AN ALTERNATIVE PROPOSAL FOR ELECTORAL REFORM (PART ONE)

Discussion dans 'Discussions Générales' créé par Lotus, 16 Oct 2015.

  1. Lotus

    Lotus Membre

    The current emphasis in the debate on electoral reform centres on the introduction of a mixed system of First Past The Post (FPTP) and Proportional Representation (PR), and the abolition of the Best Loser System (BLS).


    However, such a system may invariably lead to perpetual political instability in such a small country as ours. Most probably the legislature will be at the mercy of a handful of elected members, easily tempted to change the balance of power, irrespective of the results of a general election.


    The situation at the level of the Regional Assembly in Rodrigues, since it was granted autonomy, is a case in point, not to mention Israel and Italy on the international scene, where it becomes almost impossible to form a stable government. Even the two major parties in Germany in the 1980’s and 1990’s (then West Germany) depended on the whims and caprices of a small third party (Free Democrats).


    More importantly, Professor Guy CARCASSONNE summed up the main objections to a mixed system being applied in Mauritius in his “RAPPORT A MONSIEUR LE PREMIER MINISTRE SUR LA REFORME ELECTORALE”, submitted in December 2011.


    Therein, he stated: “Surtout, le second défaut est que ce système mixte ne nous semble pas correspondre au besoin réel. Ce type de scrutin mixte, en effet, qui fonctionne par exemple en Allemagne, présente des avantages notables lorsque les sièges pourvus à la représentation proportionnelle permettent au spectre politique de respirer, à de nouvelles forces ou de nouveaux partis de voir le jour. En revanche, lorsque la probabilité semble élevée, ce qui nous semble être le cas de l’Ile Maurice, que l’essentiel de ces sièges proportionnels reviennent, en fait, aux principaux partis déjà gratifiés par le scrutin majoritaire, la mixité du régime perd l’essentiel de son intérêt. Offrir davantage de députés aux deux principaux partis ne nous apparaîtrait pas comme un progrès significatif et fécond.”


    Furthermore: “L’autre inconvénient est que le système […] crée deux types de députés : les députés de circonscription et les députés de liste électorale, ces derniers n’ayant aucune responsabilité vis-à-vis des circonscriptions. Cette séparation pourrait créer une différence de statut entre les deux types de députés, ce qui risquerait d’entrainer des conflits inutiles dans un pays aussi petit que l’île Maurice.”


    Mauritius has experienced two absolute (60-0) majority results in recent history, as well two other elections resulting in the winning side obtaining a three-quarters majority (57-3 and 54-6). While the first 60-0 in 1982 could be considered a major surprise to the electorate, the same voting public could not plead ignorance in the case of the other three landslides, even more so since three of those four elections resulted in the victory of the opposition. It is to be noted, furthermore, that three out of those four winning alliances broke up mid-term, but were still able to complete the majority of the term of office due in part to the FPTP system.


    There has been a polarisation in the debate on electoral reform in this country, with different vested interests championing their own proposals to the detriment of a spirit of compromise.


    In these times of worldwide economic crisis, the Republic of Mauritius does not need a 25% increase in the number of elected Members of the National Assembly if their only attributes would be to ask questions, and participate in debates, when Parliament is in session.


    It is to be noted that the number of elected members in all local government councils was reduced by 25%, following the adoption of the Local Government Act 2011, without any loss of efficiency or effectiveness.


    In this respect, any proposal for electoral reform should take into account the main changes that would reinforce democracy by modernising the electoral process, reassuring all the components of the multi-cultural society while recognising the secular nature of the state, and making compromises where necessary so as to respond to the aspirations of the population in the pursuit of happiness.





    The following proposal includes:


    (1)The direct election of a President by the population, with executive powers, fixed terms of office and a power of veto;


    (2)The creation of a Senate totally elected by proportional representation;


    (3)The maintenance of the Best Loser System, but not the requirement of declaring a candidate’s community;


    (4)The redrawing of constituency boundaries to make them all as equal as possible;


    (5)The separation of the Executive and Legislative branches;


    (6)The introduction of popular referenda for matters of national importance;


    (7)The introduction of gender-neutral provisions to promote an increased political participation of women;


    (8)The introduction of provisions against crossing the floor (anti-transfuges);


    (9)The use of all recognised languages for debates in Parliament;


    (10) The use of the internet to stream Parliamentary activities; and


    (11) The confirmation by a Parliamentary committee of all major political appointments, including ambassadors and heads of government institutions.








    THE PRESIDENT


    The President shall have executive powers and be directly elected by the population, along with a Vice-President, for a term of six years.


    There shall be a term limit of two consecutive mandates.


    The President shall have a Power of Veto over any piece of legislation that could only be overturned by a vote of two-thirds of both the National Assembly and the Senate.


    The President shall appoint Ministers and chair Cabinet meetings. The post of Prime Minister will be abolished.


    The Vice-President shall chair the meetings of the Senate.



    ADVANTAGES:


    (1)President with real Executive powers

    (2)Possibility of a candidate of any community, caste or colour to be

    elected on merit and appeal to the whole population


    THE SENATE


    Twenty (20) members elected on a nationwide Party List under PR, plus one additional member elected by FPTP in Rodrigues (including Agalega).


    The election will be held at the same time as National Assembly.


    No requirement to declare community.


    Provision can be made that any party presenting a PR list must include 20 names and a deposit of Rs 100,000.


    A gender neutral provision will require that not more than two consecutive candidates on a PR List may be of the same sex.


    A party’s PR list should also contain:

    (1) at least one person under 30 years of age;

    (2) at least one person over 65 years of age;

    (3) at least one office bearer of an NGO registered with MACOSS;

    (4) at least one office bearer of a registered trade union; and

    (5) at least one handicapped person.


    All candidates may designate an alternate (to be declared on presentation of the list) in the event that they join the Cabinet.


    An alternate may also replace a sitting member if his seat is vacated for any reason.


    ADVANTAGES:


    (1) Additional 21 legislators who will not duplicate the work of MP’s

    (2) Ethnic declaration not necessary

    (3) Opportunity for persons from civil society to participate

    (4) Check and balance in the event of distorted result in the National Assembly elections


    NATIONAL ASSEMBLY


    OPTION A


    Seventy (70) members as present (62 + 8 best-losers), elected FPTP in 21 constituencies.


    A gender neutral provision would require that all candidates in a constituency are not of the same sex.


    OPTION B


    Seventy (70) members (62 + 8 best-losers), elected FPTP in 62 single member constituencies.


    A gender neutral provision will require that not more than two-thirds of a party’s candidates may be of the same sex.




    OPTION C


    Seventy (70) members (62 + 8 best-losers), elected FPTP in 31 two-member constituencies.


    A gender neutral provision will require that both of a party’s candidates in a constituency may not be of the same sex.



    For any of the three options, all candidates may designate an alternate (to be declared on nomination day) in the event that they join the Cabinet.


    An alternate may also replace a sitting member if his seat is vacated for any reason. No need for a by-election.


    ADVANTAGES:


    (1) Stable majority

    (2) Does not create two categories of MP’s unlike mixed system




    BEST LOSERS


    No compulsory requirement to declare community on nomination paper. However, those opting to not do so would be ineligible for a seat allocated under the BLS.


    ADVANTAGES:

    (1) Reassurance of minorities

    (2) Ethnic declaration no longer compulsory


    CABINET


    The President may appoint Ministers from either the National Assembly or the Senate.


    Cabinet Members replaced in National Assembly or Senate by their alternates.


    A gender neutral provision would require that not more than two-thirds of the Cabinet be of the same sex.


    In the event of a Cabinet reshuffle, or the loss of Ministerial position for any reason, the Member would resume his place in the National Assembly or the Senate, and his alternate would retire.


    Ministers may present legislation in either the National Assembly or the Senate, without voting rights.


    Ministers may reply to questions in either the National Assembly or the Senate.


    ADVANTAGES:


    (1) Executive separate from Legislative

    (2) Larger pool of competences

    (3) Ministers may concentrate on the problems of the nation, rather than pander to constituency exigencies
     

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