Proposals for Electoral Reform in Mauritius – An Initiative of Mauritius Economic Society

The Mes Economic Society is a social organization which was launched in 1962 to promote the study of Economics at SC and HSC level. Our country was faced with serious economic constraints and the political class lacked the expertise needed to combat the problems of overpopulation, unemployment and the servicing of public debt which had plagued the social life of every family of the Mauritian population. Today, many of our patrons (late Mr Mohamed Vayid, late Dr Yip Tong and others) are no longer with us but their contributions have helped the country to find solutions to pertinent national issues. 

Lately, our founder members, namely Mr Siva Pragassen Naidoo, Mr Ramduth Juddoo, Mr Deva Soobramanien, Mr Atma Jadoonundun, Mr Luckoo and other cadres of the association who have served the country at various national and international levels have revived it with the help of some young-old blood like Hari Permal and Vijay Chandreeka Ahku. The Society is back on the scene to discuss and debate on national issues and the first of this kind is the Presentation of Proposals for Electoral Reform in Mauritius. We are producing a complete document with a brief political history of Mauritius after 1810 till now.

As a responsible nation, we have a moral obligation to implement the verdict of the Human Rights Commission of the United Nations which has condemned Mauritius regarding the Declaration of Ethnicity by candidates for general elections. This verdict was pronounced in August 2012 and we were given a time gap of 6 months to come forward with a solution. But since March 2013, this period ‘de grace ‘ is over. The Government had responded to the prestigious international body and had requested for some more time to conduct a popular consultation and then come forward with a solution. We are still awaiting the White Paper.

The Mauritius Economic Society started following the events when the case was lodged to the Privy Council and the Human Rights Commission. After many debating sessions, we are pleased to provide five proposals which we think will not only help the country to abide with the resolutions of the Human Rights Commission but also help to correct many anomalies which have sprung in our electoral system which was framed in 1966 by the Banwell Report.

In our first proposal, we suggest that

1.The present constituencies be dissolved because the number of voters in each one of them shows a huge disparity ( Constituency No 2 has 23 000 voters and elects 3 MP’s while Constituency No 14 has 60 000 voters and also elects 3 MP’s). This is a glaring, huge mismatch.

2. New electoral wards be created with nearly the same number of voters. The towns are already divided into wards for the Municipal elections and we can use the same. We have regrouped all the villages of the same district and divided them into wards with nearly the same number of voters. Thus the country has been divided into 67 wards and Rodrigues into 2 wards.

3. We suggest that we shift from the 3-member constituencies to single member wards. That is each ward will elect only one candidate. In a one to one contest, it will be easy to get the exact percentage of party allegiance of voters.

4. The Best Loser System is subsumed but we have provided a mechanism to ensure that that all communities are adequately represented. This has been guaranteed by the Constitution and not entrusted to the political Leaders.

5. The problem of Women’s representation has been tackled and has been linked to political funding by the state.

6. We have made provision for the election of the leaders of the two most successful parties so that they are assured to be Prime Ministers and Leaders of the Opposition.

Mauritius Economic Society

* Published in print edition on 23 August 2013

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