a confluence of events that create a surprisingly catastrophic storm. The term itself was popularised by Sebastian Junger in his book ‘The Perfect Storm’ in 1991 (later made into an Oscar-nominated movie) which described the huge storm and its associated massive waves that lashed out along the Eastern Seaboard of the USA. Rare, but not unusual, storms become “perfect” when certain meteorological occurrences combine with the normal storm formation process to aggravate the situation drastically.

Considered on their own, each of those unusual occurrences is not very significant, but when they are combined, the result can be a formidable event of unusual magnitude. As expected, perfect storms and their magnitude are difficult to predict, but scientists have started to understand the phenomenon and can at least sense the likelihood, if not its magnitude, of a perfect storm hitting!

The term perfect storm may also apply to any event that is created when seemingly insignificant and unrelated situations combine to create a rare and surprising event. A DCDM-L’Express poll taken some time back attempted to gauge the situation, but it was clear that the poll could not capture the real significance of all those situations. A large chunk of the respondents were lumped into a category that was conveniently called “undecided”.

In fact, no single analyst can predict the relative importance of these unique events and how they are going to interact with one another to produce an outcome that observers have variously described as a possible wave or even a tsunami. But I believe something more colossal than a wave or a tsunami that is brewing. What we are really witnessing today is a perfect storm in the making!

For the first time in Mauritius, we have so many factors cropping up. Today, it is no longer just a pro- v/s anti-Independence issue, no longer a Ram v/s Rawan choice to make… We are called to vote for a 2nd Republic, the details of which we know nothing of; the desire for a change is overwhelming across the board; there are MMM sympathisers who consider an alliance with Labour Party as treason, (remember when the PMSD lost its electorate to the MMM when Sir Gaëtan Duval joined hands with SSR?); many still resent the scuttling of Remake 2000; there is a significant Labour Party electorate who still cannot accept Paul Bérenger as a Prime Minister (with or without power); the strong view that Sir A Jugnauth is a very disciplined leader who means business and gets it done, while giving due consideration to issues like law and order and drug control; the view that PRB and NCR represent two styles of leadership and that the seeds of instability may have already been sown; the general view that the LP places more emphasis on prestige projects (airport, motorways…) even though many of the mega projects have never taken off ground (Dream Bridge, Jin Fei, Neotown…), while neglecting provision of basic needs (water and housing) to the growing segment of underprivileged; strong opposition to the Light Rail project and the huge costs associated with it, particularly when there is such lack of transparency in all transactions; the large percentage of “undecided” that in fact may include a large proportion of voters who do not wish to declare their intentions openly for fear of reprisal, but whose decisions are already made; the large-scale adherence to the populist measures enunciated in Lepep’s manifesto, many of which have been “copied” by the LP-MMM alliance; and the list goes on…

We have all learnt that Nature is a great teacher. All the above situations are slowly combining to produce a formidable and surprising event on the 10th of December, the magnitude of which will only be apparent on the following day. I have no doubt that a perfect political storm is brewing and that it will sweep the Lepep Alliance to power and SAJ back into the PM’s seat!


* Published in print edition on 5 December 2014

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