By virtue of laws governing the Best Loser System, the Electoral commissioner has determined yesterday that Louis

Hervé Aimée is the most appropriate unreturned candidate of the 2005 elections to fill the seat left vacant following the death of James Burty David. We describe hereunder the origins of the system. THE best loser system and the division of the people of Mauritius into 4 main communities are the products of the politics which were practiced by the traditional political parties of the 50s and 60s. Kindly note that while the majority community is a Hindu community all the other communities form part of what was called the minorities. The main opposition party, the Parti mauricien social democrate ( PMSD), claimed to represent of the minorities, in particular the General Population- the Creole Community. The Muslim Action Committee was founded by Sir A. R Mohamed to defend the interest and culture of the Muslim Community. Contrary to these political parties, the Mauritius Labour Party was, from its very inception, a national party. The Labour party, one must admit, had the support of the workers regardless of their communal belongingness. The perception however, was that in the 1950s and 60s the Labour Party represented mainly the Hindu Community and that it was that community which provided the vote bank of the party. Thus, all the major parties had their communal vote banks; the PMSDthe General Population- the Creoles, the Muslim Action Community- the Muslims and the Labour Party- the Hindus. Need for safe and adequate representation Politics in those days, advocated communal war rather than class war. The prevailing philosophy was that only a Hindu MP can defend the interest of the Hindu Community, its culture and the Indian languages. Similarly only a Muslim MP can defend the interest of the Muslim and the only General population MP can defend the interest of the French language and culture, the Catholic religion, that is, the general interest of that particular community. Hence, an MP in those days represented, first and foremost, the interest of his community ( and not the national interest). Thus, it was claimed that each and every single community should have a certain number of seats commensurate with its numerical force in the population and that the community can best defend its interest whenever the community is well represented in the National Assembly. There was also real or imaginary fear in the minds of the minorities in the 50s and 60s that self- government would lead to Hindu hegemony. With the eventual accession of Mauritius to Independence, the minorities, therefore, pressed for assurances that their rights would be respected by the Hindu majority community. Thus, most of the constitutional conferences held in Britain were haunted by the need to ensure a safe and adequate representation of each community in the Assembly. The trustram- eve report In 1958, a British electoral commissioner, Mr. Trustram- Eve was sent to Mauritius to work out how best to divide the country into a given number of constituencies to ensure a safe and adequate representation of each group in the Assembly. After a sociological survey of the population in the various areas of Mauritius, Trustram- Eve recommended the division of Mauritius into 40 single member constituencies. Grossomodo 20 constituencies were in the rural areas and the remaining 20 in the urban areas. The then prevailing belief that the main criteria to explain voting behaviour was communal appurtenance, that is Hindus

Thus. all the 3 stand to be elected should the electorate vote on party lines. Trustram.a Hindu. Muslim Action Committee. In the early 1960s. the minorities. a Muslim and a General Population candidate.Eve was satisfied.Eve division had already catered for a safe and adequate representation of the minorities. This will give an opportunity for parties to put up 3 candidates.Chinese and Whites. and so forth. the Muslim may be and important numerical group along with the General Population however it is the Hindus which constitute the majority in that constituency. if 20 constituencies are in the rural areas the Hindus ( 52%) which predominate in these areas. He therefore. a resolution is passed to that effect in the local Parliament. the PMSD claiming to represent the minorities. For the other communities. Creoles for the General Population MPs and so on. The multi.Eve recommended that the Governor made use of his power to appoint nominees ( 12 in all) to the Legislative Council to make good any under.Eve recommended that the major political parties sponsor Muslim candidates in areas where Muslims represent an important numerical force. Labour. will secure 50% of the MPs. Riviére des Anguilles and in Bel Air. On its own. the Conference decided that. for example. recommended the pairing of the then 40 single member constituencies into 20 constituencies of 3 members each for Mauritius along with 1 constituency of 2 members for Rodrigues. 1965 consitutional conference At the 1965 constitutional Talks.representation of Communities which may arise out following a general election. This is important to help electing the candidates of the General population and the Muslim Communities.Louis. However. in principle. and the Independent Forward Block joined forces to form the Independence Party and pressed for the Independence of Mauritius. In 1 constituency. .vote primarily for Hindu candidates. the Hindu. Pheonix. Thus. Accordingly. however the Muslim Community can only elect 1 or 2 candidates in Port. There are certain constituencies where Muslims may not be the strongest ethnic group. The Banwell commission Banwell came in late 1965 and found that the Trustram.member cons ± tituency will give an opportunity to the electorate to have 3 MPs of different ethnic groups elected in a single constituency. continued to press for an electoral system which would guarantee safe and adequate representation of the minorities while the Labour.Trustram. rallied to a certain extent under the banner of the PMSD and demanded the integration/ association of Mauritius with Britain. Muslim representation The problem was. He was convinced that the system that he proposed would give satisfaction to the 3 major communities.led µ Independence Party¶ demanded the Independence of Mauritius while recognizing the need to give assurances to the minorities. Trustram. The 1958 Constitution implemented in the 1959 at the general elections did work out satisfactorily as far as the communal representation was concerned. the General population which constitutes 30% of the population is numerically the strongest community in certain urban constituencies.Eve believed that the General Population would easily obtain 30% of the MPs.Louis. yet constitutes a sizeable section of population of these constituencies. Trustram. to allay the fears of the minorities. Finally. to decide on Independence or Association/ Integration. for example in N0s 2 and 3 in Port. following the forthcoming elections. however with the Muslim Community which constitutes some 17% of the population but whose force is dispersed all over the Island of Mauritius. the Conference decided to send another electoral commissioner to Mauritius in the person of Harold Banwell to study the delimitations of the constituencies and the electoral arrangements best suited to the overriding need to secure safe and adequate representation to the minorities following Independence. Mauritius would be independent if. the General Population and the Muslim.

Over and above. This arrangement was made to satisfy the PMSD which claimed to represent 30% of the population ( that is the General Population). These major modifications satisfied Ramgoolam and the Labour Party. This was the most controversial part of the Banwell Report because it introduces a disguised form of Proportional Representation in the electoral system. the final recommendations regarding the electoral system which still formed part of the Constitution of the Republic is as follows: Mauritius was to be divided into twenty three member constituencies. the constant correctives and recommended the allocation of 8 best losers instead of 5. ³ Not over my dead body´ Ramgoolam harangued the huge crowds attending the meetings of the party. Stonehouse modification John Stonehouse. thus giving a total of 62 directly elected members.Banwell variable correctives Banwell also recommended a system of variable correctives to ensure that a party which has obtained 25% of the vote in the election is guaranteed of 25% of the seats in the House. the variable correctives. Ramgoolam opposition to Banwell The 25% of seats which it would get would be sufficient for the party to block any major constitutional changes which. Rodrigues 1 constituency of two members. then a sufficient number of seats would be allocated to that party to make up for the difference.. there were to be 8 best losers to ensure a fair representation of the minorities. Thus. Over and above the directly elected members. Ramgoolam and the Labour Party carried out a massive street campaign against the ³ Diabolical Plan´ of Banwell. He maintained however. the Secretary of State sent a mediator. John Stonehouse to Mauritius to make the necessary changes to render Banwell palatable to Ramgoolam. a system which has already been rejected in 1958. according to the party may affect adversely the interest of the General Population and/ or the interest of any minorities in general. In the face of such resistance by the majority party ( the Labour Party). Banwell recommended 5 constant correctives later to be known as best losers to ensure fair representation of the minorities. Banwell proposals of the variable correctives met with the dogged resistance of the Mauritius Labour Party led by Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam. scrapped the variable correctives of Banwell. Should the party get less than 25% seats. The latter claimed that the proposal smacked of Proportional Representation. generally the Creole Community. an old friend of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam. .

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