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Lalit Press Communiqué on by-election result in constituency no. 7 announced yesterday
Defeat for government's economic politics

23.12.2003

When the MSM-MMM alliance in government launched their electoral campaign for the by-election in constituency no. 7 up North, they said that there are two important issues at stake in this election: firstly, for electors to endorse government's politics in the last 3 years, since the last general elections, and secondly, to endorse the Medpoint Agreement, a party agreement between the MSM and MMM (where they agreed to introduce a new Isreli-style system where leaders of both parties have a 3yr-2yr turn at being Prime Minister). With its electoral defeat, the government has lost on both counts. MSM-MMM only managed to get 42.6% of votes, which means that it has lost around 10% of votes in this constituency compared to general elections in the year 2000.

The by-election result represents a major defeat for MSM-MMM's economic politics. Electors of constituency no. 7 have voted against economic politics of government. They have voted against factory closures, against the "Voluntary Retirement Scheme" (destroying employment in the sugar industry on a large scale), against unemployment, against generalised privatisation that has brought on price hikes in postal, telephone and electricity services, and against exacerbated class inequality through projects such as the Integrated Resort Scheme (where acres and acres of agricultural land will be transformed into luxury villas, swimming pool and all for the very, very rich most probably from South Africa and Zimbabwe). The government, in any case, never had a mandate to bring about such political changes.

Lalit has participated in the electoral campaign by contributing to make economic questions take centrepiece. Even though economic issues were taken up demagogically, the Labour Party was obliged up through to the day of the election result, to stress on the poverty of people in constituency no. 7, on the anxiety that besets people in their daily lives brought on by economic insecurity. Such poverty and economic insecurity is not limited to people of constituency no. 7, but has become generalised in the whole country.

The election result represents a severe warning to the MSM-MMM. The people have rejected government plans to privatise pension, to dismantle workers' rights in labour laws, and to dismantle free healthcare services.

The election result also means that people have not endorsed the Medpoint arrangement between MSM and MMM parties. This by-election was a product of the Medpoint agreement and from the government's point of view, it was supposed to represent a ratification of this agreement. The government failed to get its "ratification". MSM-MMM managed to get only 42.6%.

The election result will bring about instability in the balance of forces between the MMM and the MSM. We note that a few days before the by-elections, Prime Minister Berenger (the MMM leader) "dedicated" the coming victory to Vice-Prime-Minister Pravin Jugnauth (the new MSM leader, son of the previous MSM leader who resigned from the National Assembly to become President of the Republic, thsu necessitating this by-election). We assume that Mr. Berenger, by saying so, also attributes the by-election electoral defeat to MSM leader Pravin Jugnauth.

The MSM-MMM defeat would have been even more marked had the Labour Party been more credible. The Labour Party's politics resembles that of the MSM-MMM so closely that it was incapable of showing that it had a coherent political alternative.

Lalit denounces government's method, known now as the Bhagwan method (MMM member and Minister Bhagwan being in charge of this "department") in elections. This method consists of inciting MSM-MMM activists in violence against rival activists. This method is what made activists reach the level where they smashed up party tables of their political opponents right outside the school where electors vote on election day. Such tactics and violence is unacceptable.

Lalit appeals to workers and poor people to mobilise on the basis of a political programme to build a real alternative to the MSM-MMM government.

Rajni Lallah
For Lalit
22.12.03
(English version)