Tag Archives: RRA

Proportional Representation: A Post-mortem Analysis

Someone rightly said: “Experience is the best teacher.” The outcome of the recent regional elections in Rodrigues has a lot to offer in terms of whether the PR (proportional representation) system in its actual form does real justice to the parties and the candidates who actually stood for the elections. The euphoria of the overwhelming victory has quickly been overshadowed by confusion and frustration on the winning side, while the distress of the defeated party, on the other hand, has been patched up with the allocation of five additional seats.
Serge Clair, leader of the OPR, expressed his concern over not being allocated any additional seats based on PR. He went even further with the grudge that the gap between his party and the opposition, which was eight just after the poll results, has been narrowed down to three after the allocation of PR seats to the opposition. Indeed he has a claim, but the law is such that there’s nothing he can do about it in the foregoing.
Conversely, Nicolas Von Mally, leader of the MR, said it was only legitimate that his party be allocated the additional five seats based on the formula adopted by the Electoral Commission in conformity with the legal provisions.

 

But the problem of the PR does not stop at these controversial stands. The issue is pertinent to the party that has got lesser number of returned candidates as it is to the winning one. It is still more pertinent, in my view, to the candidates themselves, especially those who have not been returned. The system doesn’t seem to do justice to candidates who had struggled hard to canvass people and who have not been able to get elected, some with a low margin, while those in the PR party list have found their way to the RRA without, so to say, substantial effort. So far so good. There’s nothing illegitimate in that. It’s the system. We need to abide.
The PR system has been introduced to restore balance between the winning party and the unsuccessful one. It’s a good form of checks and balances for democracy in aiming at preventing the route to dictatorship with an absolute majority. Democracy seems to function better when there are matching forces. So the PR system proves to be useful in making appropriate adjustments towards this end. The formula adopted is excellent in bringing the right balance.
Opinions and remarks are being voiced out from various quarters through the social media regarding the pertinence of the system. The people are getting more and more concerned in trying to understand the working of such system. It may appear simple and complicated at the same time. It’s not the aim of this article to probe into the mathematics of the system.
The system, as it is, seems to be discriminatory towards candidates who actually stood for the elections. Why stand for an election when you can have a seat without doing so, in particular if it may, rightly or wrongly, be anticipated that the party has a lesser chance of forming the “government”? This is a question that requires some attention and has a direct bearing on those in the PR party list.
I am not making any insinuations, but let’s figure out the following scenario. The PR party list candidates may not put in the required effort; worse, they may even campaign against their own party (although this is unethical – well, after all what is ethics in politics?) to ensure there is minimum number of elected candidates within their party so that they in turn can secure a seat through the PR. (The more the number of elected candidates in a party the lesser the chance of a candidate in that PR party list to be nominated and vice versa).

 

Such scenario was reported to have happened in previous elections. It’s very unfair towards those who stood as candidates, struggled hard in the field attempting to convince people to vote for them (with all the risks associated when faring in hostile grounds). These unreturned candidates find themselves outside the assembly (in “carreau cane” as we say in the Mauritian jargon or “dans bois” in the Rodriguan jargon). Don’t forget that the winner today may be the defeated tomorrow. There’s no room for complacency.
My intention is not to question the system out of the blue. I have no problem with the nominees of party list (congratulations for those nominated). It’s not a question of the “persons” in the list; rather the list itself. My concern is the “source” for the allocation of additional seats. The party list does not seem to be a fair source. It may be fraught with the issues highlighted earlier. The choice would appear fairer, in my opinion, if the allocation were made among the best losers.
It appears that we are confronted with a situation that seems to be unfair. If matters can improve for the betterment of democracy there’ll be no reason to make a creak. I’m just putting it to the political and electoral gurus to give some thought to such scenarios, most often than not unpredictable, with a view to coming up with a fairer and more equitable framework that will do better justice to those who are actually in the forefront of the battle field. I am of the considered view that the allocation of seats on the system of PR needs to take on board best losers. In other words, a system of PR based on BLS (best loser system). Remember it’s not a question of community or ethnic belonging here. It’s purely national.
“L’intérêt national doit primer” as they say.

Alfa King Memories

Election Time in Rodrigues

After a little more than one month of intense electoral campaign, electors in Rodrigues (an island about 650 kms to the east of Mauritius and forming part of the Republic of Mauritius, but with a distinct form of regional government) will be called upon to vote for members of the Rodrigues Regional Assembly (RRA) on Sunday 12 February 2017. Such election takes place every five years.

The party having the majority of elected members will form the “government” headed by a Chief Commissioner and various Commissioners. While the party with a lesser number of returned candidates will be in the opposition headed by a Minority Leader. The RRA meets usually at Port Mathurin, conducting its meeting in the same manner as Parliament with a Chairperson (not necessarily an elected member) assuming the role of Speaker.

The main parties had rallied their supporters on Thursday 9 February. The OPR (Organisation du Peuple Rodriguais), headed by Serge Clair, the actual Chief Commissioner, had convened its people at Malabar in the central part of the island, while the MR (Mouvement Rodriguais) headed by Nicolas Von Mally (ex-Minister), met at Mourouk near the seaside.

Each party claims to have gathered a greater number of people around their electoral manifesto containing their vision for the development of the island. The MR is calling for a change with the motto “Ler sanzman fine arriver” (It’s time for change) while the OPR is reiterating another mandate to allow them to continue with their so called ongoing development programme.

Except for some minor isolated cases of clashes between supporters of adversarial parties (which form part of the electoral folklore) no major incident is to be deplored, fortunately. Resources have been supplied by mainland Mauritius to ensure the smooth running of the election.

Security has been reinforced to minimise incidents as far as is reasonably practicable. A broadcast station has been established at Les Cocotiers Hotel to relay timely news and videos in addition to the local MBC station at Citronelle. The Electoral Commissioner has given strict instructions to ensure all related exercises are carried out at their best.

Electors are invited to exercise their rights by casting their votes in all confidentiality. The counting of votes will be effected on Monday 13 and allocation of additional seats on the basis of proportional representation will be done at 06.00 pm on same day, as announced by the Electoral Commissioner.

The last RRA elections were held in February 2012.

 

Alfa King Memories