Best Loser System in Mauritius: Should it be Abolished?

The Best Loser System in Mauritius (BLS) is a system designed to protect minority representation in Parliament. For this system to function, a candidate is required to specify the community he /she belongs to upon registration with the Electoral Commission. Failure to do so leads to disqualification. This is believed to be discriminatory to several people who believe that community declaration is unconstitutional and violates their freedom. Should the BLS be abolished in Mauritius?

According to the Best Loser System in Mauritius, after a General Election, the Electoral Supervisory Commission may nominate up to 8 additional members of the Parliament in addition to those selected on the basis of the first past the post system. This is in conformity with the Constitution with the aim of controlling any imbalance in community representation in the Parliament.

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This system was introduced around the 50s/60s in order to prevent social and political tension. Should this system still be followed now that the Mauritian population is more educated as compared to those days? Many believe that the balance in ethnicity can be dealt with at the political parties’ level. Our political leaders can prove their belief in equality by ensuring that their party members represent the different ethnic groups of the island.

Navin Ramgoolam View on the Best Looser System

The Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam has for a long time been heard to denounce communalism in Mauritius. According to him the BLS, which has contributed in maintaining stability since the times of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, no longer holds its validity today. Sorbonne Professor Guy Carcassonne  and his team,who submitted a report to Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam on the electoral reform for Mauritius is of the same opinion.

His recommendations aim towards strengthening the democratic regime and fostering greater unity among the Mauritian population. It should be noted that choosing under the BLS might prevent an intellectual with great potential from being selected as member of the Parliament. Representatives of the younger generation and fairer gender should be given a chance to prove their mettle in the political arena. The welfare of the country and its citizens should come first in the agenda of the government.

Mauritius has come a long way since the colonial days. So much has been achieved already. Is there still the need to categorize people? Is it not about time that our country sheds the burden of the past and goes forward as a nation of “Mauritian” people?

The debate about the electoral reforms in the island is on since a long time with one of the major concerns being the BLS. However, no permanent decisions have been made regarding this issue yet. The most awaited moment is the submission of the bill in Parliament.

Let’s hope that the Prime Minister will make judicious use of the remaining time and act according to his promise of eliminating communalism.

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