The fact that a whole host of new political parties is coming into being heralds good news and bad.
The good news is that people are interested in matters “political”. Hurray!
The bad news takes a few paragraphs to explain.
The bad news is that all these new parties are essentially without any proper political program. By “program” we, in LALIT, mean something simple: a shared understanding amongst adherents (in this case, launchers), as to the collective tasks ahead. This, in turn, could be divided into a simple three-part concept that is thrashed out, in common:
A - a brief analysis of the socio-economic and political situation that they see before them, and what exactly needs to be changed therein.
B - a brief outline of what kind of society/societies they would like to see on the planet one day.
C - a brief outline of their strategy to contribute towards moving from A to B.
This agreement could then be referred to in their leaflets, radio programs, on their web-sites, at press conferences, in press articles, at meetings, or in e-mail circulars. We would gradually learn their program.
No stand on even bread-and-butter issues!
Often these new parties don’t even have a shared view on items in the news: the Israeli genocide on Palestinians, the compulsory biometric ID card system being imposed right now, the right for police officers to join trade unions, Navin Ramgoolam’s plan to become a President with power, the present economic crisis, electoral reform, the communal Best Loser System, labour legislation brought in by the Labour Party, or the exact content of the present bizarre political situation.
No new concept of “leadership” or making an “alliance”
The new parties tend to have a party "leader" or "president" without having a definition of how they see “leadership” – which might be helpful in Section C of their program, if they had one.
On the question of “alliances”, one new party has a rather peremptory record. After one or two preparatory meetings with supporters with a view to forming a new political party, Sheila Bunwaree hurtled into an alliance with Ivan Collendavelloo, drawing many of her supporters behind her. Some present at her previous meetings were apparently not even informed of the alliance. She instantly became “Presidente” of the instantly formed “Muvman Liberater”. This lasted about a week. She then caused what political culture refers to as a “disterbenns” in a party meeting with people in a neighbourhood, as was broadcast live on radio. Then she announced her resignation and was expelled from the newly-born party. All her supporters followed her exit. Then they published an article singing praises to their leader, in Le Mauricien’s Forum.
Why exactly did they not join an existing party?
Most of these new parties are born as if into a vacuum. They seem not to see their party as being in the flow of the on-going history of life, which they and all the rest of us are part of, whether we like it or not. It is a fact that there are already lots of existing parties. The very minimum for a new one would be to spell out what they do not agree with in the programs of the existing parties: MMM, Labour, MSM, PMSD, on the one hand, or even in the program of a more structured party like LALIT, on the other. They do not specify why they are not with Ashok Subron or Jack Bizlall, or with each other, even.
The others give not an iota of explanation as to why they are building a new party in the sense of what exactly will be different about it, and what will stop them becoming just like the already existing ones that they reject. Their reasons for not joining Labour, for example, would not be the same as their reasons for not joining LALIT. It would be worth having both sets of reasons spelt out by the leaderships of these brand new formations for the benefit of all people in the country. This way, the public can get to see what the new party might intend to do, and give some content to the vague catch-all phrases like, “We will do politics autrement”.
The slogan of most of these new parties would seem to be: “Here we are, fresh faces!” But, this is just not good enough for a program. Even when they add, “We are not corrupt!” there is still something missing. What made the others become corrupt that would not make you corrupt? Again, this would be a good point to make in a program, in Section C.
Aprofondi demokrasi? Or decrease democracy?
Further bad news is that, where there is a hint of a program, it is generally, itself, confused, not to say misleading, not to say bordering mendacity. Let us take just one example: “Aprofondi demokrasi” All the new parties manage somehow to have a stand in favour of this. Quite rightly so, too. But the first programmatic thing they then come up with is a decree against democracy. They are almost all against more than two mandates for Prime Minister and President! Well, limiting mandates by decree is the removal of democracy from the hands of the people. It is the opposite of “aprofondi demokrasi”.
We can understand that they want to get rid of Ramgoolam, but then they should argue for that, not for limiting mandates in general. We can understand that they believe the Prime Minister has too much power. Well, they should argue, as we do, to return part of that power to the people and part to a strengthened national assembly. We can understand that they think Prime Ministers are around too long, so they could argue for shortening the length of each mandate, letting the people vote more often. These might all “aprofondi demokrasi” but limiting the right to vote to only two mandates signifies that they have lost confidence in the people. It means they want to remove power from the people to decide.
Let’s summarise this point on what “aprofondi demokrasi” does not mean. Decrees to prevent the electorate choosing to vote someone in for more than two terms is not increasing democracy but decreasing it. It is the ultimate sign in a program of despair in the people’s power, in the demos or “people” who are in the very word “demo-cracy”.
Mushrooming just before elections
The fact that parties rise up just in time for elections is yet another sign of their determination to be ephemeral. Labour and the MMM, and LALIT as well, were born of huge, national movements in the working class. Thus their longevity. The PMSD was the historical representative of the ruling class, of the status quo, particularly economic status quo. The MSM lives long because of its birth (being in the MMM) in a widespread working class movement, and then being in power for two decades. All this to say that political parties represent the will of a class. If not, they disappear or do not get born. Parties are not just a gimmick for well-meaning people to come to power through standing for elections. They represent interests. Their program shows which interests. Thus the importance of programs. The importance of LALIT’s program is that it has, at its heart, the long-term interests of humanity and nature, as a whole, by means of supporting the interests of the oppressed classes.
Let’s Get some proper thorough Debate Going!
This article about the mainly bad news surrounding new political parties is designed to be a challenge to the new parties, and the old – a challenge to come up with logically thought-out programs. Then we can debate them. Then we can support or not support the parties, knowing what they stand for. Please visit our web-site, www.lalitmauritius.org and read the section specifically on Programs and Manifestos. Many of the articles in the News, Audio and other sections are, in fact, programmatic in content.
22 July 2014