The itchy feelings of national elections is over and Mauritians are now living happily ever after …that is for those whose party has won. Regime watchers not regime changers are assessing the outcome and what it means to the tourist attracted Ocean Island.
That outgoing Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam successfully made a comeback with a bang was all the more surprising.
One deficit in it all is that Mauritians are unlikely to trust opinion polls from now on. Either by form or default the polls had put Ramgoolam on the trailing point, that the defeat of his Labour-PMSD-MSM alliance was imminent and even worst – which the Prime Minister would not even be voted in in the constituency he stood but that he would lose his deposit it.
Grim predictions. On the other hand, the polls had cooled the opposition lder Paul Berenger and his MMM-UN-MMSD alliance as sure as daylight to win.
The polls went as far as touting Beranger as “the mulatoo wonder” being swept to power by the tide of change. The polls made it all seemed as if the opposition leader was all in and those running against him as circus players.
But it all turned out a fantasy either because the pollsters did not ask the right questions to tabulate their answers to somebody or a group got drunk in the process and played monkey tricks with the result.
Mauritians I know said the two things that square Ramgoolam and Beranger are that they are both sixty years of age, which is not anything unique in politics. They also lead political alliances. Besides, said one Mauritian, both men are as diverse as day and night. Both claimed to be fighting for the well being of the people but has anyone met a politician who would say otherwise and still not milk state funds?
Ramgoolam’s edge, analysts said, came from the fact that Mauritians was not engulfed by the world economic crisis and for the islanders, it was like they were living in a different planet.
While prices on essential goods were reaching for the sky, the banks crashing and jobs hard to come by, most islanders were caught off guard.
The mood fits into the popular saying through the island from hawkers to hoteliers, ”here in Mauritius, we say no problem”.
No problem indeed when many industries go searching for workers in the tourism sector, shortage of teacher in schools.
Ramgoolam’s coalition also introduced free transport foe senior citizens and students; subsidized examination fees and awarded housing grants for workers.
These were like dangling a fish in front of a whale and the act caught on to propel him into another five year prime ministerial term.
But the next five years remain crucial for Mauritians as it is menaced by violent crimes and drug trafficking threats.
Ramgoolam is likely to work for the reinstatement of the death penalty as violent crimes threaten to swamp the country.
Though the opposition has lost his round of election, its energy has not been sapped. It is still defiant saying it will advocate that ”the country takes a new direction.’’
“Ethnic politics should be banned,” Berenger believed ”and corruption should be tackled with clenched fists,’ he said.
“We shall scrap the proliferation of casinos and promote an equal distribution of wealth.’’
As in many countries where the choice of voters is strained to two broad based parties, Mauritius is not exception. The smaller parties like “Rezistans ek Alternative” and “Lalit” would only make noises but gain token votes at the polls.
In the recent election, it was not different as they managed to pick up odd seats bout sadly not being able to influence the government thinking as the main opposition likely could.
What is now left for the new government is for it to shift gear on fast forward to deliver on its promises. Mauritians could continue to say ”no problem…but for how long?