Vasant Bunwaree’s comment that if the election took place today, the Labour/MMM alliance would not get a three-quarter majority may well be motivated by his disappointment at not receiving an investiture from the Labour Party. Indeed, all the comments he has been making have had a whiff of bitterness. It would be wrong of Navin Ramgoolam, however, to dismiss it as simply one more comment from one more disappointed politician.
Among many Labour supporters, not only is a less than ¾victory the dream scenario they are wishing for, but they will probably also work towards making it happen. To the Labourite intelligentsia, proportional representation as proposed by Rama Sithanen boils down to giving MMM constituencies an unfair advantage and dealing the Labour stronghold a double blow. To the others, a second republic is perceived as handing over the power to Paul Bérenger on a tray.
For many MMM supporters, on the other hand, jumping into the enemy number one’s bed is the most unpalatable thing for them to swallow. Now going as far as agreeing to keeping him in power for seven years –seven! –only makes things worse.How many of them will stick it out will depend on how well they buy into the idea of a second republic.
When it comes to elections in this country, one should never forget the psychology of the people and the components making up our fragile society. For nearly two decades, the MMM and the Labour supporters have been fighting each other fiercely and mercilessly. The adrenaline this generates at each election has been feeding them and keeping them alive. And politicians have been happily providing the cooking fuel to make sure the pots of hatred, mistrust and ignorance of each other are kept brewing.
The idea of having everyone onboard, working together irrespective of one’s creed, race and colour is a wonderful dream. Having that materialise through a second republic –not necessarily in the form we are presented with –is a nice ‘revolution’. But revolutions are driven by the people when they are ready for them. A change driven by leaders when people are not ready for it is at best unworkable, at worst a form of dictatorship.
Lalit fought for years to put an end to the best loser system. They never succeeded because people were not ready for it. Rezistans ek Alternativ fought for keeping this cancer in our constitution and introducing a fifth category for those who wish to opt out of it. They won. And the mini-amendment came as the consecration of that.
As things stand, it is clear that a large chunk of Mauritius is not ready for a second republic in any form, shape or colour. And they are caught between a rock and a hard place. The two biggest parties cannot leverage the support they have to drive the change down their throats. Even if that change were for the better! They have to keep the election and the second republic separate. If the electorate wants a change in the constitution, they should be allowed to explicitly say so after the general election. What we have had so far is the beginning of a debate. And that leaves us with many questions, few answers and a lot of ‘what ifs’.