Dear Prime Minister

Proposals to ensure  government stability, party fairness and socio demographic inclusion and gender equality

Following the publication of the document on electoral reform on Friday 21 st September  , I have pieced together this short paper to provide an insight into the proposals made by Government .

This is ‘une action citoyenne’ .

The aim is to offer a principled and practical compromise that could potentially be used as a discussion document to reach an acceptable reform agenda among the different political actors.

I note that you are open to suggestions from other political parties, civil society and the population at large. This is indeed  commendable and absolutely essential as the report in its current shape and form is unlikely to garner the required support because of its numerous flaws and shortcomings. It is my humble view that some major and minor modifications are necessary to attain the goal of electoral reform .

My informed and considered opinion , based on extensive research on electoral systems and reforms in over 100 countries and especially in those which are multi ethnic, multi religious and multi cultural , is as follows :

The report of Government contains

  1. Some good recommendations for an effective ,strong and stable electoral system ;
  2. Two major flaws that negate two very key objectives of any reform in a plural and democratic society ;
  3. Two shortcomigs that can easily be rectified;
  4. Two ‘omissions’.

I shall deal with each of them and also suggest a pathway to reach a fair compromise among the three major drivers of the electoral reform .

These are

  1. to strike a balance between the necessity for fairness ( as reflected by a lowering of the disparity between votes and seats ) and the imperative of stability to govern the country;

 

  1. to ensure that all segments of our rainbow nation participate and feel included and represented in the political process. Diversity of representation is key in plural country. Not a mirror one but certainly a broad reflection of the society we live in;

 

  1. to end the chronic , systematic and endemic absence of women in the highest decision making political bodies of the country .

 

 

  1. What should be retained in the reform agenda

 

We should keep the following recommendations contained in the document

  1. the 20 FPTP three-member constituencies in the island of Mauritius . Whether one adds a third member to Rodrigues to make it a three member constituency is not very material to the resolution of the three problems mentioned above. However it does make it easy to ensure gender fairness ;
  2. the 63 FPTP seats should remain the main pillar of our mixed system so as to give a fillip to stability and governability. FPTP will account for 77.8 % of all seats while PR will represent 14.8 % and the new BL seats 7.4 % . Essentially the absolute winner of the FPTP, defined as a party with a majority of 50 % of seats plus one seat ( 32 FPTP seats out of 63 such seats) should emerge as the overall winner. We can even include reasonable conditions to guarantee that eventuality . But certainly not the unacceptable requirement to restore the mathematical majority of the FPTP outcome which defeats the very purpose of the reform ;
  3. the elimination of the requirement for a candidate to declare its community belonging to stand for General elections. The UNHRC gave us a choice between an update of the 1972 census and a non –community based electoral system. In the circumstances, that is the better solution. The alternative would open a pandora’s box as there will be a floodgate of requests for many more than the arbitrary choice of the four existing communities. We cannot and should not balkanise our young nation. However this should not be confused with the imperative for participation, inclusion , diversity and representation in all democratic institutions by all segments of our deeply plural society. Especially as competence and merit are broadly based ;
  4. the 10 % of votes to be eligible for PR seats and to the restyled BL seats. As well articulated by all electoral experts , it will avoid a fragmentation of the political system that could imperil the stability of Government with many small parties holding the majority to ransom. It could also threaten social harmony and national cohesion with the risks of many single issue parties , based on narrow identity agendas;

 

  1. The two lethal flaws that are killing the reform

 

  1. The very purpose of electoral reform is to lower the huge disparity between votes and seats so as to be fair to unsuccessful parties while ensuring the stability of the system with a reasonable margin of seats to govern the country. The provision to restore the mathematical difference in seats as it exists after the FPTP elections, subsequent to the allocation of the 12 PR and the 6 neo BL seats negates the very objective of the reform  which is to decrease the inordinate disparity between votes and seats .  What is the purpose of transforming  a FPTP result of 38-22 ( difference of 16 seats on the 60 in the Island of Mauritius in 2005) into a final outcome of 47 to 31 ( a difference again of 16 seats) . The size of the majority does not change at 16 seats.  We are simply giving an equal number of seats to the two parties .  It serves no democratic purpose at all and would be an utter waste of public funds  .

 

Your team can do the simulations to demonstrate the futility of this proposal.

 

I have enclosed an annex to that effect .

 

It is simply antinomic and very contradictory .

 

  1. Clause 5 (1) of the First Schedule of the Constitution speaks of the need

‘ to ensure a fair and adequate representation of each community’.

The Constitution goes on to explain in fine details how such fair and adequate representation should mathematically be achieved by comparing the share of each of the four communities in the population census to the share of the 62 FPTP elected representatives. The identified underrepresented communities  are then compensated with Best Loser seats until either their census ratio is reached or there is not enough seats to make it a full ‘ fair and adequate representation’.

 

With the abolition of the existing Best Loser System , there is an absolute need to ensure that the representation of some groups is as close as possible to a ‘fair and adequate representation’ through a different mechanism . I shall use the example of General Population to illustrate the risks even if other segments could also face a problem of inclusion.  The GP has a deemed size of the population of 30.709 % ( population census of 1972) while its average share of FPTP seats for the 11 elections since 1967 stands at 25.1 % . After the allocation of the 8 BL seats as provided by the Constitution to ensure a ‘fair and adequate representation’ , its share of total seats rises to 29.1 %. There will never be mirror representation as claimed by some people. However the increase from 25.1 %  to 29.1 % is crucially dependent on the allocation of 6 BL seats out of a total of 8 such seats to GP. By doing away with the current BL system , the GP will be immediately short  of those 6 BL seats . This is based on a Parliament of 70. If the number of seats rises to 81, they would legitimately expect a fair share of the increase. As the 12 PR seats would be allocated on a closed and ranked Party list without double candidacies, and as all parties would want to  present a balanced slate ( there are around 11 groups in our country for the purpose of fielding candidates at elections), the number of GP likely to be returned would be around 3 or a maximum 4  ( I have carried out about 50 simulations of the likely list of the three/four main parties in terms of the different groups). GP will thus have fewer seats on 75 MPs ( 63 FPTP and 12 PR ) than they currently have with 70 seats ( 62 FPTP and  8 BL seats). It is unlikely that the 6 neo BL seats being proposed would be able to compensate only GP as other groups also would be underrepresented ( and we all know who they are likely to be )  . As a result, GP could end up with around 26.5 % of seats compared to the current 29.1 % and its estimated population share of 30.709 %. This would cause huge discontent when the results would be proclaimed. Hence the resistance of some people against the abolition of the BL seats as it provides Constitutional safeguards that are automatically triggered in the event of Parliamentary underrepresentation.

 

I strongly believe we should introduce a mechanism to assure that their representation would be close to its current level , adjusted for the new number of seats at 81 . The proposed  6 post BL seats simply does not give such comfort. It will in fact lead to a poorer representation of some groups compared to what is guaranteed by the Constitution through the BLS .

 

I have provided the workings  in one of the annexed tables

 

There are other groups also that would face similar problems. However it is more pronounced for GP because of its much higher share of the population .

 

  1. What needs to be revisited to lower the inequality between votes and seats

 

The number of PR seats at 12 ( representing 14.8 % of the 81 seats) is too low to have a material impact on the huge difference between votes and seats that happens in many elections. However we could easily combine the 12 PR seats with the 6 neo BL seats to reach a total of 18 PR seats. Ideally we should raise it to 20 PR seats to a total number of seats of 83. There would be 63 FPTP ( 76 % ) and 20 PR ( 24 %) seats. But if you insist on 18 PR seats , it should not be a major problem ;

 

  1. There is absolutely no rationale for two sets of new MPs ( PR and post BLS), one appointed by the independent Electoral Supervisory Commission on a rule- based formula and a known system and the other by party leaders . The two can easily be folded into one Party list as it exists in all countries with a mixed system. The PR list should provide for broad based and inclusive representation. Parties should simply practice what they preach as they know fully well who are likely to be underrepresented. If they field candidates fairly , there is no necessity for additional insurance to be exercised by a single leader on the basis of his absolute discretion after the elections;

 

  • However I understand their concern even if I do not share it. Should some political parties insist on the flexibility of leaders to appoint the new BL Mps to ensure socio demographic diversity and if it is a deal breaker , we could easily provide ( even if I strongly disagree with the policy) for a formula whereby the first 14 of the PR seats ( out of the 20 PR seats) would be allocated on a closed and ranked party list while the last 6 would be on the same closed but not necessarily on a ranked basis . As the pre established PR list to be submitted to the EC before polling would be a long one, a leader could potentially skip the candidate at number 10 to choose one at number 15 as long as it is for the last 6 PR seats ( he cannot do it for the first 14 PR seats which must be appointed by the ESC on the basis of the ranked list ) . It is only a flexibility and not a mandatory requirement. The leader may decide to leave the list as submitted by rank.

 

A simple algorithm can accomplish that task  .

 

 

  1. The method of allocating the 12 ( or 18 as the case may be with a combination of the PR and neo BL seats)

 

The report has chosen the worst method of allocating the PR seats with the parallel mode.

 

The parallel mode allocates PR seats on the basis of the percentage of votes of each eligible party ( those that have polled at least 10 % of votes ). It does not take into account the huge disparity between votes and seats resulting from the FPTP outcome. In fact , it widens the majority of the winner of the FPTP as that party will also , in 99 % of elections, have a higher percentage of vote than the unsuccessful party. This has been the case in all 11 FPTP elections since 1967. The party that won more seats was also the one with the higher share of votes . However there was huge inequality in vote/seat share.

 

This is why the simulations given in the reform document is totally and absolutely wrong. It assumes that the losing party will take a higher number of the 12 PR seats ( 7 in Table A and 6 at Table C )  . Dangerously, the report goes on to draw the wrong conclusion and recommends that the 6 new BLS seats are used to compensate the winner whose majority has come down ( by 2 in the report at Tables A and C ). This is completely incorrect. If PR seats are allocated on the parallel system ( Sachs A) , in the overwhelming number of  elections, the winner of the FPTP will also have more PR seats. The unsuccessful party cannot secure more PR seats as alleged in report.

 

I have annexed a summary of the workings for all 11 elections. At best both parties will have the same number of PR seats when their vote shares are very close ( in 1983 and in 1987 for the MMM) .

 

The report is also wrong in its analysis of the 1987 elections at Table C. Both alliances would take 6 seats each as the share of vote was very close at 49.86 % for the MSM/LP/PMSD and 48.12 % for the MMM.

 

It is only in the very rare case of a party with much fewer votes ( say 40 % of votes ) winning an absolute majority of FPTP against a party with 50 % of votes that such an eventuality could arise . It has never occurred in Mauritius since 1967.

 

The wrong conclusion is then drawn to compensate the FPTP winner with more seats .

 

In fact it is the unsuccessful party that will,  in the overwhelming number of cases, have to be compensated as it is doubly penalised. First at the level of the FPTP elections and second with the allocation of the 12 PR seats.

 

I have enclosed a table to that effect .

 

The sequence of the allocation of seats is plainly flawed .

 

The right sequence should be as follows

 

  1. First , election of the 63 FPTP Mps;
  2. Second the selection of the 12 PR seats to correct for the huge inequality between votes and seats for unsuccessful parties ;
  • Third, the choice of the 6 neo- BLS seats to compensate IF REQUIRED the FPTP winner in case the difference in seats between the FPTP winner and the unsuccessful party has come down too much to threaten its seat majority after the allotment of the 12 PR seats. Certainly never to restore the mathematical balance that existed after the FPTP outcome ( as it would defeat the very essence of the reform ) but to a reasonable difference in seats to ensure the stability and governability of the system .

I have worked out that fair number and can share

This is not how the report has proceeded . Hence the anomalous result which is being rejected by almost all political actors.

Instead of the report curing the anomaly of the FPTP with the 12 PR seats, it in fact amplifies it by giving more PR seats to the FPTP winner. This does not make sense.

That is the very reason why the parallel mode ( Sachs A ) was totally and comprehensively spurned by Sachs ,Tendon and Ahnee  and by the Select Committee chaired by Collendavelloo. It simply does not remedy the massive anomaly between votes and seats. It was also rejected by some UK electoral experts who were consulted by the 2014 Government ( including a well known electoral specialist ,  Professor Curtice) .

 

  1. A pathway to resolve the anomaly of the allocation method of the 12 PR seats ( or 19 if combined with the post BL seats)

There are essentially two broad ways of distributing the PR seats

  1. The parallel mode ( Sachs A);
  2. The compensatory mode ( Sachs C)

While many people grasp the difference between FPTP and PR systems, they do not always make the fundamental distinction between a parallel PR ( as proposed in Model A of Sachs) and a compensatory PR ( as recommended in Model C of Sachs), when used in tandem with FPTP. This is currently a major source of confusion in the mind of many well-intentioned persons.

It is all about a good understanding of the mathematics of electoral system. Unfortunately many do not fully understand the consequences of either mode .

Parallel PR allocates the PR seats to parties in relative proportion to their votes. It does not take into account the possibly disproportionate number of constituency seats they have won. It could thus be unfair and unrepresentative as it may lead to huge disparities between overall votes and total seats. By contrast, constituency seats won are taken into account in the compensatory PR. The method aims to align the total seats ( constituency plus PR) of each party to its votes. A party which has obtained more ( less) constituency seats than deemed by its share of votes will receive less ( more) or no PR seats. Because of its fairness features, the compensatory formula is adopted by some democracies that have a mixed model. This is the case in New Zealand, Germany, Scotland and Wales. It has also been adopted by Lesotho which has moved from a FPTP to a mixed FPTP/PR system

The Table below illustrates the major difference between the parallel and the compensatory method of allocating PR seats in a mixed FPTP/PR electoral model.

The election of 1995 is  used as a worked example.

          Difference between Parallel and Compensatory method of  allocating PR seats

FPTP/Parallel PR FPTP/Compensatory PR
1995 % votes FPTP PR Total % seats   FPTP PR Total % seats
    seats seats seats     seats Seats seats  
LP/MMM 65.2 60 9 69 93.2 60 0 60 81.1
MSM/RMM 19.7 0 3 3 4.1 0 12 12 16.2
Others 15.1 2 0 2 2.7 2 0 2 2.7
Total 100 62 12 74 100 62 12 74 100
Seat majority 58 64 58 46

 

In 1995, the parallel mode, which disregards the fact that MSM/RMM did not receive a single seat for 19.7 % of the votes in FPTP elections, allocates 3 PR seats to the second party and 9 seats to the LP/MMM alliance , based simply on their respective share of votes, after eliminating parties that do not meet the threshold to be eligible for these PR seats. The final outcome is 69 seats for the LP/MMM and only 3 seats for MSM/RMM. It is highly disproportional with MSM/RMM attracting only  4.1 % of seats for 19.7 % of votes. Worse ,the seat majority of the FPTP winner rises from 58 after FPTP elections to 64 subsequent to  the allocation of the 12 PR seats.

 

The parallel formula is very insignificant in correcting the unfairness of the system.

 

The compensatory method recognises the unfairness of the  FPTP elections and  compensates MSM/RMM for its share of votes using the D’Hondt algorithm . MSM/RMM receives all 12 PR seats as it was severely penalised in the constituencies. The final result is 60 seats for LP/MMM and 12 seats for MSM/RMM . The second party obtains 16.2 % of seats for 19.7 % of votes. There is still a difference between votes and seats but it is much fairer than the parallel mode. The size of the majority decreases from 58 seats after FPTP outcome to 46 seats after the distribution of the 12 PR seats . Which leaves  a large working majority of 46 seats for the winning team. But not the restoration of the FPTP margin of 58 seats which would be a parody of a reform .

 

However the compensatory formula could become a challenge to the stability of the system in very close elections where vote shares are similar like in 1987 ( 49.86 % for the MSM/LP/PMSD and 48.12 %  for the MMM ) and seat shares are wide ( 39 seats for the MSM/LP/PMSD to 21 FPTP seats for the MMM) . It would allocate most if not all of the PR seats to the unsuccessful party in such a way that the margin of FPTP victory would come down very significantly ( in 1987 it would decrease from 18 seats after FPTP to 6 after the allocation of the 12 PR seats).

 

However it is possible to introduce a rider to prevent such risks by having a provision that the majority cannot be lower than a threshold in such cases  .

 

There are essentially three ways to address this risk to stability while lowering the disparity between votes and seats.

 

  1. to accept Sachs C – the compensatory mode- as an allocation method for the PR seats. However to avoid the risks to stability , we could introduce a clause to impose an upper threshold on the share of total seats accruing to all unsuccessful parties combined. The margin could be 12 % of seats which guarantees an overall majority of at least 10 seats to the winner of the FPTP elections should its FPTP margin be higher than 10 seats ( as in 1987) .

Again the algorithm is a simple one ;

 

  1. to have a dual system to allocate the seats. Sachs C works well when distortions are massive such as in 1982,1995,1991,2000 and 2014. However Sachs A could deliver safer majority in closely held contests ( 1967, 1983,1987,2005). Again it is not difficult to establish the switch over between the two modes based on the difference in seats after FPTP results. A 60-0 of 1982 and 1995 will be treated differently from a 39-21 of 1987 and a 38-22 of 2005 . It looks slightly complicated but it strikes a very good balance between fairness to parties and the stability of government .

 

Again there are algorithms to handle these cases;

 

  • to have a totally new formula to allot these PR seats as there are risks with both the parallel and compensatory modes. I have suggested the ‘every vote counts’ system that is a hybrid between the parallel and the compensatory modes. It delivers fair results in case of 60-0 or close to it ( 1991 and 2000) while producing a majority of seats for the FPTP winner to govern. And it safeguards the majority of the winner in closely fought elections ( 1987) as the winner also will secure PR seats unlike the compensatory model where all PR seats go to the second party.

 

It is not perfect but it works;

 

There is no perfect model. However some are better than others at striking a reasonable balance between fairness to parties and the stability of government .

 

  1. What could be done to give assurances that are close to what is contained in the Constitution as compensation for underrepresented groups

First , it is good to retain  three member constituencies as they ensure a balanced slate of candidates. Second we may have to tolerate some malapportionment of constituencies to afford a reasonable chance for some segments of our nation  to have a fair share of seats in Parliament.  This is specially the case for two small constituencies that return 66 % of FPTP MPs from one community. Third political leaders should practise what they preach by being fair in the fielding of candidates. Today the BLS makes the automatic correction if there is a shortfall of either candidates being fielded or elected . In its absence ,it is absolutely important to have a balanced slate.

The above will not be sufficient to give comfort. We need further assurances even if it is not possible to replicate the constitutional guarantees and safeguards of the BLS.

 

I am proposing what is used in some countries to give a second chance to candidates who are not elected often because of split vote ( similar to the second chance given by the BL system). The cases of constituencies 1,12,13,18,19 and 20 in the 2014 elections are very revealing.

 

  1. Allow for double candidacies as it exists in Germany, New Zealand, Scotland, Wales and Lesotho . Parties are not compelled to use it but the flexibility should be given . It will provide additional chances to many more candidates to be returned. Without double candidacies, it would have been impossible to retrieve Barbier, Henry ,Lepoigneur, Quirin and Wong as Mps. They lost their FPTP elections but came in as BL Mps. With the proposed system of Government, they would simply be eliminated completely. With double candidacies, they have a good chance of being elected as PR Mp which is similar to what they have had with the BL system.

 

As simple as that.

 

I am very surprised that many have difficulties to understand this ‘second chance’ formula to mirror the BLS ;

 

Even the situation of constituencies 13, 18 and 19 for the Lepep alliance could be salvaged  with double candidacies;

 

  1. Allow for two candidates to be placed on the same rank .

 

Again ,the reason for this is  simple.

 

As all parties would present a balanced slate it may be difficult to get the right sequence of candidates. And the turn of the next person from the same group would come much lower on the rank ( the sequence could be say 4 th , 9 th , 13 th , etc). He will thus not have a second chance. However , if two candidates were placed on the same rank ( especially those who were benefitting from the BLS), this would enhance their chances of being returned as a PR MPs;

 

 

  • While no democratic country appoints MPs on ‘ a look at basis’ after the elections by party leaders , a very large majority appoints some Ministers ( in some cases all Ministers such as in Kenya ,Rwanda, Seychelles and many States ) from outside Parliament to also correct for socio-demographic underrepresentation. The case of French of Muslim or African/Caribbean origin who are appointed as Ministers in France to ensure diversity is an example. It works in a similar way to the flexibility in the appointment of the Attorney –General and the Speaker in our country . You could limit the number to a maximum of 5 or 6 Ministers. It is not mandatory. But it is a flexibility for the PM to make good for some underrepresentation. It should be used in the same manner as for the Attroney-Genaral or the Speaker. A flexibility and not a necessity. If that existed, you could have appointed one of our compatriots from the Marathi Community as Minister ( there is none today) .

 

  1. What could be changed slightly to make the reform fairer and more ethical      

 

  1. The proposal to have a 30 % of women candidates is welcome compared to the very low 11 % representation of women in Parliament and 8 % in the Cabinet.  However, there are huge risks of a difference between candidacies and elected Mps if they are fielded in non- winnable constituencies as has been the case in many countries , including France. We should adopt a fairer formula for our women as is the case for municipal elections. There should be at least one candidate of a different gender in each of the 21 constituencies. This will guarantee more elected women .

 

We should also have a  ‘ zebra’ system for PR candidates and the additional seats to replace the BLS where there is at least one woman for every three candidates  on the Party and other Lists. If the number one on the list is a man (woman) ,then the number two or three must be a woman (man) and so on .  This would ensure fairness  of  gender representation

 

  1. The proposal on ‘crossing of the floor’ could also be improved. To prevent unscrupulous Mps from obtaining personal benefits to change sides, we should go for what exists for municipal elections. Ethically , all Mps should lose their seats in case of floor crossing. They could of course seek a fresh mandate by standing at the ensuing bye election.

 

However I understand the difficulties for some to arbitrate between freedom of opinion /actions and ethical conduct as far as FPTP MPs are concerned as they have been elected nominally  , albeit with the party support. However for the PR seats and the new BL seats, we should follow international best practice. In case of defection, the seats should return to the party that secured them in the first instance. Defecting Mps  should be replaced by the next person/s on the party list or the new BL seats. Whatever the number;

 

  1. Two omissions to be set right

 

  1. Women presence in the Cabinet

 

Women comprise 50.6 % of the population and outnumber men as voters. Yet only a shockingly low 8 % of Ministers are women . It is such a glaring misrepresentation of society.  The equitable participation of women in politics and government is essential to building and sustaining democracy. Also women have all the characteristics to be chosen as candidates and Ministers

 

As aptly argued by Sachs

 

‘The gap between legal and factual quality in the area of power and decision-making is so wide that women’s interests and concerns are not adequately represented at policy levels and women cannot influence key decisions in social, economic and political areas that affect society as a whole’.

and as robustly stated by Australia’s first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard

‘ if the gender balance of a cabinet or parliament does not reflect that of the population, the quality of the debates will simply not be as good as it can and should be’

Over the period 1967-2014, the percentage of women ministers in our country has been around 5 % ( often only one Minister in the Cabinet ) . Not only are women significantly underrepresented but the rate of progress is very slow . This stands in sharp contrast to many countries , irrespective of geography, culture and economic well being , where women are key participants at the highest level of decision-making. The statistics at the Table below powerfully tell the sad story of the persistent missing voice of women in Mauritius’ politics.

Women Minsters across the world

Women Ministers Total Ministers  % Women Ministers
Spain 11 17 64.7
Nicaragua 9 17 52.9
France 8 16 50.0
Canada 15 30 50.0
Rwanda 9 19 47.4
South Africa 15 36 41.7
Albania 8 20 40
Peru 7 19 36.8
Uganda 11 30 36.7
Zambia 10 30 33.3
Dominica 5 16 31.3
Grenada 5 16 31.3
Seychelles 4 13 30.8
Mauritania 8 26 30.8
Mauritius 2 25 8

 

Much of the political decision-making in Mauritius concentrates power in the hands of those already inside the circle, who tend to be men. Is it a case of unconscious bias and prejudice by a club that is controlled by men or a question of self- interest by those who want to keep the gates of power shut out in a fiercely political zero sum game ?. The Table is a clear indication of how ineffective Mauritius is at tapping into the potential talent of 50.6 % of its population. Spain has recently shown the world something remarkably simple. That it is possible to have more women ( 65 % ) than men in the cabinet without the country falling apart. Equally in countries as diverse as France, Canada, Scotland and Rwanda, a gender-balanced Cabinet team works well. And as aptly stated by Prime Minister Trudeau of Canada , the reason for this parity is simply

 

‘because we are in 2018 and the government should look more like the country it serves’

The same should apply to Mauritius. We need a Parliament and a Cabinet that look like the Mauritius of 2018 and 50.6 % of Mauritius is women.

Equally many developing and emerging countries such as Nicaragua, Uganda, Albania, Peru, Dominica, Zambia, Seychelles and even Mauritania have made considerable progress in terms of women’s political inclusion in the council of Ministers within a short span of time . Rwanda, a patriarchal society where women have had historically subordinated roles, has within few years achieved considerable progress on gender equality in politics.

Why can’t Mauritius , a much more advanced and open society, follow in that footsteps.?

Appointing more female ministers is the simplest, most effective way of rebalancing government .

I therefore recommend that the same principle of gender fairness applies for Ministerial posts, PPS and other Parliamentary positions.

We should have at least one third of women Ministers, PPS and in other Parliamentary posts

This is not a favour but a fundamental human right .

 

  1. To choose between one set or two sets of votes

We must decide whether to have one set of vote (three votes per constituency) to return the three Mps per constituency and to aggregate these same votes at the national level to apportion the PR Mps.

Or to have two sets of votes, one for FPTP Mps and a second one which is separate for the party list .

I can shed light on the pros and cons of each of them if necessary

 

  1. Concluding remarks

Even if all systems have both defects and virtues, some are however better than others.  Of course what I have proposed in this short document is certainly not a perfect electoral system but it has the features to provide the most satisfactory overall balance between them in a multi-ethnic society, especially between stability for strong and decisive government and fairness to both political parties and the different segments of our rainbow nation .

It produces stability and effectiveness as it gives a working majority to the winning FPTP party even in hotly contested elections.  It is fair and equitable as it narrows the unacceptable distortion between seats and votes, especially for the second party.  It achieves diversity and inclusion in political representation by using an intelligent combination of the specific features of the FPTP and some well-crafted characteristics of  PR electoral mode.  It is very inclusive of women with the proposal to have at least one woman candidate in each constituency, at least one person of a different gender  out of every three sequential candidates on the Party List and new Best Loser appointments and at least one third of women as Ministers and PPS. It ensures accountability by keeping the essential link between constituents and their elected representatives as around 76 % of Mps will depend on the choice of electors and only 24 % will be chosen by the Party. With a threshold of 10 % to be eligible for PR seats, it will also shun single issue parties, promote harmony and foster nationhood.

Dr Rama Sithanen

21 th September 2018

Quatre Bornes