What I would like to see as a Reform to our current Electoral System

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There is another thing that is being discussed right now in politics other than the issues currently on headlines. Lately I have been thinking about Electoral reforms that the politicians have been talking since a few months. An electoral reform consists of changes brought in an existing election system in order to adapt to the requirements of the country and the society. The changes might include :

  • Voting Systems
  • Rules and Regulations for the Political Parties
  • Eligibility for Candidates to stand in an election
  • Eligibility to vote
  • Electoral constituencies and election district borders
  • Voting equipments (Such as ballot box or technology and tools used for voting)
  • Electoral Campaigns and Ethics

Mauritius Politics

As a citizen of Mauritius. I definitely need to see some changes to the current system of voting. Here are a few things I really wish would be taken into consideration :

For General Elections

  1. Abolition of the Alliance System: It is better to have one team with one leader with all having one vision instead of having several different parties merged together with different leaders having different personal interests just for the sake of getting the majority of votes. We have all seen the consequences in the 1995, 2000 and 2005 elections.
  2. Election to be fought as a team consisting of a minimum of 30 – 50 candidates: Personally, I do not believe in  fighting a general election as an independent candidate. I ask myself, even if one independent candidate gets elected, what influence will he have in the parliament? We have seen that in the Parliament, the majority always wins.
  3. Allow only candidates having the appropriate qualifications for a political position to stand for election: Almost everyone today is educated, most of us have the qualification of at least a Bachelor Degree. However, to be able to lead a group, to lead a society and to take strategic decisions, there is a need for a certain amount of skills and knowledge. I guess these should also be taken into consideration along with experience before having someone eligible as a candidate. Moreover, if a certain elected member is selected to be in charge of a particular ministry, I feel it’s better to have someone who has got some experience or at least a basic knowledge of that field. For example, a minister of IT should have at least a basic knowledge about Information Technology and the Internet so that he does not completely depend on his counselors and when he is replying to questions he knows at least what he is talking about. For ministry of Public Infrastructure, he should at least know a bit about Civil Engineering. I am not saying that he should have a Masters Degree of the field because his priority as a minister is to take decisions, but you do need some basic knowledge of whatever you are talking about. Can you imagine someone who has worked in the agricultural sector becoming the minister of health without any basic knowledge about medicine? Well he can be a good decision maker if he has really good counselors, but what if a counselor himself is not up to the level?
  4. Someone proved guilty for corruption should not be eligible to stand for any future election: I guess it’s quite clear that a person who is proved to be corrupted should not get another chance to steal more from the country. At least not until he has been able to prove that he is innocent.
  5. Do not mix politics with community: Communal groups and politics are two different things. They are independent. Our country being a multicultural one it’s of course important to have representatives from different communities. However those representatives should not change with the government. We have different cultures, different ways to live, we learn the same things differently, so no matter what, a government should be equally supportive to all the different communities to promote their cultures within their own communities. As well as promoting unity among the different communities. This will be a great strength for the development of our country.
  6. Political parties must focus more in promoting what they would be doing rather than trying to bring down their adversaries with personal attacks or their history during an electoral campaign: I have seen this in each and every electoral campaign with each and every political party. For god sake, what are people trying to prove by belittling their adversaries? That they are much better or less worse than them? All I hear is what wrong the other has done but I hear very less what they would want to do for the country, or what they have achieved till now. One good thing would be to keep track of whatever they have promised during previous electoral campaigns and verify whether they have been able to keep their promise.

For regional elections:

I have been following the regional elections last year, be it Municipal or Village, I noticed that there is a high rate of people who have not voted, and it is only a minority who has decided the result of the election. Here are a few points I would have taken into consideration when it comes to a Municipal or Regional election:

  1. Why should the regional political parties be backed by those huge political parties who participate in the Governmental elections, of course most of them belonging to those political parties? – I do not understand why the political parties interfere in regional elections when these are supposed to be two independent bodies. Personally I do not feel that this is something ethical. Government politicians should be more concerned with the overall strategic management of the country, while regional politics is meant for the welfare of the citizens and society on a regional basis. In a way they are the representatives of the society in the different regions so that they can convey the requests of the population from different regions to the government, so that the latter can plan to implement the requests of the population. This is one of the major reasons why there is such a low voting rate during the regional elections.
  2. Better to have a person belonging to the region to register as a candidate for that region: A person who belongs to a certain region, knows the people well, know the way of living, he will be able to understand the needs of the people of that region as well as it will be easy for him to be present whenever needed.
  3. Someone who has won the regional election should not be allowed to pose for general elections during his regional mandate and he should complete his full mandate before thinking about General Elections: I do not know if this is actually a rule in the current electoral system, therefore I added this here. This will enable a village president and a mayor to focus on his current post and limit his ambitions during the general elections. I believe that one has to accomplish what he has started. If one merely stands for regional elections so that later he can go for government elections, it’s good that he completes his current mandate as a mayor or president of the village council.

Another thing that I would like to say during elections, given that we are aiming for an environment friendly Mauritius, I guess we should stop using those papers or pamphlets for poster. Either use cloth and not stick it everywhere with glue, just tie it in one place so that it is visible to everyone, at least it can be reused afterwards. As for electoral campaigns, we can dedicate a channel that will be played whole day for around two weeks before the elections so that every person can listen to them without really the need for any pamphlet. Radio channels and newspapers can also dedicate a few sections to the messages from candidates.

These are my few thoughts along with the idea of abolishing the best loser system. My idea behind this post is more about changing the way elections occur in my country. Frankly I am tired of seeing two huge alliances take their turn to rule the country, collect as much as they can, get the population dissatisfied then lose the election to the other huge party who in turn after 5 (or 10) years lose to the former party. It goes on like a vicious circle. Eventually most of the citizens end up voting for the same people.

One thing every politician should take into account while fighting for elections, you are not chosen by the population so that you take care of your family, your friend or yourself or for a certain group of people. You fight for your country as a whole, you stand for the welfare of your country. We should also be ready for situations where maybe the population wants something where it can be detrimental for the country, but we still need to stand by it and not just give in. To rule does not mean to abuse power, to rule means to take the responsibility of your country and lead it to prosperity.

One message to the population, something that I have realized is that if we do not go to vote during the elections and the minority of voters chooses a government you do not really approve of, we are equally responsible for the state of our country. Not voting does not mean that “OK I have lifted my hands from this country, I am not responsible for whatever happens.” So please do vote. Even if the chance is less, at least you have tried. You did your duty.

With this I just hope that our country does have a bright future with the coming generation. Do share your views.

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About Pramod

Pramod currently works at Accenture Services Mauritius Ltd as Software Engineering Senior Analyst. He is a Mauritian blogger who likes to share his ideas, knowledge and philosophy to the world. His vision is to see a world that is not only technologically but also spiritually advanced.
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  • http://tinyurl.com/2f7olfl Mike

    It is clear that reforms are needed to get out of the stagnation of old ways and old guards. For the General Elections: Point 4 has always made me wonder why persons who were convicted of cheating in an election would pop-up again and be welcomed in coalition deals. Clearly this area needs amending. Point 5 is probably the biggest headache, the PM has always promoted the one nation concept but old habits linger. If this mindset does not change it will hamper the country’s ability to move on and pave the way for the younger generations. Point 6 another one which needs improving. Any voter with an ounce of intelligence must be sick of the way campaigning is conducted. Instead of presenting concrete party programs to the electorate they continue attacking and insulting the opposition. Conclusion, the system is archaic and needs modernization.