The Labour Party-MMM-PMSD alliance has been long in the making – almost three years since the time when rumours were afloat about a proposal to bring together these three parties in the wake of their debacle at the 2019 elections. What gave some substance to that rumour was the proposal made as early as 2020 by the leader of the Labour Party, who had canvassed the idea of a common boycott of the Presidential Address and the parliamentary debates on the Government Programme by the opposition parties in Parliament. A common stand could not be reached due to the divergent views of the MMM and the PMSD on that proposal. Nevertheless, the idea of a reunion of the three traditional Opposition parties did make some headway during further consultations with a common front floated during 2022 for the municipal elections that were later to be postponed again by government. But a common agreement towards the general elections made slow progress, leaving the door open to a number of Opposition voices, parliamentary and extra-parliamentary, to air their own agendas and ambitions.
The issue of whether or not to induct those other newly-formed parties, especially Roshi Bhadain’s Reform Party and Nando Bodha’s Rassemblement Mauricien, came in the way of the formation of the Alliance, and it has now been formally set up once the leadership of that alliance by Navin Ramgoolam has been resolved to the LP leader’s satisfaction. Ramgoolam took the time that it required – almost three years – to get the MMM and the PMSD, two diminished parties relative to their early years, to accept ground reality of the LP’s strength said some, to bend to his diktat said others. This also means that his leadership of the alliance and his eventual prime ministership for a full five-year term in case of electoral victory, already recognised during 2022 by MMM figureheads as an internal LP matter, would have also been confirmed.
Even if there might be broad consensus on the proposition that anything else would be better that the current dispensation in light of its misgovernance of the affairs of the country, what remains unknown in the absence of credible opinion surveys is whether the LP-MMM-PMSD brand is a selling proposition, or whether another LP-PMSD might be a better option. Or, even whether Navin Ramgoolam himself represents a winning brand for the Labour Party. Marketing gurus contend that sometimes a brand can recover from a disaster, sometimes not, but that’s for the LP to ponder. We’ll get a better reading of the current rapport de force on the political chessboard this afternoon from the LP-MMM-PMSD first joint regional congress at Mare d’Albert.
A vibrant democracy requires a credible opposition. This has been lacking since the coming to power of the current government. The circumstances demanded that this lacuna be filled; this has now been done. Nothing else in terms of common programme – even in its broad terms -, the constitution of its front bench (which usually weighs heavily in electoral outcomes), the ‘répartition des tickets’… — all these remain unknown to this day, and will be taken care of in good time, it would seem, although snippets may be gleaned from that first of a series of regional gatherings. The leaders of the LP, MMM and PMSD would surely not want their alliance to be perceived as one that is only in line with their own political ambitions, but one that will and can make a difference in the lives of their countrymen and that it will do things differently if elected – and not viewed as more of the same.
In the meantime, a lot of water will certainly flow under the bridge until the next elections, but it would not do any harm if the LP, MMM and PMSD could also start with rebuilding and reinventing themselves through internal reordering and democratization. By taking such a call they will be ensuring their future relevance on the political landscape. All Mauritian parliamentary parties have at some time or other been in political alliance, and it stands to reason that the population, despite growing discontent with the way things are being currently run, may take some time to be wooed that this is an alliance that is credible in offering a radical program going some way to meet popular pent-up demand for change in governance practices. This gathering marks therefore an important first litmus test for the three parties as it begins the roll-out process and will be keenly watched by the ruling party and extra-parliamentary forces and, we dare say, by much of the population.
Mauritius Times ePaper Friday 28 July 2023
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