Two events marked the political scene this week.
The MMM leader had created the very strong impression last week that the MMM was only inches away from concluding an electoral alliance with Labour. The allocation of tickets to each party was mentioned, along with a project to go for a Constitutional amendment that would vest full executive powers in the President of the Republic and the withdrawal therefore of those powers from a Prime Minister who would work under the President and be responsible for managing government business, all of this under a changed electoral system with a dose of PR and so forth.
In view of the apparent contradiction which the MMM’s new shift of allegiance implied, Paul Bérenger stated that the recent ‘remake’ of the MMM-MSM alliance would be allowed to cool down. For all practical purposes, the latter alliance appeared to have been a still-born as it did not fulfil the “mission” entrusted to SAJ to destabilize the government by organizing defections from the ranks of the government. On the other hand, the MMM leader announced that Alan Gannoo, the MMM’s deputy leader, had been busy negotiating the contours of an anticipated Labour-MMM alliance.
It is only towards the end of the week that the Labour leader announced that he was not in a hurry to go all along with the MMM leader’s recommendations about electoral reform. The effect was to tilt the MMM leader 180 degrees around, only for him to try to breathe new life into the alliance he had relegated to the fridge only days ago. He had suddenly decided to renew contact with SAJ again to revive this project, leaving behind altogether the alliance he had sought to forge with Labour by dropping the MSM.
Obviously, it was not only observers of the political scene who were flabbergasted at the incongruous waltz the MMM leader was pacing into during so short a time. There were furious reactions from among the MMM following in the media about how inconsistent and self-defeating all this had become. Not only were the bearings being lost. Credibility had by now taken a serious knock. Many wondered whether it was true all the round-about turns the party leadership had been taking of late, blowing hot and cold. The deepest concern was whether the quest for power had become so obsessive with the party leadership that it had not hesitated to undermine whatever principles it might still have stood for.
The impact of the MMM leader’s changing allegiances to different political parties the party was seeking to join in alliance has actually affected the standing of the MSM more than anything else. Seeing perhaps the MSM’s chances of success going into election alone diminished by Paul Bérenger’s switch-over to Labour’s side, this development could have decided last week’s defection of MSM’s deputy Pratibha Bholah to Labour, thereby consolidating the government’s majority in the House. It is even speculated that this up-to-now “indefectible” partisan of the MSM, would possibly be pitched against SAJ in Constituency No 7 were SAJ to stand for election in that Constituency in 2015.
This second political event of the week put the MSM in a very weak posture. It showed that the MSM was prone to poaching away of its members by other political parties, depending on their perception at the moment as to how well the party could perform in an election when deprived of lateral support from one of the two major political parties. It also showed that its March 2012 alliance with the MMM was not built up around a credible common program endorsed by the two parties’ followers. It was hotchpotch.
Despite fundamentals of an alliance not having been agreed upon a priori, the MSM, it would appear, had thrown itself into the arms of an undependable and unprincipled partner on the lookout for a composition with whomsoever it could for the sake of power. The MMM even got SAJ to step down from State House. This recent episode with Pratibha Bholah and others further exposed the MSM to having to fold in to a fresh invitation by the MMM to join up notwithstanding the double-dealing inflicted on it by the MMM only a couple of weeks ago. MMM leader Paul Bérenger was scheduled for renewed talks with SAJ at La Caverne this Wednesday as if nothing had just taken place. The circumstances show that the MSM does not appear to have the same degrees of freedom to swing about into different alliances as much as the MMM has. Merely to find itself in such a position recurrently would empty the MSM of whatever ideology it could claim to be defending, reducing it to a vacant entity just like the MMM.
The problem is that one does not know as of today what exactly are the political values that the MSM stands for. If any, are they clear-cut enough from the rest of the major parties for voters to identify themselves with such? In the past, we had parties leaning to the right or to the left or to various shades of the right-left configurations. In the case of Labour, even though much water would have flown under the bridge with various degrees of discolouring the party may have suffered due to the operation of right-wingers from within its ranks in past years, it can be generally agreed that the party still incarnates in the eyes of its followers, the values of sympathy with workers that the old guard had stood for. In the case of the MMM, the ideology boils down to a carry-over of the confrontational stance that the PMSD of 1967 stood for with more of a penchant for right-wing policies once it is in power. But what of the MSM? Neither here, nor there! Not even in the middle!
The MMM’s recent wanderings have exposed this void in the MSM, as if the MSM is solely capable of engineering winners in elections and sharing in the resulting power. This situation shows that the party cannot inspire a motivated team to rally around a well-established social objective of its own. The risk is that this exposes it to become a plaything for the political majors to play with as their opportunity serves. This should explain as well why it recently became the breeding ground for so many defectors. There was a need to rally around major themes of social advancement; the reality of the moment is that the rallying is being built around personalities, not powerful ideas that can capture the imagination of a new generation. That hardly makes the MSM distinguishable from the others or lasting in time. It explains why parties like the MMM take it for granted.
* Published in print edition on 10 August 2012