PREMLALL MAHADEO

In an era where change is the permanent scenario, adaptability becomes imperative to avoid the same fate as experienced by the dodo.

Many nations have lost their soul in this uphill task of failing to adapt and get accepted by those who are the very tools of it.

Even political systems no longer work the traditional way. The Constitution as a political blueprint written half a century back by a handful of communal geniuses and idols imbued with ideological bearings is no longer fully functional.

Should Questioning the Constitution be construed as blasphemous?

The Mauritian society unlike our Constitution has continued to change at a frenzied pace. Mind-boggling arrays of vexing problems which could not even have been conceptualised at the time of its creation weigh heavily upon the Mauritian society today.

Many countries have no written Constitutions.

While it is justified to look upon the Constitution for its symbolic greatness and for what it represents we have also experienced how amendments prompted by political motives were tried to subvert democratic principles when the Labour and MMM Parties were seeking to transfer certain executive authority from Parliament to the Presidency thus sowing the seeds of dictatorship. But Mauritians were not led by their nose.

Another perception refers to that aspect of the constitution that is fully and tendentiously exploited is the right to remain silent which the Constitution allows and which seems to be a god given gift to corrupt politicians, notorious drug dealers and hardened criminals and even certain of our leaders.

Who is not aware of those shrewd intellects that look and cling upon the Constitution more for their beliefs instead of what it is? In such circumstances the very idea that government is moral becomes outdated and broken. Then, should such a contract continue to be worshipped as the supreme law of the Mauritian Nation?

Why treat the Constitution as a supreme gift beamed to us by unearthly powers?

We are now living in a different political situation to that which existed during the ‘classic era’ of mass politics, when people’s loyalty to traditional mainstream parties such as the Labour Party and the MMM were much stronger and political battles were mainly fought over questions about economic redistribution and ethnicity.

Today, our political systems are grappling with major changes which include higher rates of volatility at elections, and a growing willingness among our electorate to back parties like the MSM which was, until recently, credited with not more than 8 percent of the population, against the backdrop of stronger feelings of alienation and apathy, especially among our youth.

Few pundits saw the November election results coming. Although we live in an era when we have more data than ever before, hardly anyone successfully read the public mood. We think this because too many people focus on the short term and fail to take into account the historic shifts in our politics and our values that are now having profound effects on the outcome of our elections.

We can easily observe a growing disaffection with the traditional and established parties  because most of our voters have understandable concerns about the fact that these so-called ‘socialist and left-wing parties’ are not representative of our society as a whole and, if anything, are becoming ever more cut adrift from the average man on the street and the rural electorate whom these parties treat with contempt and take for granted, while indulging in high rhetoric about changing the fortunes of the ‘tidimounn’ who rightly feel that they no longer have a voice in the national conversation.

Those who voted overwhelmingly for the MSM party – which was dismissed by many observers as heavily dependent on crutches to win, question the way in which the so-called socialist but now elitist parties who claim to have deep historic roots in struggling for the rights of those left out and left behind have become more and more isolated from the lives and concerns of ordinary people. They question why the current economic settlement is creating a highly unequal society and leaving swathes of people behind, and not according priority in welfare to pensioners, for example, who have spent their lives paying into the national pot through their taxes. This explains the distrust of political leaders like Navin Ramgoolam and Paul Berenger whose growing distance from ordinary people has led to disenchantment from mainstream parties.

Political shocks like the overwhelming victory of the MSM signal that we are nearing the end of political volatility, or instead are closer to the beginning of a new period of great change where the opportunities will flow by themselves in the manner of water finding its own level.

Can we still afford the fun of continuing to experiment with traditional political parties? All zeroes do not make one.

Will the MSM style of governance – bereft of any ideological roots, being neither left nor right, albeit ‘populist’ in style and substance – have a powerful effect on our politics for many years to come? 

That is the question we need to come to terms with.