Representation of People Act defines a candidate as a person who is nominated as candidate for the election.
Qualifications to be elected a member of National Assembly:
- Must be a citizen of the Commonwealth of no less than 18 years.
- Before the date of elections must have resided in Mauritius for at least an aggregate of two years.
- Has resided in Mauritius for at least 6 months before nomination date.
- Is able to read with a degree of proficiency so as to allow him to take an active part in the affairs of the National Assembly.
Who is disqualified to be elected?
He/she is a:
- Public officer/ local government officer / judge / magistrate.
- A person of unsound mind and also detained as a criminal lunatic at the Brown Sequard Hospital.
- Person under sentence of death imposed on him/her by any Commonwealth court.
- Person serving a sentence of more than one year not only in Mauritius but in the whole Commonwealth.
- Person who has stated that his allegiance with a State outside the Commonwealth.
- Bankrupt within the Commonwealth and has not been discharged.
- Person who has been disqualified for electoral offence in force in Mauritius.
- Person who has not declared his interests within 14 days that he/she is a party to or a partner or a director or a manager of a company which a party to any contract with the Government.
It means a constituency established under section 39 of our Constitution, which states among others that the Island of Mauritius shall be divided into 20 constituencies and Rodrigues shall form one constituency.
Agalega is “attached” with constituency no 3 whereas the Chagos Archipelago despite a resolution voted by the National Assembly in 2019 has not yet been attached to a particular constituency.
Constituency register means a register which shall be compiled by the registration officer for every constituency.
Section 43 of the Representation of People Act states clearly that no person shall stand as a candidate for election to the Assembly in more than one constituency at one and same election. Note that section 43 was amended by Act 60 of 1988. The last person to stand candidate in four constituencies was Sir Gaetan Duval in 1982.
Return by election agent
After the results have been proclaimed, each candidate through his/her agent shall make an election return to the returning officer for all expenditure incurred for election purposes by the candidate or person authorised to do so and shall be supported by vouchers – receipts or any proof of payment.
The candidate if there is no agent must do his/her election. The returning officer has then a duty within 10 days to publish in a daily newspaper a notice of the time and office where same can be inspected.
There are multiple electoral offences under the Representation of People Act which are:
- Illegal payment.
- Induces or procures another person to withdraw from being a candidate at an election.
- Illegal hiring of premises where alcohol is sold wholesale retail / used for primary/pre-primary, secondary school and same is let for the purpose of promoting or procuring the election of a candidate at an election.
– to vote or to refrain from voting;
- Gives / lends money;
- Offers any money or any valuable consideration to any elector;
- Directly or indirectly by the candidate or other person on behalf of the elector gives, procures, agrees to give / procure;
- To endeavour to procure any office / employment.
[By many means: money – loan – valuable consideration]
Whether the candidate, agent or any person who directly or indirectly
- Makes use of any force
- Makes use of violence
- Restraint any person
- Inflicts or threatens to inflict
Any temporal or spiritual injury, damage, harm or loss upon against any person in order to
- Compel that person to vote
- Refrain that person from voting
- Prevent free exercise of the franchise by duress or any fraudulent contrivance.
Any person who on polling day shall be guilty of undue influence:
- If he/she annoys an elector
- Molests an elector
- Interferes with an elector
- Attempts to obtain information as to the candidate for whom an elector has voted is about to vote or as the number on the ballot paper given to an elector who has voted
- Remains outside a voting room after voting
- Within the famous 200 metres boundaries:
- Lotery in any street
- By word – message – writing or any other manner persuaded or dissuades a person from voting a candidate or party.
He / She who is given specific tasks during an electoral campaign road. For example, “leafletting”, flyposting, put up banners, accompany the candidates to specific rotes where he/she has personal contacts or knowledge, is the ear and eye of the candidate of the party and/or the party during the electoral campaign. The agent is also the person who will make sure, who must be convinced to vote.
He / she is the person responsible of the agents in a particular area and who will be responsible towards the local party committee or to the candidates for the discipline and who will have to report the work done and if it has not been done, why it has not been done to the campaign manager. The chef agent is normally a person who has the ears of the candidate or the leader of the party.
Normally, it is a person who is very different from an agent in the sense that he supplements works done by the agent and know what to do in case of emergency or in case of problems occurring in the absence of the candidates / other political leaders. The militant is someone who usually does not like to be given orders or to be sent on mere errands and must never be treated lightly.
Bureau de vote
It is the voting headquarters for a specific area which is normally a school, a State school, roman catholic school, other type of school or State colleges. It is important for candidates, yard agents, street agents, class agents to know the “bureau de vote” well for obvious reasons.
The street agents are nominated by the local party to be in charge of a specific street which means that he/she must know all the families living along the particular streets and he will be the one who will report back about the potential intention of vote of each elector in the street designated to him / her.
The yard agent is a well-known person in the region, who will be working specifically on the voting day in a specific “bureau de vote” because he knows the area but above all he must be a respected person. A person that voters looked up to him/her which will comfort the elector by his/her presence to cast the vote for the party that was decided. He will also be responsible to inform the candidates of the voting trend and he/she will be the one who will liaise with the class agent to know how things are evolving in each class where votes are cast. Yard agents receive from the electoral commission an official badge, which he has to wear while being at the “bureau de vote”, failing which might be ask by the returning officer or any other officer and police to leave the yard of the “bureau de vote”. The yard agent has no right to canvas electors nor has, he/she no right to wear symbol of the party on his t-shirt or otherwise.
It is a person designated by the candidates to be present in a specific classroom, to see to it that there is no unfair practice going on while electors turn in to cast their vote. He/she must make sure that the person who is coming to vote is not impersonating and if ever he is in doubt, he / she must object for the vote to be cast and police will be call for an inquiry.
It is the agent nominated by the party to be in a specific class to follow the counting so as there is no fraud or mistake. The counting agent must follow whether the three crosses have been well inserted in the appropriate box without any confusion which will reflect the intention of the elector. If ever there is any confusion, he/she must object and the ballot paper will be put in a separate tray which will be the subject of a decision and the returning officer will decide whether he can allow or disallow the ballot paper.
Vote for another person, otherwise than by proxy, whether that person is a living person, dead person or fictitious person or after having voted applied for voting again.
Ballot paper offences.
- Forges a ballot paper
- Counterfeits a ballot paper
- Destroys ballot paper or official mark
- Takes away from the polling station a ballot paper
- Interferes without due authority with ballot box or packet of ballot papers.
Note that the penalty if convicted is harsher for returning officer – presiding officer or clerk employed at a polling station.
Duty of secrecy
Note that there is the sacred duty imposed by section 72 of the Representation of People Act on every officer, clerk, candidate and agent in attendance at a polling station to maintain and aid in maintaining and aid in maintaining the secrecy of the voting.
Every person who is convicted of
- Undue influence;
Shall on top of their punishment be incapable during a period of 7 years from the date of his/her conviction of being registered as an elector or voting at an election or if he has been elected before his conviction of retaining his seat…
Car coordination school
The person who will coordinate the coordination of cars and other means of transport whether taxis, hired or otherwise to transport agent, carry a crowd to beef up the assistance on a key meeting and crucially for:
- Nomination day
- National regional meeting
- National meeting
- Rallye on the eve of polling day
- Polling day
The car coordinator is responsible also of the petrol allowance to any person/agent, any accident or for rogue activities of some car drivers.
Constituency car coordinator (CCC)
Responsible to coordinate with school car coordinators to make sure everything is perfect specially on polling day. Depending on the means of each political party he/she has power to hire more cars at the last minute if ever cars don’t turn up as they may have been “brought” by the opponent. The CCC has the power also to move the cars posted from one school to another.
The person responsible to organise on a daily basis the food-drinks-munitions (cigarettes – telephone cards) for all bar and headquarters. Responsible to organise the “ravitaillement” on polling day.
Food and drinks for polling
(300-500 agents) PCF constituency
- Morning – (before 6.00 am)
- Drink (hot tea, soft drink, water, buzz drink)
- Breakfast (sandwich, pain fourré, dholl puri, sweets, paper towels, chewing gum)
- 10.00 am (biscuits, dholl puri)
- Noon (traditional, briani (veg – chicken – fish), satini mild and hot, coutia, cucumber, soft drinks, water, paper towel, chewing gum, sweets and cigarettes
- 3.00 pm (tea and dholl puri sandwich)
- 7.15 pm – food for some agents and special pack for those who will guard the ballot papers.
The food coordinator coordinates also dinner for the candidates and leaders if there will be special / urgent meeting. The food coordinator must also have basic medicine.
Campaign manager: the key person in any election after the leader-leaders of a party or alliance. The campaign manager is responsible to
- Come up with strategy and a roadmap to apply the strategy;
- Decides (with the leader but in Mauritius leaders are omniscient) the tactical moves;
- The advertising and the timing of the advertising;
- Organising the meetings (where – when – who will speak – mobilisation – aftermath)
- Preparing with responsible people who will represent the party / alliance on tv / radio – challenge / debates;
- Check – verify – counter verify – fool proofing of any pamphlet, banner, letter, article, communique, manifesto (specially dates – figures) before rendering same public;
- Mobilise voters;
- Liaise with pollsters and organise pollsters;
- Raising of funds but the key person here is the leader;
- Coordinate activities specially if the party is in alliance;
- the day to day operation;
- reading / monitoring the press / social media and reacting to same;
- management of the press and public opinion specially in times of crisis / scandal/ resignation / faked news.
The campaign manager will oversee a committee comprised of:
- policy director
- media coordinator (s)
- legal advisor (s)
- technology manager (website – database – computer infrastructure)
- schedulers – sifting invitations – potential events (religious – youth – exams – bad weather flash – flood – fire – major accident – national funeral – deaths like Gorah Issac in October 1996)
- campaign treasurer
- field staff follow up coordinator
Briefly, campaign managers must have:
- good communicator skills
- a pro-active thinker and strategist mind
- excellent organizational skills
- a level-headed approach
- good interpersonal skills
- patience / persistence / enthusiasm and in-depth ability to work with other persons
- a “solver” attitude
But above all must not be scared to tell the truth to the leaders or leaders.
Writ of election
A writ of election is a writ issued by the President of the Republic ordering the holding of an election. In the Commonwealth countries writs are the instrument / mechanism by which elections are called by the head of State or any other representative of the head of State as per the Constitution of that State.
In Australia, writ is issued by the governor general or by the speaker in the case of a by-election in Canada writ is issued by the chief electoral officer which is then formally issued by the governor general.
In the United Kingdom, a writ of election is drawn up for each constituency by the clerk of the crown in chancery then same is formally issued by the Crown.
In the United States of America, the writ is issued by State governors.
Dropping the writ
Dropping the writ is an informal term for a procedure where the prime minister goes to meet the President of Republic to formally advise him/her to dissolve the National Assembly.
A form of written command in the name of a court or other constitutional / institutional creature to act or to abstain from acting in a particular way.
It is a booklet to all candidates, campaign managers and speakers which comprises of the argument for the party (defending the manifesto – and other ideas) alliance, for the candidates and more importantly how to hammer the key-criticisms of the opponents. It will be updated regularly, supported by photocopies of press cutting, photos and other documents.
The argumentaire will also contain:
- the list of “dos” and “don’ts”
- the dress code for different type of meeting and for “porte a porte”
- mouthwash and chewing gum (don’t laugh) also form part of the “plethora of instruments” as who will listen to a person whose breath is foul
- for those doing “porte a porte” – shoes – handkerchief – deodorant – water – headaches tablets – notebooks – pens
- no cigarettes / no alcohol
Grate (kreol word – scratch – scrape)
One of the most derogatory terms in the electoral lexicon of Mauritius. It is the order from candidates and campaign managers specially three to four hours before closing of polls to get out to bring all those who are known and have promised to vote for their parties/alliance. Campaign managers or/and candidates are not democrats, who will simply “grater” for electors to do their civic duties. Why? Because if you don’t know how to “grater” you are maybe (and often a mistake done by young agents) bringing your opponents to vote who would not have voted.
“Grater” is done if you have the list of electors who have not yet voted and who if brought to the polling station will surely cast their votes for your candidates. The list will be given to the car coordinator by the yard agent who has received same from the class agent by stealth.
The candidates who usually are registered as independent but who are on the ballot papers mainly to:
- give the big party his/her cards of access to polling yard / classrooms so as to a give a psychological blow to the opponent and create an atmosphere of victory.
- cause confusion in the mind of the electors as the names resemble or to create the impression that even the opponent’s family members do not support / trust him for all sorts of reasons beast left to the imagination of the agent who is carrying out his/her campaign.
- issue a communique on the eve/or some days before the polling day that he/she is now withdrawing and supporting the “big party” for all sorts of reasons. The “big party” will organise the “buzz and publicity” depending on the electoral weight of the candidate. The candidates are even sometimes invited to be on the same platform to address few words.
- cause diversion as the independent candidate will be designated to do the dirty job against the opponents. The costs of his/her campaign will be borne out by the one who has planted him/her or bought him/her (yes usually some even inscribed their names to be “bought” by the big parties).
- cause a dynamic in favour of the party planting/buying the independent votes. The dynamic may be (1) communal, (2) casteist, (3) candidates living in the same constituency, (4) trade – unionist, (5) fighting for the same issues.
Reunion brile (scorched land meeting)
Important meeting which is usually organised in the house of a well-known agent/family of the opponent but is given much publicity to convey the message that the agent/family has now decided to support your alliance/party/candidate. But note that it is very difficult to organise such meeting. It needs all the dexterity of the campaign manager and sometimes a phone call from the leader to transform a lost cost into a winning one.
No electors must be left with the impression that you don’t care for them or you are taking them for granted. Some families of hard-core supporters must be visited and the meeting is usually early in the morning or in the afternoon around a cup of tea not more than 15 minutes but flatter the ego exercise must continue with one or more phone calls per candidate at different intervals.
The type of meeting which is always kept a secret. It is organised late at night or in the early hours of the morning. The meeting is usually with religious heads or social leaders who can sway a constituency by signals given to the electorate two- to three days before the polling day.
Usually the heads will keep their words after having been promised a lot of things. During the meeting a phone call from the leader might seal the undertaking.
The origin within the Mauritian system is obscure. The “mamelook” is the person who will attend all the opponent’s meeting with such a regularity and punctuality that he/she will be perceived as a hardcore supporter. He/she will be so much trusted that at the end of the day he/she will become the ears and eyes of the sender party. The “mamelook” must be very discreet. The sender party will benefit from any information obtained.
A fixer is the person who does the dirty job of the politician. In all democracies it is agreed that there are fixers who do the job which the politician will not do for numerous reasons (legality of the job, morality, probity, Mr clean image …) and which are vital like:
- leaking documents;
- liaison with big “financial backers”;
- ratting on deals;
- negotiating with the opponent;
- tactical voting instructions specially in a three-cornered fight.
The fixer will take the sole responsibility if something goes wrong. The leaders and candidates will always be perceived to be fray. The unsavoury tasks are for the fixers. See the most tragic part of it in the “house of cards”.
The fixer is a trusted lieutenant who will always do his job viva voce. No telephone calls or sms. The fixer is as cautious as a cobra. A cynical can be a fixer but not a naïve person.
Electoral boundaries commission
It is a creature of the constitution which consists of a chairperson and not less than two nor more than 7 persons, who are appointed by the President of the Republic after consultation with the Prime Minister, Leader of the opposition, Leaders of parties (as per the President’s own deliberate judgment) for a period of 5 years.
There is no qualification requirement, but one is disqualified if he/she is a member of the National Assembly, local authority, local government officer or public officer. The electoral boundaries commission shall review the boundaries of the constituencies and present a report to the National Assembly every 10 years.
The National Assembly may approve or reject the recommendations of the electoral boundaries commission. The duty on the electoral boundaries commission while reviewing is to take into consideration the “population quota” so that the number of inhabitants of each constituency is as nearly equal as if reasonably practicable.
Population quota has been defined by the Constitution to mean “the number obtained by dividing the inhabitants of the island of Mauritius with the latest official census of the population of Mauritius by 20.”
Electoral supervisory Commission (ESC)
The ESC is a creature of the Constitution. The ESC shall have general responsibility for the registration of electors for the election of members of Assembly and the conduct of elections. The electoral Commission has a duty to keep the ESC fully informed about his/her functions and can attend the meetings of the commission.
The ESC shall comprise of a chairperson and no less than 2 nor more than 7 other members. Note there is no qualification to be a member, but no person is qualified if he/she is a member, candidate to the National Assembly or any local authority.
Disqualified also if he/she is a public officer or a local government officer. The members of the ESC are appointed the President of the Republic after consultation with the Prime Minister, Leader of Opposition and other Leaders in the National Assembly. The appointment is for a period of five years and a member shall vacate office at the expiration of the five years.
It is a Constitution post (see section 40 and 41 of the Constitution). The Commissioner is appointed by the judicial and legal service, which is comprised of the chief justice, the senior puisne judge, the chairperson of the public service commission and another member known as appointed member. The appointed member is nominated by the President acting in accordance with the advice of the chief justice. The electoral commissioner shall be qualified to hold that constitutional post only if he/she is qualified to practise as barrister in Mauritius.
The electoral commissioner is really independent and the framers have made it a duty to insert in our Constitution that the electoral commissioner shall not be subject to the direction or control of any other person or authority.
The independence is further embedded by the inclusion under section 41 of the Constitution that “every proposed bill and every proposed regulation or other instrument having the force of law relating to the registration of electors for the election of members of the assembly or to the election of such members shall be referred to the electoral supervisory commission and to the electoral commissioner at such time as shall give them sufficient opportunity to make comments thereon before the bill is introduced in the assembly or as the case may be, the regulation or other instrument is made.
The electoral commissioner shall have powers for the registration and elections as may be prescribed by any law.
A person employed or a volunteer, who is very good in feeding the electors with a favourable interpretation of events happening to the media or to react very quickly on the web to give a different colouring to the unfolding events in time of crisis. In fact, the spin doctor is used to doctor (sorry if the word causes revulsion and reeks of insincerity and underhand activity).
The spin doctor will strive during the electoral campaign to give the media (and sometimes only to one respected editor in chief) favourable information and interpretation of facts.
The spin doctor has to work in an environment of rolling 24-hour news. It has been said over and over again that between reality and perception stands the spin doctor, ready to mould opinion and interpretation.
The minimum that a candidate or the campaign manager must have at his/her home during the whole campaign.
- Mop-sticks for banners
- Juice/soft drinks
- Telephone cards
- For funerals
- prior arrangement with the local maker of coffin.
- prior arrangement for special route bus.
- cups – coffee
- candles – oil – matches
- socks and “epingles”
- prior arrangement with a taxi to pick up a good-looking bunch of flowers
- sympathy cards (to follow two days layer)
- tarpaulin – chairs
- petty cash
- a list of barristers and doctors
- carte de visite
There is no law regulating pollsters in Mauritius. It is clear that all sorts of polls will be circulated from nomination day to polling day. There is also no exit poll. Pollsters are the modern-day oracle. So, parties will fight back through some faked polls allegedly coming from NIU or from very reliable sources like India / France and Russia.
The best will always be “the head of NIU just informed who you know”.
The candidates must be aware of the different religious holidays special cards with some personal words with your own signature must be sent. Don’t forget the anniversary of your own agents. “Make it a must that you are the first one to phone” is a good piece of advice as the agent (whether on payroller volunteer) is giving you his/her time. Commitment will double!
Each candidate must have a personalized visiting card with the symbol of the party. There must be at least two telephone numbers couples with an address which is clear to even a child. Missed call alerts must be inserted on these two phones. A good stock of visiting cards is very important.
Campaign managers must see to it that they have at their disposal preferably at home or at their headquarters a soundproof room to speak over the phone specially to the radios and also to campaign convince electors who can be met only over the phone. In case the candidates don’t have such facility, the telephones call should be made inside a closed car with radio and music off.
Gerrymandering (cracking – homogenisation – packing)
To toy with the boundaries of a constituency or/and the population quota in order to favour one party/alliance.
Wayne Dawkings describes it as politicians picking their voters instead of voters picking their politicians. The origin of gerrymandering is named after Elbridge Gerry, who was the governor of Massachusetts in 1812.
An election petition is the procedure for challenging the results of a general elections in a particular constituency/ all constituencies, by election and local government elections. The petition is usually entered by the candidate, who has not been elected or by any person who the locus standi to do so.
The most successful and known petition in the history of Mauritius are pre-independence Duval v Ramasamy and post independence Ringadoo v Ashok Jugnath.
The petition shall be signed by the petitioner or all petitioners and shall be presented to a judge in chambers who shall fix a day on which the court, consisting of at least, two judges on which day the court shall hear the petition.
For Mauritius the petition shall be presented within 21 days and for Rodrigues 56 days after the date of the return. For some petitions where the reasons put forward is illegal practice the delay for Mauritius 28 days after the date of the illegal practice and Rodrigues 70 days.
An election petition may be presented to a judge in chambers by a person who has voted or had the right to vote at the election to which the petition relates or was candidate at that election.
Grounds for petition:
- the elected candidates was/were not qualified at the time of the election
- the elected candidate was disqualified at the time of the election
- bribery (can take many forms. See the case of Ashok Jugnath)
- undue influence
- illegal practice
- or any reason (which is very wide but speaks volume about the intentions of the fathers of the Constitution)
The appeal is before the judicial committee of the Privy Council.
The candidate must submit a deposit of Rs 1,500 in cash or by means of a bank draft to the order of the government of Mauritius.
Defined under section 2 of the Representation of the People Act to mean a person appointed to assist a presiding officer at the taking of a poll.
Defined (class or agent) under the representation of the People Act to mean a person appointed by a candidate in the prescribed manner for the purpose of detecting personation.
Defined under the Representation of the People Act to mean an election officer appointed for the purpose of assisting the returning officer in maintaining order at a polling station.
Includes a returning officer, presiding officer, clerk or other person having a duty to perform under Representation of the People Act.
It means expenses incurred by a candidate whether before or after an election or in respect of his candidature and the conduct or management of the election.
Two hundred metres radius
It is the responsibility of the returning officer to keep order not only at the nomination centre and the returning officer is empowered to take such measures as he/she may determine.
One who will annoy the orator of the opponents meeting with some embarrassing questions/remarks jokes. Used mainly in private meeting as in big meetings, the security guards will usually get rid of him (hecklers are rarely women) before he attempts to do his coup. The photos of known hecklers are circulated well in advance to the security guard. The hecklers are usually remunerated. A good heckler can disturb or even put an end to a meeting. New candidates are often warned not to get involved or Ping-Pong with hecklers because hecklers know the juicy word that gets a crowd going …
The “must” of any meeting. Usually some “scouts” are posted where the candidates/leaders will alight from his/her car and the firecrackers will be the clear signal that the candidates / leaders are coming and it will be the message to the speaker on the podium to arouse the crowd to welcome the leader.
The firecrackers or the duration of the firecrackers will reinforce the impression that the meeting was a good one by those who did not attend.
A note of caution
All leaders must get a fair and equal balance of firecracker. Firecrackers are “ego crackers”.
Photocopy of a cutting out of a newspaper which will help the orator to substantiate his/her arguments. Many photocopies must be brought to be distributed after the meeting for those who wish to have a copy. Press cutting brings credence to the arguments of the orator.
A candidate shall be nominated in writing by at least 4 persons (known as “parrains” or “marraine”) who are electors duly registered in the constituency where he/she is standing as candidate.
Alliances and parties will usually have more than 4 persons who have been vetted and who represent the radiography of the constituency. The factors which are taken into consideration:
- sex (balance but sometimes if there are more men candidates there must be more women)
- caste (don’t think that the parties don’t include caste in their equation)
- region (must come from different parts of the constituency)
- volunteers (never hurt an ego!)
- loyalty to the party/alliance
- no history of drugs/assault or fighting regularly with neighbours and the worst “parrain” or “marraine” is the one who “lends money on interests” or has been expelled from clubs / religious or socio-cultural organisation
- member of youth club, senior citizen, non-government organisations trade unions.
The school / college / place where the votes polled at an election in a given constituency are counted and where the results of the election are officially announced by the returning officer.
Means a register which is marked by an election officer or a polling agent to indicate that an elector has voted or has not voted.
Clubs regrouping mainly young men and girls of the constituency which must be visited by the candidates if the club has not organised an official meeting.
*Meeting with youth clubs are usually feared by even the most seasoned politicians as our youngsters will not take gloves to confront any candidate. Candidates must be warned not to attempt in anyway whatsoever to belittle any member of the youth club as the boomrang effect can be devastating.
Youth can be very cynical and usually they don’t trust politicians. They will not shy away from any negative comment. The clubs may officially ask for sporting/literary materials / building materials. Officially the candidates will not offer any gift, but the fixer or agents will remit the “gifts” 2 days before the meeting is scheduled.
Candidates are requested to know the history of the youth clubs by their respective campaign managers.
A person or group of persons who will be active to intervene on radio to defend or praise the candidates of a particular party/alliance. A “radio wallah” or “group of radio wallahs” will be glued with a particular radio station during the whole campaign. The radio wallah will be helped by 2-3 volunteers who will phone constantly the radio-station which he has been delegated to intervene. The radio wallah must be a soft-spoken person who is ready to bluff his/her way to defend overtly or subtlety his/her party/candidates. The radio wallah must be someone who is well versed in politics and know the political history of Mauritius. A radio wallah must be fluent in Kreol and French.
In time of crises (when one can’t defend a fact which is indefensible) he/she will waffle out of context to burn the time allocated to the programme. Time is a rare commodity on radio. The “radio wallah” is regularly fed with an “argumentaire” by the party/alliance. The radio wallah is not the province of men!
All these instruments are used specially in the major events. A regional group will be contracted to play but will disguised to look as volunteers to the untrained eyes. The group will wear the colours of the party/alliance. The girl/women dancing will not wear the colour but will jump the fray spontaneously. As Churchill said the spontaneous is something which is well prepared in politics. Even the instruments will be played according to the “specifite” of the meeting/event and the region.
Every party/alliance/candidate/campaign manager/baz must have this to be distributed to members of the public before the arrival of the candidates/leaders. Leve/baisse pavion is an art!
The flags will reflect the passion and the craze. The flags if properly raised will increase (perception) of the amount of people and the size of the hall/room/ “latent.
No need to define what a meeting is but it is important to note that there are different type of meetings namely:
National meeting –
Usually one week before the general elections or on any public holiday before the scheduled date. The party/alliance must put up a big show by mobilising the maximum of people possible. A very good national meeting can sway the voters and vice-versa. Never underestimate the psychological fact that enthusiasm is infectious.
For the national meeting, the following is vital (non-exhaustive) to succeed:
- The strategic place;
- The podium-decoration-access-security-how many people can the podium accommodate and precautious to be taken;
- Fire extinguishers/electrical breaker. Presence of very good electrician – CEB (due coordination) sound engineer. Back up support;
- Chairs/water/medicines/umbrella table at the back space for photographer/CCTV/cameramen/women;
- “Cautious” to speakers and those who will be on the big podium – dress code – shoes – anti-perspirant;
- The background must also be clean;
- The well-rehearsed mode of how to welcome the leader/leaders. Crescendo …
- Flags/ music/ firecrackers;
- The traditional coffins or dolls;
- TV crew;
- The follow up – (specially with the press);
- The orchestrated comment on the social media;
- Special photos to be used on social media and for the special newspaper.
(The list is long)
- the buses/minibuses/cars
- flags -firecrackers-jembe-ravann-mawfa…
(The campaign manager must have a checklist)
For the national meeting which is followed by nearly all Mauritians on radio/social network, the following must be strictly adhered to:
- No dirty word/jokes or foul language. In fact, the orator is not talking to the crowd but to those who are at home;
- Must not shout;
- Must be passionate not excited;
- Must know how to harangue! (leave it to the best orators);
- Must know on what to harp.
Other important factors
- The synchronisation;
- The music/song in between the orators (the jingle);
- The special effect when the leader is coming;
- Respect time;
- Don’t distribute even a piece of dirt when the meeting has started. [It will disturb the meeting and the consequences can be untold. Example: hole in the crowd.
National – regional meeting
The last meeting in the constituency which will be attended by the leaders and the main members of the party/alliance.
The aim is to make sure that the electorate of that particular constituency gets the impression (at least) that the party/alliance is winning.
The second aim is to demoralise the opposition.
The third objective is to boost up the morale of your agents and hard-core supporters before the last mile.
The fourth objective is to convince those who have not decide to cast their votes for your party/alliance. That’s why there must be on the day a va et vient incessant between different areas of the constituency to the place where the meeting will be held.
à All the cars must be mobilised with flags to give the right impression.
à T-shirts must be distributed well in advance.
à The oriflammes must be lowered by some inches so that when flags are raised there is a fusion of colours which will enhance and magnify the crowd presence.
à Cars must be parked in strategic places to block access to create the impression of a huge crowd.
à Buses imported must be “hidden” and the passengers well marshalled.
à The candidates must be applauded constantly during their speeches.
à The jembe – ravann – mawfa tatpou (tamil group using sort of Ravann with sticks which is very popular as it is very rhythmic) mawfar announcing mobilisation for “war”… different groups if you can mobilise 200 it is already a good crowd which in itself will spill… (and same as for national meeting)
Meeting cerfvolant – (kites meeting)
Meeting held in the house/sociocultural / senior citizens /club where there is no need to linger as they are hard-core supporters.
Meeting brile – (scorched meeting)
Meeting held in the house of a family known to be a staunch supporter of the opponent but done with a lot of faked discretion, but which will be deliberately leaked out to cause confusion / disruption / division specially in the last 72 hours prior to polling.
Meeting with religious heads –
Meeting held with the utmost secrecy (even phones are controlled) as assurance is given to the head that the needful will be done. The presence of the leader of a major member is very important. The religious heads must get the feeling that neither the candidate s nor the leaders will take them for a ride. Promises must be kept to a minimum which will be kept as soon as elected.
No leakage of the meeting will be tolerated as it is the religious leaders who must convey the messages as per their timing.
Tekwan (hiding spot)
Is a very discreet place where one of your main agents will hide in time of trouble. For example, false allegation of assault which if he is arrested or seen by the opponent can caused havoc. Tekwan is also the place where the candidates are having a rest.
A meterchoula is the one who sets the crowd going by clapping and singing. Each organised party/alliance has his bunch of “meterchoula” who will spur the crowd to clap/dance/shout with approval, call for the leader, stand up for ovation …
Base or baz
A little office used mainly to keep agents or persons from a particular area to join the other party/ alliance. True agents rarely operate from “base”.
Base is used for:
- keeping a visual presence within a particular area of constituency;
- Leafletting/distribution of ballot papers;
- for affixing posters;
- accompanying candidates for porte a porte but must be very cautious as a boisterous crowd in front of any house or on any street always lead to negative effect;
- the purpose of constructing any innovative gadget for election. Years ago, the most publicised one was “coffin”;
- contacting families in a particular area;
- the mobilisation of the base members to bring them to create the impression of a good crowd; (rent a crowd – mobile crowd to meetings in the constituency or elsewhere)
- the reservation of a specific place for polling day which is usually on the boundaries of 200 metres;
- decorating the constituency (oriflammes, flags – banners – painting) papering of walls with evergreen posters …
à Never let base members be idle. Never! Base can be a nuisance if not kept under control.
à Base must never be kept short of “ammunitions” / food/ drinks/cigarettes/telephone cards/ sweets/ carrom/dominos/cards.
à Bases must not be used for:
- consuming of alcoholic drinks which will trigger all sorts of problems;
- consuming of drugs;
- communal/casteist/sexist meeting
- under aged youngsters to roam around
- betting or playing carrom/domino/cards for money
- viewing of films. Save campaign films;
- storage of any offensive of whatever nature
Base must always have the following:
- water access
- mop baton
- gas cooking or access to same
- electoral registers
Note of caution
Candidates should know that “base” vampires the precious time of candidates. Bases must also be furnished with daily newspapers / 4 radios (to cover each station on a permanent basis).
Pied a terre
A “pied a terre” is a discreet house which belongs to a clean person (duly vetted by the campaign manager and candidates) who will accommodate the candidate or candidates for any short / rest time-night cap or will be used for a spontaneous discreet meeting. A second type of “pied a terre” is a house which is located very near the polling station preferably within the 200 metres where the candidates can use same for refreshing / change of clothes or urgent discreet meeting.
There are different types of posters. All of them must be duly vetted by at three persons including the campaign manager. No poster should be printed before it has been vetted. Important facts to check to check:
- name of party/alliance
- name of printer
- names of candidates with no mistake
- type of paper as some papers are not glue friendly
- no unintended innuendo (s)
There are different types of posters:
- to announce / inform/ for meetings/”reunion nocturnes” – regional meeting/national meeting;
- “slogan only”
- manz koko. From mild ones to very dirty and could be of the opponents party/alliances
- mobilisation specially for the national meeting
- symbol of the party plus number and names of candidates as they will appear on ballot papers. Usually in black and white as the ballot papers are in black and white
- “Warning” …posters warning the gloom and doom if ever the opponent wins the day
- Photos of leader(s). There will be different types. Must look for strategic and safe place to put same. Photos of leaders which have been destroyed / defaced are often very counter productive
- Photos of candidates. The photos must be well thought. Candidates must not look grumpy … at least 10,000 posters are needed per constituency.
- photos of the national meeting to create the impression that victory is your side.
All posters must be fixed in well-designed areas. All sorts of tactics are used to get the sympathy of electors for ex own posters are removed by your own agents to win sympathy. But if your own members are aware of that trail of destruction you will surely lose sympathy. In an electoral campaign any miscalculated move can have all sorts of unintended consequences.
Electoral register is not kept as a monolith document but is divided under different headings:
- big families (i.e more than 10 namesake)
- street (the follow up is to mark “tendency of electors”)
- community / religion
- first time-voter
- first time voting in the constituency
- list of electors who have passed away
- list of electors who are undergoing sentence or on remand at prison
- list of electors who are in hospitals/private clinic
- list of electors who have emigrated / on mission / studying / or for other reasons abroad
- list of electors who have been declared bankrupt
- list of electors who are bed ridden or who will need wheel chairs or means of transport
- list of persons who will vote by proxy
Preparing your speech
All good orators prepare their speeches meticulously in an electoral campaign unless you are leader or have been requested to drag on as the leader(s) is/are late you will have no more than 5 minutes to address the crowd.
- you must prepare your speech
- you must check your facts
- no matter how confident you must at least run your speech in your head
- You must be ready to evaluate you after each speech delivered even if you have half an hour before another speech
- know your audience / area/ problems of the particular area/promises made and not kept by your party/alliance promises that have been kept
- known the names of your friends / candidates and of course the leaders
The shorter the time that has been allocated to you the better must be your preparation/construction of your speech. The great orator Churchill said if he had to speak for an hour he would spend five minutes himself but if he is allocated five minutes he would spend many hours … are you better than Churchill?
In the same vein American President Woodrow Wilson said:
“If I am to speak for ten minutes, I need a week for preparation. If fifteen minutes three days. If half an hour one day. If an hour I am ready now”.
- Sir Gaetan Duval one of the greatest Mauritian speakers (like Rozemont-Seenevassen) of the twentieth century was always “very shy and timid” before taking the mike.
- Be police at all times!
Ping pong group
In England it is called focus group. It is merely a group of voters assembled and where an experienced “animateur” will ask them about their opinions on host of issues including potential proposals of a party/alliance. The group will also be asked vital questions about political figures, policies, slogans and current events including international events. Notes will be taken and will be analysed by specialists.
Blitzing is a technique developed by the labour party of Great-Britain to maximise the exposure of the party/alliance and its candidates in a very short period of time without having recourse to the traditional canvassing.
Blitzing is to regroup key and leading members of the alliance/party to swamp an area in a marginal constituency where the turnout is usually low.
Literature and flashy pamphlets must be free-flowing.
Compulsory voting or mandatory voting
Compulsory voting or mandatory voting is an effect of electoral laws or amendment to the Constitution which require eligible citizens to register and to vote failing which they may be prosecuted. Some countries where compulsory voting is in force are Australia – Brazil – Mexico – Belgium – Lebanon – Greece – Luxembourg – Thailand – Singapore. There are more than 20 countries which have made voting compulsory.
In election procedures around the globe it is where the duly registered elector does not go to vote.
Abstention is on the rise in Mauritius. It is apposite to note that in South-Africa, there is a strong movement for abstention campaigns that make ideological point that no political party (especially since the death of Nelson Mandela) represents the people and fails the poor systematically.
The “No land! No house! No vote!” campaign which was started by the landless, peoples, movement in 2004 is one of the starkest examples. In India, the Naxalites have advocated such a practice for more than half a century. In Mexico, the Zapatista army of National Liberation encourages people not to vote. The New York Times did run a leading article some years ago arguing that there was a growing “scorn for voting” around the world.
Blank vote is also known as protest vote. It is a vote cast in an election to demonstrate in an Ahimsa (non-violent strategy) way that you don’t agree with all the candidates on the ballot paper/the parties and alliances.
The voter is in fact an active citizen who will carry out his/her civic duty and shows respect for the history of right to vote in our Republic and worldwide but refuses to vote for those on the ballot paper.
It is sad that the blank vote is not taken into consideration in Mauritius. The blank vote is available as an option in some electoral systems around the globe and is getting momentum.
In France, voting machines include a blank vote option. In Columbia (voto en blanco) in 2014, the “voto en blanco” won more votes than five other presidential candidates.
In Spain (voto en blanco), blank vote is an established practice. In England, it is used for the London mayoral election.
In India, “none of the above” [nota] has been provided as an option. But if nota wins the majority of votes the winning candidates is not dismissed.
Manifesto has been defined as a published declaration of the intentions, motives views of a political party/alliance. The word manifesto is derived from the Italian word “manifesto” itself derived from the latin word “manifestum”, meaning clear or conspicuous.
Examples of historical manifestos are:
- The Baghdad manifesto religious and published in 1011
- The United States declaration of Independence 1776
- The declaration of the rights of men and citizen 1789
- The communist manifesto by Karl Marx and Friendrich Engels (1848)
- The Russel – Einstein manifesto against nuclear weapons and wars – 1955
Proxy voting is a mechanism of voting whereby a registered voter allows another person who is an adult to vote for him/her. The Mauritian electoral laws and regulations allow proxy vote for the following categories of electors:
- any member of the police force;
- any election officer engaged in the electoral duties on election day;
- any candidate duly nominated for election;
- any public officer who is an elector in Rodrigues or/and who is serving in the island of Mauritius;
- any public officer who is an elector in Mauritius and who is an elector in Mauritius and who is serving in the island of Rodrigues and Agalega.
For the national assembly elections, a person shall not be entitled to be appointed as proxy unless he/she is
- Commonwealth citizen of more than 18 years
- Not under any legal incapacity to vote at that election
A person can’t act as proxy for more than two electors. The returning officer shall keep a record known “list of proxies” which is a list of electors for whom proxies have been appointed and the names, national identity card numbers and addresses of the persons appointed. No person shall be allowed to cast a proxy vote unless he first submits his proxy paper to the presiding officer on polling day.
Forfeiture of deposit “Kosion pa tire” – Section 46 regulations made by the president under section 85 of the Representation of the People Act.
A candidate who has made the deposit required and whose number of votes polled by him/her does not exceed one tenth of the total number of votes polled shall have the amount of money deposited forfeited to the state.
Two persons have won elections in “grand style” by mastering the internet. They are Barack Obama and Narendra Modi. It is now a core element of modern political campaigns. Communication technologies such as e-mail, websites and podcasts for a plethora of “Active-activism” is to enable faster communications by citizens, parties/alliances and to deliver messages to a large audience.
A professional whose job or primary task is to conduct pre-election polls on a regular basis in order to read the trend which he/she will feed to the party/alliance/candidates or consultant.
There are different types of consultants but the key consultants (and there are not many in Mauritius) advise the campaign managers and the leaders on virtually all of their activities from research to field strategy.
They are similar like partisans but are the foot soldiers who are loyal to the candidates and who may in the Mauritian context swap allegiance if their candidates have moved to another party/alliance/group.
An adherent to the party/alliance without being a member of the party/alliance. The partisan is a partisan who usually becomes active on key occasions like Labour Day or once elections are called.
Adherent but passionate ass a football fanatic. Some hard-core partisans can be very aggressive towards their own candidates as they believe they only “give” to the party/alliance.
In Mauritius, leaders prefer hard-core partisans to right thinking members.
Door to door canvassing
Door to door canvassing has stood the test of time despite the fact that modern tools have changed the landscape. Knocking the doors, ringing the bells, facing the “naughty dog” is not a futile exercise. Encourage your candidates or supporters (who must have been duly coached) to engage in frank and open-ended conversations when interacting with voters are always “beneficiary” to the party/alliance. The candidate must talk not act like parrot who has learned from a script prepared by consultants.
- know your areas: streets name – problems- the different activities – the youth clubs/senior citizens – churches – kovils – shivalas – mosques – episcopal churches.
- which car is in the driveway (or motorcycle)
- are there pets?
- have they voted before?
- know the names/forenames
- don’t forget party literature/visiting cards
- don’t forget to bring pens/pencils/paper
- wear comfortable shoes
- no classy clothes
- mouth freshener/anti deodorant
- bottle of water
Note that visual impressions are more important when it comes to direct contact. Important to note that non-verbal signal such as:
- facial expression
- synergy between candidates or with other party members (how can we trust a politician who does not even know the name and forenames of a hardcore party member)
- tone of voice
- irritation tolerance
The recipient during door to door canvassing will assign greater importance on visual signs ... the recipient will always trust what he/she sees not what she/he hears…
- There are more and more multi floors apartments, so it is better to start at the top …
- Don’t bring a crowd with you when you are canvassing (maximum of five persons)
- Be polite in all circumstances
- Make your point within three minutes. If you have promised something, please keep your words!
- Must never avoid answering the difficult questions. Invite the recipient to visit the website or to read a specific document which has been prepared by the party.
Internet manipulation (not exhaustive)
Astroturfing – it is an attempt to create the illusion of support for a party/alliance or a particular candidate.
Click bait – sensational headlines to whet your appetite to click.
Propaganda laundering – use a platform to publish a story which is probably fabricated and then use it to great effect in the press.
The campaign manager with the help of consultants will identify and target through different methods small demographic slices of voters.
Whistles top tour
Unlike “reunion cerf volant” it is a series of brief appearances in several small wards of the constituency. No meeting but appearance which can give room for many photo opportunities.
Political house parties
It’s small party with a well-chosen of invitees organised especially in areas known as “bourzwa”.
Celebrated party members
Bring back to the forefront legends of the party to boost support especially in marginal constituencies.
Election litter (met partou ou zet partou)
It is the unlawful setting up of political advertising on state property – main roads – private property which is not removed after the elections by the party/alliance.
It is the use of many techniques to give the impression that a particular party/alliance is winning or is for some particular policies. The tactics used are:
- logical fallacies (in Mauritius we are very good at it. A fallacy is the use of faulty reasoning or wrong moves in the construction of an argument);
- propositional logic or formal fallacy;
- informal fallacy originates in an error in reasoning;
- psychological manipulations;
- outright deception;
- propaganda techniques (the Nazis were very good at it!);
- rhetorical techniques;
- suppression of information;
- faked news/ hoaxing;
- psychological warfare.
It is deliberate disinformation or hoaxes which is scientifically circulated through traditional news media (often a media which is known to be independent and is used some hours before polling starts or even during polling to give a fatal blow to the opponent) or online social media. It must be distinguished from yellow journalism which is an American term for journalism that publishes knowingly false news or pseudo-scientific information to push a covert agenda by using eye catching headlines or “sexy headlines”. Techniques may include gross exaggerations of some bits of information, extrapolation of an event, sensationalism with a lot of innuendos, scandal mongering or simply fiction.
It is the mechanism by which the expenditure of money can influence the whole political system not only during elections but during whole legislative period. Thomas Christiano in his book “The oxford handbook of political philosophy” gives us an in-depth analysis of how money corrupts the system. The expenditure of money can influence the political system: money for votes, money as gatekeeper, money as means for influencing public and legislative opinion and money as independent political power … with money politics there is no political equality.
Contrary to overhauling of “baz” (devir baz) it is the operation by which the “baz” is either “brought” to stop working or to stop working through threats – blackmails or police arrest. The aim is to give a killer psychological blow to the opponent usually two to three days before polling day.
A “baz” is “devire” (overhauled” when the physical structure of the “baz” and its members are “bought over” by the opposite party or alliance. Usually it happens in the last forty-eight hours before polling day so as not to alloy any chance of fight back by the party which has erected the “baz” or its candidates. It is the vilest form of political rape. The “baz” then will operate or work for the party/alliance which has “brought the operation”.
Election recount happens on the day of counting if the initial vote tally during an election is extremely close. Many errors can be found or following some unintended human factors, misreading of ballot papers, wrong interpretation of the intent of the voter. In some countries recount are mandatory if the difference is less than a percentage of votes cast or of fixed number. The most notable recount is the Florida election recount for the 2000 United States presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore.
A safe seat, contrary to a marginal seat, is a constituency which is accepted to be safe for a particular party or alliance. Sometimes that particular constituency can be so secured that the leaders of the party or alliance can field even a clown who will be elected. In Mauritius, the joke about a safe seat is “met pied banana mem li pou eli”!!!
Also known as swing seat is a constituency held with a small majority in a general election. In Mauritius, constituency no 3 is a marginal seat as 200-300 votes can swing the whole three seats to a particular party.
This is where the duly registered voter casts his/her vote for all three candidates of a particular party/alliance or three candidates of a particular denomination be it race, religion, sex, caste or origin.
First past the post
It is a very simple system of voting which is used by many former British colonies. True to say than many former colonies such as New Zealand, Australia, Ireland, Cyprus, Malta and South Africa have opted for alternative system of voting which is fairer. On the other hand, the United States of America, Canada, Caribbean States, some African States, Seychelles and India still use the first past the post. How does it work? On the polling day the duly registered voter receives a ballot paper with a list of candidates, the names of the party/alliance they have been nominated by with the symbols along. The voter will have to vote for one or the number of candidates which have to be returned as per law. Therefore, voters will vote their favourite candidate (s) or the one(s) they less dislike. And counting is simple! The one who receives more valid votes is elected.
First three past the post
In Mauritius there are 20 constituencies of three members elected to the National Assembly. The voter must vote for three candidates. Not one less than three or one more. Compulsory to vote for three. The first three that win the majority of votes are declared elected by the returning officer. Note with the first past the post the majority of members of the National Assembly can be elected with less than 20 % of the electorate.
Tactical voting is also known as strategic voting, insincere voting or sophisticated voting. Tactical voting is when an elector duly registered casts his/her vote for a candidate/ candidates that he/she would not normally support to stop other candidate(s), party/alliance from winning the elections. It normally happens in marginal seats or when the elections on the National level are tight.
A ballot paper which has been duly issued to a registered voter but will not be cast because it has been damaged substantially which destroyed its anonymity.
Withdrawal of a candidate
A candidate duly nominated can withdraw his/her candidate by written notice not more than three days after the nomination day unless he/she has been declared elected as there were no other candidates. Upon withdrawal a candidate will have the deposit returned.
Tendered ballot paper
A tendered ballot paper is given to an elector who represented himself/herself as an elector who has not yet voted but another person has already voted under his/her name. Where a tendered ballot paper is given to an elector, he/she shall not put it in the ballot box but give it to the returning officer. Note that a tendered ballot paper is not counted by a returning on a list called “tendered votes list”.
Spoilt ballot paper
A ballot paper which through inadvertence been spoilt by an elector. The returning officer will write “cancelled” across its face and remit another ballot paper to the elector.
International election observer
He/she is an official person who is a member of a mission deployed to Mauritius by international organisations or bodies for the purpose of observing the conduct of an election process within the Republic of Mauritius.
Hung Parliament or Hung National Assembly
A hung parliament is a term used by those who have adopted the Westminster system to describe the scenario where no particular party/alliance has an absolute majority of legislators/members of National Assembly in the National Assembly.
In Mauritius (excluding a majority to change the Constitution) 36 is the magical figure to reach.
Hung Parliament can also arise
if an alliance has severed for different reasons
slim majority is eroded following crossing of the floor, defections and resignations.
In Engalnd, the greatest example is when the minority labour government of James Callaghan lost its majority when the liberals and labour pact (known as lib-lab pact) came to an end.
The term “hung parliament” came into common usage after it was first used by Simon Hoggart in the guardian in 1974.
In 2010 and 2017 there were hung parliament in the United Kingdom which led to the conservatives contracting out alliances with smaller parties. Hung parliament leads usually to relatively weak and unstable government. Uncertainty will run the day after the elections if there is a hung parliament.