What Next?


Rallies of the 1st May are over

We stated last week that the two main political blocs were embarked on a demonstration of force by evoking the numbers in attendance at their respective rallies of 1st May. It appears that Labour has done better at Vacoas in this respect than the MMM-MSM in Port Louis. Stakes were high on both sides. For Labour, it was important to contain any wavering from among those who form the government. For the newly constructed MMM-MSM alliance, it was to show that it really enjoyed the support of its members.

On their respective performance, it may be said that Labour has stifled temptations, if any there were among its rank and file, to cross over to the other side. A situation like this makes it remoter for the MMM-MSM to put the government in minority which was one of the objectives at the time SAJ stepped down from the presidency. The implication of this situation being that the government could continue well into its current term ending in 2015, the question arises as to whether the mission on which the MMM-MSM alliance had been built up is not diluted. Worse, whether it will or will not implode sooner or later.

The MMM may find that its new ally has not delivered on its promise. It may not have contributed the numbers that was expected of it for the rally in front of the City Hall of Port Louis. It may not have helped to swing members of the government in its favour, thus ending up in the same status quo as what obtained before SAJ’s stepping down. In other words, the MMM may come to the conclusion that it is none the better by joining into an alliance with the MSM.

We have observed in the past that the MMM’s electoral choice would be to go it alone to elections in a three-cornered fight, preferably with an electoral reform having a dose of proportional representation. In that case, the MSM would be helpful to it only insofar as it will cause votes going to Labour in the ordinary course of business to be split apart, favouring wins by the MMM in constituencies in which it would normally lose. Given the facility with which the MMM leader repudiates those who have shouldered him in the past, it will not be surprising that he may jettison the MSM at some stage on some pretext or other.

Proportional representation would perhaps bring a rapprochement between the MMM and Labour in view of the number of votes to be secured to pass such a motion in Parliament. However, the MMM could stick to its preferred option of going it alone even if it voted in favour of a dose of proportional representation along with Labour.

The Hindu caution that the MMM leader has been seeking time and again will not be forthcoming to it from Labour, unless the MMM is prepared to take on even a lesser number of tickets for the next elections than what it is getting in its current deal with the MSM. Under this scenario, in the absence of a tacit alliance with Labour, it will carry on with its perpetual electioneering campaign as it is its wont.

It will be helped in this enterprise by the MSM the time it will take to put itself on a sounder footing by nit-picking at failings of the government until the elections are at the doorstep. This will be an exercise intended to pick up popular sympathy for being a better alternative than the government in power in the delivery of political, social, and economic outcomes. The risk would be that despite such an undertaking, it may end up no better than the situation it is currently in.

In the event there are pointers in this direction, those fringes of the population which swing bloc votes in favour of what they perceive as the next winning team will swing their votes in that direction. Unless the MMM puts itself therefore as the maker of the next government, it will lose these interested votes or, rather, hand them over to the potential winner by default. This is the reality of politics in Mauritius. Those who do not come together like those bloc votes to be with the winning team, have themselves to blame for being so scattered. They cannot blame those who make bloc votes in order to gain.

If the MMM eventually goes it alone, this will marginalize the MSM even further and reduce its role to a nuisance value. It is a matter of speculation whether the MSM was conscious of having to face this kind of predicament when it decided to quit the government and when SAJ decided to leave the presidency.

During the show of force of the two major 1st May rallies, the two blocs showed their special aptitudes in matters of parading the alleged bonking in which their political adversaries would have been involved, in the sight and view of their assembled members on the podium some of whom must be having a modicum of dignity. It may be said that the country has now drifted several notches below.

Short of anything better, it appears that the theme of personal attacks will remain dominant on the menu of our major political considerations. It has the potential to make and unmake future political alliances. It is a tragedy that it would have been better not to re-enact. However, individual politicians, their doings and misdoings, are likely to continue to occupy the centre stage, much to our loss. If you took a moment to cast a glance over your shoulders a little bit into the making of the world that will emerge out of the current economic turbulence, you will observe that the petty personal squabbles in which our local politicians are engaged are way out of global preoccupations.

* Published in print edition on 4 May 2012

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