PR for Mauritius ? Bonjour les dégâts!

Electoral Reform

We have seen in our previous article how a small dose of PR in Rodrigues destabilized the election of the Rodrigues Regional Assembly. We hold the view that its introduction in Mauritius can also destabilize our electoral system and take us to a point of no return.

We shall now consider a simulation for the introduction of 20 PR seats in Mauritius, based on the application of the two methods of PR that were suggested in the past – the Compensatory Method and the UVE Formula. Both appear to produce more or less the same effect on the majority in the Assembly, that is they reduces drastically the majority and can put any government in minority at any time.

For the sake of clarity, we shall have a closer look at the 1987 general elections and apply both the methods suggested to allocate the 20 PR seats.

Election Results: 1987

MMM MSM-PTr- PMSD

UNION MMM

OPR Rodrigues

% of votes

49.86%

48.12%

2.02%

No. of FPTP MPs

39

21

2

No. of BLS MPs

5

3

0

Total no. of MPs

44

24

2

The ruling party had a clear majority of 20 seats.

Let us apply PR proposed to this result.

PR – TYPE 1

Formula for Nomination = % of votes obtained by party divided by (no. of FPTP MPs + 1). The party that gets the highest score nominates its MP according to the rank and priority in PR List.

Let us work it out for 1987 Elections.

Nomination of 1st MP Result

MSM-PTr-PMSD

49.86 / 40

1.247

UNION MMM

48.12/ 22

2.187 Highest score

OPR

2.02/ 3

0.6733

MMM wins the 1st MP

The candidate on RANK 1 on the list for MMM is nominated. If he is an elected MP, the one who comes next on the list will be nominated.

Recalculation is done until all the 20 seats are allocated

MSM-PTr-PMSD

UNION MMM

OPR

WINNER

1st seat

49.86/40=1.247

48.12/22=2.187

2.02/3=0.6733

MMM

2nd seat

1.247

48.12/23=2.092

0.6733

MMM

3rd seat

1.247

48.12/24=2.005

0.6733

MMM

4th seat

1.247

48.12/25=1.925

0.6733

MMM

5th seat

1.247

48.12/26=1.851

0.6733

MMM

6th seat

1.247

48.12/27=1.782

0.6733

MMM

7th seat

1.247

48.12/28=1.719

0.6733

MMM

8th seat

1.247

48.12/29=1.659

0.6733

MMM

9th seat

1.247

48.12/30=1.604=

0.6733

MMM

10th seat

1.247

48.12/31=1.562

0.6733

MMM

11th seat

1.247

48.12/32=1.504

0.6733

MMM

12th seat

1.247

48.12/33=1.458

0.6733

MMM

13th seat

1.247

48.12/34=1.415

0.6733

MMM

14th seat

1.247

48.12/35=1.375

0.6733

MMM

15th seat

1.247

48.12/36=1.337

0.6733

MMM

16th seat

1.247

48.12/37=1.301

0.6733

MMM

17th seat

1.247

48.12/38=1.266

0.6733

MMM

18th seat

1.247

48.12/39=1.234

0.6733

MSM-PTr-PMSD

19th seat

49.86/41=1.216

1.234

0.6733

MMM

20th seat

1.216

48.12/40=1.203

0.6733

MSM-PTr-PMSD

Appropriation of PR seats

MSM-PTr-PMSD

UNION MMM

OPR

WINNER

To PR seat

2

18

0

Composition of National Assembly using this Formula for 1987 Elections

elected mps

nominated mps

total

MSM-PTr-PMSD

39

2

41

UNION MMM

21

18

39

OPR

2

2

2

The majority (44-24) would have vaporised to 41-41.

If OPR would had decided to make a post electoral alliance with MMM, there would have been a deadlock of 41-41 and the democratically elected MSM-PTr-PMSD might not have been able to govern the country. This is the type of PR which has reduced the ruling party from a comfortable majority 66% to a majority of but only one in the recent elections for Rodrigues Regional Assembly, that also after a readjustment.

PR – TYPE 2

PR FORMULA 2 (Using UVE, Unused Vote Elect)

Let us see how this formula works.

– The total number of votes of all losing candidates (called wasted votes) from each party is computed and added. Independent candidates are not considered. The votes secured by elected candidates are not considered. The votes of these unelected candidates of parties are called UNUSED VOTE ELECT

The total of these unused votes is made and the percentage of each party is determined based on this total. The number of PR seats is allocated in the ratio of that percentage.

Let us apply this formula to the 1987 election.

In Constituency No.1, all 3 candidates from MMM were elected. So for MMM, the wasted vote is zero.

All three candidates for MSM-PTr-PMSD lost. So, for this party, the wasted votes would be the total votes obtained by the 3 candidates of this alliance. Wasted vote for MSM-PTr-PMSD would be 9105 + 9051 + 8823 = 26 979.

Let us now see the result for the 1987 elections from the UVE perspective:

Constituency

MSM-PTr-PMSD

MMM

OPR

Total

1

26979

26979

2

24553

24553

3

10998

10998

4

28181

14342

42523

5

40895

40895

6

34824

34823

7

30748

30748

8

33014

33014

9

40330

40334

10

40473

40473

11

28185

28185

12

31591

31591

13

11638

23385

35023

14

17074

32853

49927

15

33088

17166

50254

16

14817

29196

44013

17

38161

38161

18

43600

43600

19

30985

30985

20

26451

13705

40156

TOTAL

224764

492468

717232

% of wasted votes.

31.3%

68.7%

100%

No. of PR seats to be allocated to MSM-PTr-PMSD = 31.3 % of 20 = 6.

No. of PR seats to be allocated to MMM = 68.7% of 20 = 14.

Composition of National Assembly using UVE Formula 2

No. of Elected MPs

No. of PR MPs

TOTAL

MSM-PTr-PMSD

39

6

45

UNION MMM

21

14

35

OPR

2

0

2

This formula reduces the elected majority from 20 to 8 only.

Although this formula reduces the gap between the percentage of votes received by a party and the percentage of MPs in the National Assembly, it has still got a drawback of reducing the majority of the democratically elected ruling party to a strict minimum. This will still be a threat to the stability of a government. Let us still apply it to 1987 and see how it could have influenced the result. With only 5 MPs leaving the ruling party and joining the opposition, the situation would have been as follows

Ruling Party: 40

Opposition : 40

Rodrigues : 2

It can again result in a deadlock situation. If this formula were adopted, it would also need to be refined. Therefore, it can be concluded that PR is a potential threat to destabilize any elected government.

The Dangers of Proportional Representation

Proportional Representation can be considered to be antidemocratic because the MPs are not the direct choices of the people but are instead imposed by the political party Leaders. The party Leaders will have too much power. The people will have lots of difficulties to get rid of a party member who is inefficient or corrupt but has the blessings of his Leader. Furthermore, there will be too much pressure on the leaders by all sorts of lobbies.

It makes hardly any sense to give an open mandate to the political leaders to nominate 20 to 28 MPs (nearly 30 %) in the National Assembly

This is why the Labour Party had ferociously opposed PR when it was proposed in 1955 by the Colonial Government and Parti Mauricien. Guy Rozemont, Renganaden Seeneevassen and Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam fought tooth and nail against it until the Colonial Government had to retract and abandon the idea of Proportional Representation.

After the death of Guy Rozemont in 1956 and that of Renganaden Seeneevassen in 1958, Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, Sir Abdool Rajack Mohamed, and the Bissoondoyal brothers closely kept vigilance on any proposal for Proportional Representation until independence in spite of the forcing made by PMSD and the sugar barons.

Let us now have a comparative table for the 1987 General Elections and conclude on PR if it were implemented.

BLS

PR FORMULA 1

PR UVE

MSM-PTr-PMSD

44

41

45

UNION MMM

24

39

35

OPR

2

2

2

TOTAL

70

80

80

The present system gives a clear majority of 20

The proposed PR FORMULA 1 (which currently prevails in Rodrigues) leaves no margin for the leading party that had won the election. It produces a total deadlock situation.

The proposed PR UVE gives a fragile majority of only 8 seats, down from 18 under the existing BLS system. This thinned down majority is very critical for any ruling party. The opposition can trade off with only 5 MPs, promising them RANK 2 to 6 on its PR List for the forthcoming election, just after the Leader of the Party in RANK 1. These 5 members being, assured of their seat in the next Parliament, can do anything to undermine their own party. This would be enough to topple any government at any time. The leader of the ruling party can then become an ‘ otage ‘ of a small group within his own party and it will not be good for the political health of the country. It may be noted that five MPs had left the Government in 2004 to join the Opposition which provided them positions during the 2005 election. This anecdote will surely make the potential dangers of PR clearer. Let us say for the general elections in year 2020, three parties contest the election and are eligible for PR.

Without prejudice, let the situation be as follows. Party A and Party B are responsible parties representing candidates in all the constituencies of Mauritius and are the two most successful parties for decades while Party C is a radical party which presents candidates in only some regional constituencies and has not been able to elect any MP but has been able to score the minimum of 10 % at national level. Let us suppose that the Election result is as follows:

Let us see what PR can do.

Party A

Party B

Party C

% of votes

48%

42 %

10%

No of FPTP MPs

35

25

0

Party A

Party B

Party C

WINNER

% of votes

48%

42 %

10%

No of FPTP MPs

35

25

0

1st PR

48/36= 1.333

42/26= 1.615

10/1= 10

Party C

2nd PR

1.333

1.615

10/2= 5

Party C

3rd PR

1.333

1.615

10/3= 3.33

Party C

4th PR

1.333

1.615

10/4= 2.5

Party C

5th PR

1.333

1.615

10/5= 2

Party C

6th PR

1.333

1.615

10/6=1.667

Party C

7th PR

1.333

1.615

10/7= 1.429

Party B

8th PR

1.333

42/27= 1.556

1.429

Party B

9th PR

1.333

42/28= 1.5

1.429

Party B

10th PR

1.333

42/29= 1.448

1.429

Party B

11th PR

1.333

42/30= 1.4

1.429

Party C

12th PR

1.333

1.4

10/8= 1.25

Party B

13th PR

1.333

42/31= 1.355

1.25

Party B

14th PR

1.333

42/32= 1.3125

1.25

Party A

15th PR

48/37= 1.297

1.3125

1.25

Party B

16th PR

1.297

42/33= 1.273

1.25

Party A

17th PR

48/38= 1.263

1.273

1.25

Party B

18th PR

1.263

42/34= 1.235

1.25

Party A

19th PR

48/39= 1.231

1.235

1.25

Party C

20th PR

1.231

1.235

10/9= 1.11

Party B

Total MPs

38

34

8

Party A

Party B

Party C

% of votes

48%

42 %

10%

No of FPTP MPs

35

25

0

No of PR seats

3

9

8

Total

38

34

8

Before the allocation of PR seats, the most successful Party A has a clear majority of 10 seats.

After the allocation of PR seats, it is in minority. It has only 38 MPs while the other two parties have a combined 42 MPs. Another striking feature is the emergence of the radical party which had elected no MPs and was rejected by the people, but through PR, manages to nominate 8 MPs.

* Published in print edition on 13 March 2015

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published.