Mauritius: White Paper on Electoral Reform

Mauritius: White Paper on Electoral Reform

Date: October 30, 2014
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Following the success of the local elections in Mauritius, the big question in Mauritius is whether special measures will be extended to national elections in 2015. In 2014, Prime Minister, Dr. Navin Ramgoolam unveiled a draft paper on “Modernising the Electoral System” including its implications for gender equality, and invited comments from the public. Among others, the paper makes the case for moving from the present FPTP to a mixed system.

Unfortunately, the Electoral Reform will only be passed in Parliament after the 2015 elections meaning that any special measures adopted will only apply to the 2020 elections. However, it is important to intensify advocacy efforts now, as major electoral reforms take time. A submission made by Gender Links and the Southern African Gender Protocol Alliance argues that Mauritius needs to seize this historic opportunity by 1) opting for the highest proportion of PR seats in any new mixed electoral system and 2) increase the ratio in the gender neutral quota from one third of either sex to half of either sex (50/50). The following are excerpts from the submission:

The 46 year old Mauritian Constitution has been the bedrock of political and social stability. Like culture, constitutions are dynamic; they respond to the needs of the times. Women in Mauritius are challenging gender stereotypes in almost every sphere except the political sphere. As the Prime Minister put it in his introduction to the White Paper on Electoral Reform:

“We must bequeath to the next generations of Mauritians a system that is fit for the 21st century, that reflects the changes which have taken place since nearly half a century, which corresponds to the aspirations of younger generations, and whose firm foundations will endure at least as long as those our founding fathers gave to us. Any reform of our electoral system should maintain and reinforce the existing tendency to produce diverse and broad representation of all, including women.”

National elections will be held in 2015 in Mauritius. The Consultative Paper on Electoral Reform of March 2014 offers the opportunity to 1) escalate the progressive position taken on local elections to the national level 2) Consider the best mix of electoral systems and quotas to achieve gender parity 3) Raise the target for women’s representation from a third to gender parity 3) Place Mauritius at the cutting edge of innovative approaches to achieving gender equality in SADC and globally.

In Mauritius women constitute 19% of Parliamentarians, 24% of local government councillors and 8% of cabinet ministers (the lowest proportion of women cabinet ministers in SADC). Mauritius scored a goal for gender equality with the fourfold increase of women in local government to 26% in the December 2012 elections following the adoption of a gender neutral quota in a FPTP system accompanied by a spirited campaign to ensure the fielding of women candidates in seats where they could win, and had the ability and confidence to do so.

GL and Alliance strongly support:

· Mauritius moving away from the FPTP electoral system, preferably to a PR system as there is ample evidence to show that this system is far more favourable to women’s participation.

· To the extent that Mauritius opts for a mixed system, this should have as high a proportion as possible of PR seats; these should constitute no less than the 30% advocated in the Sachs report.

· Raising the gender neutral quota, to be applied across the board, from 30% to 50%.

· Application of all the above measures at national and local level.

· Accompanying any temporary special measures to increase women’s participation with advocacy and capacity building for women in politics to ensure effective participation and gender responsive governance.


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