Our Political Parties

MT 60 Yrs – 2nd Year No 57 – Friday – 9th September 1955

Until April of this year there was only one political in Mauritius, the Labour Party. With the emergence of the Parti Mauricien, we had started to entertain hopes of finding the development of a two-party system. But shortly after it came into existence, the Parti Mauricien shattered our hopes. But turned out to be different from the kind of party fit to oppose the Labour Party.

When the question of constitutional reforms cropped up, the Labour Party and the Parti Mauricien were the only two recognized parties. Those who were outside them wielding some political power or enjoying political privileges were either Independents or Nominees. But when the parliamentary delegation reached London Nominees became Independents. What a muddle!

The upsurge of enthusiasm following the departure and the return of the parliamentary delegation is just ebbing when a third political party is under way of formation. Dr Millien in his last article in Le Mauricien, entitled “Regards sur l’avenir”, had spoken about the necessity of a third political party. And soon after, we witnessed La Troisième Force struggling to come into being.

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So, it is likely that we shall soon have three active political parties in Mauritius as in England.

It is no secret that the local Labour Party has much affinity with the Labour Party in England. But can we call the Parti Mauricien and the Troisième Force counterparts of the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party respectively?

The Parti Mauricien upholds capitalism and this gives it the colour of the Conservative Party. It opposes the Labour Party but unlike the Conservative Party it is a league of minorities. The name Parti Mauricien has become a misnomer. The Parti which set out to become Mauricien has degenerated into a Parti Anti-Indo Mauricien. It is a thousand pities that the supporters of the party did not stick to the principles contained in its manifesto. They wanted to dazzle and to get quick results. All they have got in return is a setback with considerable loss of prestige.

The Troisième Force proposes to be a moderate party. It is against what is extreme in the Labour Party and against what is extreme in the Parti Mauricien. It seems to be groping for the golden mean – something like the middle way of Buddha that lies between ascetic self-denial and sensual indulgence. If the Troisième Force is going to be likened to the Liberal Party it is more because of its moderate label than because of the existence of the two other parties. There is still room for a good seconde force.

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The very name La Troisième Force suggests that there already exist two political powers. It is to be feared that instead of developing into a healthy political party the Troisième Force may end up as a political group.

As in England, it is difficult, if not impossible, for a third political party to carry any weight. In England the Liberal Party exists as if by tradition. In the last general election it succeeded in receiving only 2½ per cent of the popular vote and in winning only one per cent of the seats in the House of Commons. It cannot be foreseen how there can ever be a Liberal Government.

In Mauritius if the Troisième Force is going to adopt the Liberal policy it may not be surprising to find it in the same plight as the Liberal Party. Moderation is by no means a cardinal virtue in politics. There must be dynamism. And how can there be dynamism while the mind is always engaged in finding a middle way? It is not sufficient to say that capitalism is harmful or socialism undesirable. The doctrine supposed to be lying between capitalism and socialism has to be labeled. Has a proper “ism” been found for it?

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The Labour Party may not be what it ought to be. One may find that its leaders are not perfect. The Party may lack organizations. It may not have received the support of Trade Unions and the Co-operative Movement as one would have liked. It may have failed so far to enlist the full sympathy of all brain-workers by appearing to be a Trade Union of labourers. But at least, it is to the credit of the Party that its principles are sound : it is an ideological party.

The Party Mauricien is getting further and further away from being an ideological party. It is openly fighting the Hindus of this island. And more. It has sent out its Apostles to preach the gospel of Hatred in Rodrigues. A party which is trying to thrive on the wholesale hatred of a community and not on the condemnation of any political doctrine is, to say the least, immature.

The future alone will reveal the part that the Troisième Force can play in local politics. But it is not hard to visualize it playing a sort of second fiddle. I may, however, become by force of circumstances an object of political courtship. It can make its influence felt in Council provided the Council is more or less equally divided. And provided, of course, that it is represented in Council.

* Published in print edition on 4 March 2016

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