Mauritius: Main electoral trends [1976-2005]

Updated May 2010

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, 270-273.

Post-independence electoral results (1976 onwards) have essentially favoured the larger or mainstream parties (MMM, LP and MSM). This can be explained by the presence of two factors: the existing electoral model and the systematic recourse to coalitions and alliances.

The existing electoral model - the FPTP [see Electoral system for Parliament in Mauritius] - frequently produces results which are grossly disproportionate to the share of votes obtained by the different parties. This is clearly reflected in the outcome of the results [see Election archive] and encourages a culture of 'winner takes all'. Observers have reflected on the unfairness of such a system which does not correlate percentage of votes obtained (by a party or an individual) with seats obtained in parliament. In fact, each major political party / coalition has fallen prey to such a system, yet it continues to be used.

For their part, coalitions and alliances (most of the time pre-electoral ones) have become an inevitable feature of the Mauritian political landscape. The main aim behind these coalitions or alliances is to rally all the chances on the side of a particular coalition formation to win a given general election. The last eight post-independence general elections have seen a combination of the three main political parties as the dominant or equal partner (see election results [Election archive]). Smaller parties (usually splinter groups from the big three) have also been accommodated in these grand coalitions or alliances. Despite the popularity of coalitions and alliances, they have been a source of great instability and insecurity. In fact, many of the ruling coalitions (1982, 1983, 1987 and 2000) collapsed after a few years.

Ethnicity is also a recurrent feature of the Mauritian political landscape and over the last decades it has significantly shaped the manner is which politics is understood and practised. In fact, it is visible in the choice, nomination and ultimate election of candidates who are chosen more for their ethnic value then anything else. Many observers believe that ethnicity has been exacerbated with the best loser system (see section on electoral system) and that there is an urgent need to de-ethnicise and de-racialise the current FPTP model.