“I came to very clearly believe that
a form of PR would be harmful to Canada.”
Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada,
Feb 1, 2018 on why he’s sticking with FPTP
“You can have any colour
as long as it is black.”
Henry Ford, about the Model T, 1909
It’s clear to anyone who doesn’t want to get hoodwinked that the electoral reform recently presented by the PM will turn our country into an autocracy with leaders appointing MPs, suppress dissent which is the lifeblood of democracies and make it a lot more difficult for voters to keep politicians out of our National Assembly (NA).
See in 2014 voters surgically tossed out many politicians to say down with proportional representation (PR), second republic and other rubbish. That’s a big weapon we have and which we’ve used before against two other outgoing PMs. Not only we shouldn’t let anyone take it away from us but it is necessary that we make it even more potent as we show below.
Essential Facts and Selection Criteria
We know that the BLS cannot be absorbed (subsumed) into a party list because leaders are under no legal obligation whatsoever to line up candidates from more than one community and that our NA is way too big. Also, leaders of major political parties don’t need dangerous party lists to start having a diverse list of candidates. They’ve been doing that for eleven general elections.
It is also crucial to acknowledge that bato languti – the reason for the BLS – never docked in Port-Louis. Instead the First Past The Post (FPTP) system, progressive taxation and good decisions we took have provided impressive opportunities for rapid upward social mobility to all communities and we’ve come a long long way. It’s good to note that the first female President and the first female VPM to give just two examples don’t appear to be Hindu women. We’re not a rainbow nation. We’re more of a masala nation. And boy is that tasty!
More Criteria to Evaluate Electoral Reform Options
Government formation and stability are two other criteria. We want our electoral system to generate a clear winner fast. Election after election. Stability should also be evaluated at the time alliances collapsed. FPTP produced a few extreme imbalances but we shouldn’t get so academic about this that we design something which is vote wise outcome stupid. Accountability is important too. We want our MPs to be accountable to us and not to their leaders or party list managers.
So, How Do the Major Proposals Stack Up?
It’s obvious that our current system has done a fantastic job (see 1). It scores well on government formation and on the two stability criteria. Our FPTP system has also blessed us with only 11 general elections over 47 years with governments lasting 4.3 years on average. This has enabled us to do very well until the flat tax pushed us into a plutocracy.
The second proposal is by Sithanen (2012) which is almost identical to those of Ramgoolam and Berenger (RS/NR/PB). It’s a proposal which is HYPERLINK « https://youtu.be/QGz5KoAsKz4″deeply flawed as it would create serious problems at the stage of government formation and would have melted the big majorities produced to dangerous levels. Dangerous enough for several Mauritian governments to fall after a partner left them.
In fact the simulations he used to conclude that his model does a fine job have been done only at the time the vote counting ended which makes his analysis seriously detached from reality. Another flaw is that 20 MPs are added to parliament irrespective of the election results. This would have generated 220 additional MPs over the past five decades or three times more than our FPTP system. His proposal would also make voter surgery on massively incompetent politicians trickier and literally institutionalise political dynasties – which is why many politicians are for PR. PJ’s proposal is as dangerous as Sithanen’s. And it has already been widely rejected.
A Proposal So We Can Have a Colour Other Than Black
It’s disinterested as I am not desperate to use a toxic electoral proposal to please a couple of party leaders so I get another potential shot at sinking Mauritius as my name will be very high on a LP/MMM party list. My approach instead takes our excellent FPTP setup as starting point and makes a small and very careful tweak. It transforms the 8 ethnic best losers into 6 non-ethnic and conditional best losers. That is the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) would allocate up to 6 additional seats to the unsuccessful candidates with the largest vote shares that were not in the winning alliance or party so that we always end up with an opposition of at least 6 MPs.*
This change keeps all the advantages of our current setup plus it would have given oppositions that are 50% larger and better when we needed them the most ( HYPERLINK « http://morisk.blogspot.com/2016/09/thoughts-on-electoral-reform-4.html »SSR and SAJ would have been the first to get additional seats in their 60-0), would not have plunged us into a perpetual political crisis like the proposals of RS and PJ and would have generated only 15 additional seats over the past 11 elections. Seriously, who would want to tamper with a result of 38-22, 41-19 or 39-21 with mathematical skills that are overrated?
Back On the Edge of a Political Precipice Too Quickly
We thrashed a wicked plan of a scheming trio in 2014. And less than four years later we’re way too close to another calamity. It would take only for PB to say yes to PJ’s proposal or to something as evil for us to veer into an autocracy. Plus we know that politicians can do a lot of damage during a term. How do we fix this? Essentially with three tools. One is recall elections. It’s HYPERLINK « https://morisk.blogspot.com/2018/04/recall-elections-is-key-to-better.html »a tool for us to potentially dump a lousy MP between two general elections. It’s a lovely antidote for affermage.
We Need More Democracy, Not Less
The next one is statute referendums (SR). This allows voters to have a bill or policy withheld and even reversed. With a SR we would have been able to cancel the tax on interest income that killed our savings culture, reversed the Sithanen flat tax that has caused several years of GDP to go missing, saved Promenade Roland Armand, roll back the billion-rupee gifts to a dead industry, prevented our rupee from being mistaken for a Christmas pudding, reverse a controversial beach deproclamation, cancel the identity card project, reinstate the demerit point system and more. The final tool is the initiated constitutional amendment (ICA). This is something voters can use to bring changes to our constitution like chopping off the BLS and adding creole as an official language.
The Best Course of Action
Ask voters for their permission and opinions about these and other surprising challenges to basic common sense in a referendum (see 2). This would enable Lepep to fulfill the 9th of 12 commandments of its social contract which includes (see page 7 of their electoral manifesto) « Il y aura des référendums obligatoires pour des questions cruciales concernant l’Etat ». Then use the results to fine-tune any proposal that doesn’t assume we are morons.
*My preferred setup of 42 single-member constituencies would use a maximum of four additional seats.