With the general election less than a month away, ‘La Sentinelle’ (LSL) commissioned DCDM Research to conduct a political poll based on various themes prominent in the election campaign. Six hundred respondents, selected according to socioeconomic criteria such as age, socio-professional class, ethnic belonging and geographic region, participated in the poll, which was conducted through computer-aided telephone interviews in October. The results are in. So which way does public opinion lean and what lessons do these results contain for the political class?
Which parties are the most popular?
With the election slated for 10 December, leaving less than a month before Mauritian voters head for the voting booth, it looks like the Labour Party is the most popular party in the country with 28.8% of respondents claiming to support it. The Mouvement
Militant Mauricien (MMM) comes in secondwith 11.8% supporting it.That means that the two parties making up the l’alliance de l’Uunité et de la Modernité (AUM) collectively enjoy thesympathies of 40.7% of theelectorate.
On the other hand, 7.7% of respondents claimed to support the Mouvement Socialiste Mauricien (MSM) and another 3.3% supported the Mouvement Mauricien Social Démocrate (PMSD). What that means is that the two largest parties within the Alliance Lepep (AL) enjoy the support of 11.5% of the electorate.
However, 39% of respondents claimed that they were still undecided, meaning that both major blocs will be looking to sway these votes onto their sides.
Which alliance is better for the country?
The question of which alliance Mauritians thought was a good thing for the country, 54.2% said that the AUM bloc would be a good thing for the country and 55.5% opted for the AL. it would seem that Mauritians are not in favour of alliances in general and that the case is made even worse for the AUM. The fear that there might not be a strong parliamentary opposition in case of an AUM victory might be the reason behind the slight advantage the AL has over the AUM. Over 32% and 23.3% said that the AUM and the AL would be respectively a bad thing for the country.
The predicted score?
There is a great dose of pragmatism and little uncertainty in who Mauritius expects to win the 2014 election. Approximately 58% said that they expected the AUM to win the election and only 20% actually expect the AL to. When it comes to the expected score, if less than one in 10 respondents said that they expected the AUM to win an outright 60-0 victory, an overwhelming majority, however – 43% – still expect it to bag between 45 and 60 seats. Only 20.8% of MMM supporters and 29.7% of Labour supporters expect a result where they win less than 44 seats.
Will the labourmmm alliance last for five years?
Given the history of political coalitions breaking up and a short-lived Labour-MMM coalition in 1995 that lasted only till 1997, do people expect the AUM to survive this time around? Overall, more than half of all respondents – 54.7% – said that if elected, the AUM will break apart before completing its full five-year term. What is interesting to note is that when broken down by political affiliations, the expectations tend to vary. Whereas 47.9% of declared MMM supporters say that they expect the bloc to break apart before completing its term, and 37.6% of Labour supporters expect the same, the overwhelming majority of respondents – 65% – who said they didn’t support any particular party expect it to break up before completing its term. In short, more MMM than Labour supporters expect to see the coalition break apart than survive – 47.9% and 37.6% respectively. Whereas more Labour Party than MMM supporters are more optimistic about the survival of the AUM, 54.3 and 45.1% respectively. Those saying that they don’t support any particular party were overwhelmingly the most pessimistic.
How will mauritians vote?
When asked about how they plan to vote for the three candidates in each constituency, the majority of respondents, 46%, said that they didn’t plan to vote according to a bloc, whereas 38.3% said that they planned to put in a bloc vote. 13.3% of respondents said that they had not yet decided about how they planned to put in their vote.
What are the weak points of each alliance?
The AUM alliance between the Labour Party and the MMM enjoys the confidence of a significant chunk of the respondents with more than 40% stating that they have confidence in the bloc’s ability to deal with a range of issues. The Achilles heel of the AUM, however, appears to be the perception of their ability to fight fraud and corruption which is the only point at which less than 40% of respondents state that they have confidence in. The repeated promise of establishing a serious fraud office if elected by leaders of the bloc does not seem to be sufficient to improve voter confidence in this regard. On the other hand, the weakest point of the AL is the lack of confidence amongst respondents that the bloc will promote national unity, with only 26.2% of respondents saying that they are confident in the bloc’s ability to promote national unity.
The most popular politician?
According to the results of the survey, the three leaders with the highest approval ratings appear to be the foreign minister, Arvin Boolell (with a 73.8% approval rating), PMSD leader Xavier-Luc Duval (72.2%) and AL’s prime ministerial candidate Sir Anerood Jugnauth (70.5%). Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam comes in fourth (60.3%) and Paul Bérenger fifth (54.2%). But aside from their own party supporters, where else do these leaders enjoy the highest approval? Outside of Labour Party supporters for instance, 66.2% of MMM have a favourable view of the prime minister. Not surprisingly, MMM leader Paul Bérenger is currently looked on favourably by 70.5% of Labour Party supporters. In the AUM then, it seems that outside of their own parties, leaders enjoy the most favour amongst supporters of their coalition ally.
Paradoxically, among the almost 69 per cent of Mauritians who said that they wanted new leaders to take over political parties, dissatisfaction with party leaderships is running highest amongst people who say that they are MSM supporters with nearly 78% feeling the need for new blood at the political helm. Not good news for the MSM which is already facing barbs from its opponents about its prime ministerial candidate being a little long in the tooth. The second highest rates of dissatisfaction with the current political class come from those respondents who deny any political affiliation, with nearly 78% of them feeling a need for change. Almost 72% of MMM supporters voice similar sentiments. The lowest rates of dissatisfaction comes from the Labour Party supporters where only 53% say they need new blood.
Views on the second republic?
The majority of Mauritians are opposed to the proposed constitutional changes the survey revealed. Over 46% of all respondents stated that changing the constitution would not be a good thing for the country, whereas 37.3% said that the country would benefi t from electoral reform. Another 16% said that they didn’t have an opinion as yet. Electoral reform is unpopular amongst a majority of respondents who said they were apolitical (54.7%), MSM (65.2%) and even the MMM (53.5%) supporters – the latter being one of the parties seeking to introduce those changes. Over half of the Labour supporters – 57.2% – are on the other hand in favour.
Who would win a presidential election?
Assuming that the AUM wins a two-third majority and succeeds in introducing a second republic with a directly elected presidency, who would Mauritians vote for as president? Pitting Navin Ramgoolam head-to-head against Anerood Jugnauth, the poll found that the race would be tighter than expected, with 43% saying they would vote for Ramgoolam and 41.7% saying they would vote for Jugnauth – in other words, Ramgoolam has a slight advantage of 1.3%. Amongst those who claimed to support the MMM, nearly 51% said they would vote for Ramgoolam while 45% said they would vote for Jugnauth. The latter, however, has a greater appeal amongst undecided voters, 47% of whom said they would vote for Jugnauth compared to 29% for Ramgoolam.
The outgoing government’s scorecard?
The outgoing government’s best score is clearly in infrastructure where it enjoys universal support. A staggering 92% of Labour supporters and 83.1% of MMM supporters feel that the government did a good job. What is more surprising is that a high percentage of the adverse camp – 67.4% of MSM supporters – share that view.
The government takes home a good report card in respect to democracy: 85% of Labour supporters and 62% of MMM supporters believe that the government did a good job in respecting democracy and nearly 40% of MSM supporters share that view.
The next highest scores are registered in the outgoing government’s fi ght against poverty, respect for institutions, fight against communalism, the economy, law and order and meritocracy where the scores remain above 70% and bordering 80% among Labour supporters, between 45% and 63% among MMM supporters and between 28 and 39% in the MSM camp.
Fraud & Corruption
When it comes to fighting fraud and corruption, the marks go slightly down but the outgoing leaders keep their heads above water with a lukewarm score of nearly 60% from their own supporters and just above 42% among the militants while the MSM supporters reward them with a meagre 34.8%. A similar outcome is recorded for unemployment where the government’s efforts are rewarded with roughly similar scores.
Where the government scores badly, on the other hand, is in areas like purchasing power where the Labour supporters dish out a meagre 53.2% to their own leaders. The majority of respondents said that their living standards have gotten worse under the outgoing government, with nearly 68% of all respondents saying that they are either struggling or suffering. Only 30.5% say that things are getting . When asked about what they expected in future, the difference narrowed somewhat with 40% saying that things will get better and nearly 44% saying they expect the opposite. Only about one third of Mauritians say that they are happy with the way things are.
This article was first published in Weekly's edition of the 13th to 20th of November.