Mauritius: Electoral system

Updated May 2010

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Legal and institutional framework

Legal basis[1]
  • Constitution of Mauritius 1968; amended 1982, 1983, 1986, 1990, 1991, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001
  • Representation of the People Act of 1968, amended 1976, 1982, 2005
  • National Assembly Elections Regulations (Act 12/68) 1968
  • Rodrigues Regional Assembly Act (Act No 39 of 2001)
  • Local Government Act of 2003
Electoral system The National Assembly has 70 members; 62 members of them are elected by universal adult suffrage in a secret ballot by a block vote system. Mauritius Island is divided into 20 constituencies each of which returns 3 members, while the Island of Rodrigues returns two[2].
Up to eight additional seats are allocated by the Electoral Supervisory Commission according to a complex formula to "best losers" to ensure "a fair and adequate representation of each community".
The President is elected by Parliament[3].
Electoral management bodies (EMBs)[4] Electoral Boundaries Commission (EBC) delimits the boundaries of electoral constituencies
Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) is responsible for the planning, management and supervision elections and referenda.
Electoral Commissioner (EC) is responsible for the logistics and execution of elections.
Independence of EMBs All three bodies are established and guaranteed their independence by the constitution and are autonomous in their functioning[5].
The members of the EBC and the ESC are appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition.
The EC is appointed by the President on the advice of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission.
EMBs stakeholder relations The returning officer for each constituency holds at least one meeting with the candidates and/or campaign managers of political parties prior to elections. The EC does not normally hold meetings with organs of civil society.
Political parties The registration of parties and party alliances is undertaken afresh for each election 14 days before nomination day[6].
Funding of political parties: There is no provision for public funding of political parties. Private funding must be channelled through an nominated election agent who is required to give a full account of all income and expenditures to the returning officer[7].
Civil society Mauritius's well-entrenched tradition of regularly held multiparty elections as well as high voter turnout at each election has allowed it to stay off the radar of civil society concern.
Mass media Mauritius has a vibrant private free press and liberalisation has ended the monopoly and dominance of the state owned Mauritian Broadcasting Corporation (MBC)[8]. Parties are given free airtime by the MBC in proportion to the number of candidates they are fielding[9].

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Election management

Election period and dates[10] National Assembly elections are held every 5 years; the President is elected by the National Assembly every five years.
The president has the power to dissolve Parliament on the advise of the Prime Minister and elections must be held not later than 55 days thereafter.
Delimitation of constituencies Electoral constituencies for the National Assembly are delimited every 10 years by the EBC. The report of the EBC is sent to the National Assembly which approves or rejects the recommendations, but may not vary them; if they are approved then the delimitation takes effect as from the next dissolution of Parliament[11].
Voter registration and voters' rolls Registration is compulsory and continuous, but updated in annual registration drives[12].
Voter registration drives are executed in three phases. Officials from the ECO register voters in annual door-to-door visits. Thereafter a comprehensive network of centres is opened where voters may correct deficiencies that arose in the previous phase. In the final phase the register of voters is published. Mauritian and Commonwealth citizens residing there for two years or more may register.
Voters must present a national identity card or a birth certificate.
Civic and voter education Mauritian democracy is long and well established and the population is educated and highly politicised. Consequently little need for voter education is felt. Prior to a general election, the EC's office keeps the electorate informed of the administrative arrangements for every registration drive through the publication of notices in the local newspapers. Neither state agencies nor civil society organisations undertake voter education[13].
Candidate nomination On nomination day, as determined prior to an election by the President, qualified party and independent candidates are registered. The requirements and disqualifications for candidates are set forth in the constitution[14].
Election observation The Representation of the People Act was amended in 2005 to make provision for international observers and for the issuing of a Code of Conduct governing them[15].
Election campaigns Statutory limitations are set on amounts candidates may spend on campaigning[16].
A Code of Conduct for campaigning by parties and candidates was laid down for the 2010 election.
No limits are placed on the campaign period, but campaigns are officially launched on nomination day, which is 30 days before polling day. Holders of political gatherings are required to provide 7 days' written notice to the commissioner of police. On election day campaigning within 200 metres of a polling station is prohibited[17].
Conflict prevention and management There are no official mechanisms to deal with election related conflict. In the event of electoral disputes, petitions are heard by a court with at least two judges sitting on the bench. Election petitions must be submitted to the courts within 21 days after the date of the return of results[18].
Election staff and logistics Electoral staff may only be appointed to serve as election officers from members of the civil service, provided that they have signified their willingness to serve as such.
Ballot papers and electoral materials: Ballot papers are designed at the EC's Office and are printed at the Government Printing Office, while transparent ballot boxes are utilised for voting. The introduction of electronic voting machines is an option that the EMBs are considering.
The criteria which are used in locating voting stations include accessibility to electors, size of voting population, security, availability and suitability of public buildings, especially schools.
Secrecy of the ballot The voting booth provides adequate seclusion for confidentiality of voting and the voter must fold the paper so as not to reveal the vote. Secrecy is compromised when the blind vote, for the voter is assisted by a polling officer who, after verbal instructions, enters the vote on the ballot paper.
Voting and counting process Each voter is handed a ballot paper and given instructions by the presiding officer as to how to "record a valid vote". Sealed ballot boxes are taken to counting stations under police and agents' escort and guarded by them overnight. The following day counting the votes are counted under the eyes of the party agents[19].
Announcement of results Provisional results are issued periodically. When counting has been completed the Returning Officer compiles the results and declares them publicly. The Returning Officer then submits the returns to the Electoral Commissioner[20].
Electoral reform The deficiencies of the block vote system led to calls for reform and in 2000 the Sachs Commission was constituted which tendered its report in 2001. However, none of the recommendations have been implemented[21].

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Table notes

[1] Constitution of Mauritius 1968; Local Government Act of 2003.
[2] Constitution of Mauritius 1968, First schedule (section 31(2))
[3] Constitution of Mauritius 1968, Chapter IV, Article 28 (2).
[4] Constitution of Mauritius 1968, Articles 38 - 41.
[5] Constitution of Mauritius 1968, Articles 38 - 41.
[6] Constitution of Mauritius 1968, First Schedule, 2.
[7] The Representation of the People Act 1968, 49, 56.
[8] Kadima 2000, Kasenally 2009, 284.
[9] Kasenally 2009, 284.
[10] Constitution of Mauritius 1968, Articles 56, 57.
[11] Constitution of Mauritius 1968, 38, 39.
[12] The Representation of the People Act 1968 (as amended), 4, 9, 12, 24, 25, 36. See also Lodge, et al 2002, 177 - 178; Electoral Commissioner's Office undated.
[13] Darga 2005, 10-11.
[14] Constitution of Mauritius 1968, Article 33, 34.
[15] The Representation of the People Act 1968, 77. See also Chiroro 2005, 1, and Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill 2005.
[16] Representation of the People Act 1968, 49-57.
[17] The Representation of the People Act 1968, 65(2)(d), (3); Lodge, et al 2002, 79.
[18] The Representation of the People Act 1968, 45-48A.
[19] National Assembly Elections Regulations, 1968, 34, 45, 47.
[20] Electoral Commissioner's Office undatedb.
[21] Kasenally 2009, 284.

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References

CONSTITUTION OF MAURITIUS 1968, [www] http://www.gov.mu/portal/site/AssemblySite/menuitem.ee3d58b2c32c60451251701065c521ca/ [opens new window] (accessed 22 Feb 2010).

CHIRORO, B 2005 "The forthcoming election in Mauritius", IN Election Talk, 23, 24 June.

DARGA, A 2005 Election update 2005: Mauritius No 1, EISA, June 17.

ELECTORAL COMMISSIONER'S OFFICE UNDATEDa "Registration", [www] http://www.gov.mu/portal/site/eco/menuitem.61d257cad79ffcba9459d9a365d521ca/ [opens new window] (accessed 22 Feb 2010).

ELECTORAL COMMISSIONER'S OFFICE UNDATEDb "Organisation of Elections", [www] http://www.gov.mu/portal/site/eco/menuitem.604347d7f64775da9459d9a365d521ca/ [opens new window] (accessed 22 Feb 2010)

KADIMA, D 2000 Parliamentary elections 2000 - a report, EISA.

KASENALLY, R 2009 "Chapter 8: Mauritius" IN Denis Kadima and Susan Booysen (eds) Compendium of Elections in Southern Africa 1989-2009: 20 Years of Multiparty Democracy, EISA, Johannesburg, 284.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT ACT OF 2003, [www] http://www.gov.mu/portal/goc/mlge/files/lg_act.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 22 Feb 2010).

LODGE, T, KADIMA, D & POTTIE, D, 2002 Compendium of elections in Southern Africa, EISA.

NATIONAL ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS REGULATIONS (ACT 12/68) OF 1968, [www] http://www.gov.mu/portal/goc/eco/file/naereg68.rtf [MS Word document] (accessed 24 Oct 2007).

REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE ACT, 1968 (AS AMENDED)

REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE (AMENDMENT) ACT 2005, [www] http://www.gov.mu/portal/goc/assemblysite/file/2005/bill8.pdf [PDF document, opens new window] (accessed 22 Feb 2010).

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