Mauritius: Electoral reform

Extracted from: Rouikaya Kasenally 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, 269, 277-278.

Unlike many African countries, Mauritius espouses a ballot rather than a bullet culture. Elections are a regular feature of the post-independent Mauritian political landscape, which has been marked by eight general elections - 1976, 1982, 1983, 1987, 1991, 1995, 2000 and 2005. One should also note that these general elections were accepted by various stakeholders allowing for smooth transitions between the different political contenders. The above has often earned Mauritius the reputation of being a sound and credible democracy. However, over the last 10 years discussions have highlighted the need to introduce constitutional and electoral reforms to ensure a more inclusive and representative form of democracy [See also Main electoral trends [1976-2005] for details on why this was so]. In 2000, the government commissioned the retired South African Judge Albie Sachs to look into the issue of electoral reform. The Sachs Report [2001; see also Darga 2005] made a number of recommendations which highlighted the need to address in a comprehensive and structured manner the issue of constitutional and electoral reform.

Although there seems to be a general consensus among the political stakeholders on the need to introduce a dose of proportional representation (PR) to the existing first-past-the-post (FPTP) system, its implementation seems to have stalled. It is believed that the general election scheduled for 2010 offers a window of opportunity to advocate for some form of change.

However, the Sachs Report emphasised the urgent need to streamline, enhance and strengthen the electoral bodies (ESC and EBC). This was subsequently reinforced by the two select committees set up by government in 2004 (Recommendation on Sachs Report and Funding of Political Parties). In fact, there were a whole series of recommendations made, ranging from empowering the electoral bodies to regulate and monitor political parties' finances during elections [see "Party expenditure" in Political party funding], to enforcing a code of conduct for political parties [see Code of Conduct] as well as encouraging the electoral bodies to invest more significantly in voter education. A number of observers believe that the electoral bodies must have functions and responsibilities beyond elections so that they can regulate, monitor and enforce the various rules in a more sustained manner. It is expected that these changes would be implemented as part of electoral reform.

References

DARGA, LA 2005 Electoral reform: The Sachs Commission.

SACHS COMMISSION 2001 Report of the Commission on Constitutional and Electoral Reform 2001/02, [www] http://www.gov.mu/portal/goc/pmo/file/reform.doc [MS Word document] (accessed 22 Feb 2010).

Analysis

DARGA, LA 2004 Mauritius Electoral Reform Process [PDF document], EISA Occassional Paper No 24.