Both Navin Ramgoolam and Xavier Duval use, as a reason for questioning the General Election results, the “argument”, if it is one, that they knew their L’Alliance Nationale was going to win. Xavier Duval even includes “book-makers” as predicting a PT-PMSD win.
During a campaign, LALIT members do not guess who is supposedly going to win. We are in the election to win all the seats we contest.
But, once the campaign ends, and once voting is completely over, we do then put our minds collectively to this question of predicting who will win the next day. It is an important pivot from being in the election to win, to recognizing the balance of forces – in class terms, in political terms and in electoral terms.
We would like to put on record that LALIT members did not think the Alliance Nationale would win. One by one, we predicted what the results would be – in a playful “miz” – after polling closed.
In fact, it is a LALIT tradition that, when Polling Day closes after a General Election, those of us who can manage transport home afterwards, meet and give a brief report on what happened. Then, after the report by region, and just to check on how close our ears are to the ground, we predict, with a symbolic ONE RUPEE each, how many seats each contending party or Alliance will actually get.
On 7 November (and the figures are still up on the whiteboard at LALIT), there were ELEVEN of our Central Committee members present and participating in the predictions with their symbolic One Rupee. (We assumed OPR would win in Rodrigues.)
Firstly, TEN of the ELEVEN LALIT Central Committee members predicted that the Alliance Morisien would win the most seats. (This was based on what we saw on the ground and what was reported to us by members during the campaign and on voting day, as well as the ambient propaganda and other prejudices floating around.)
One of us gave all three scores spot-on, i.e. 38 for Alliance Morisien, 14 for Alliance Nationale, and 8 for the MMM. Bulls’ Eye!
A second of our Central Committee members gave the Alliance Morisien its precise 38 seats, while the other two shared slightly different results.
A third of our Central Committee members gave the Alliance Nationale its precise 14 seats.
That is how close our predictions were.
So, only one of us thought the Alliance Nationale would get more seats than the other main blocks.
That is how close LALIT’s “collective ear” is to the ground.
So, this article is to say we do not take as “lamone kontan” that elections were rigged because Ramgoolam and Duval thought they would win and didn’t. What they thought is a result of many things including media coverage, social media badinaz, flattery, and staying on the “aiming to win” mind-set even after the end of polling.
However, there are important issues about the electoral system and how it functions well or does not function well that last week’s elections have exposed.
The elections have shown that nearly 7,000 people put in complaints that they were not on the electoral register. This is far too many. The suggestion that a “window” to check one’s name be re-opened when future general elections are declared is an excellent idea. It keeps the onus on the elector, and on the political parties to check, rather than calling for more State or bureaucratic control or surveillance.
However, the fact that the inscription process needs to be improved is not a reason for hysteria, nor for counter-productive demands like calling for the resignation of the Electoral Commission, or for new elections, or for stoking communalism. And this, we must remember, is not the first time Navin Ramgoolam is “perplexed” by results, and not the first time he is threatening to get elections annulled. We must also remember that one of his candidates in these elections had previously had his National Assembly seat taken from him for electoral bribery – for his campaign when he, this former MSM Minister, Ashok Jugnauth, stood as a l’Alliance du Coeur candidate, i.e. in alliance with Guimbeau and ... the MMM! (En passant, you can see why LALIT remains outside these infernal alliances.)
Nor is LALIT saying that it is not important that ballot papers have been found lying around afterwards. It is very serious indeed. How is it that people find ballot papers after the elections? And how come they hand them over to candidates?
A partial scrutiny (via a Court Order) may even be necessary in these two constituencies to help allay fears or to expose possible fraud or to expose possible “set-ups” from beforehand by those wanting to cry “electoral fraud” afterwards.
This latter possibility, by the way, might seem far-fetched. However, in LALIT we have seen this happen in trade union ballots. In fact, we call it the “R.P. method” (we do not name him because he has since passed away). He, as secretary, would make three people vote in the union executive elections when they were not actually on the roll of paid up members entitled to vote. If his side wins, everything goes ahead without anyone ever knowing this happened. If his side loses, however, he immediately writes to the Registrar of Associations to expose the “fraud” and get the election annulled. It actually worked. It worked for the simple reason that three non-members effectively had voted. He set it up. And the election could be annulled. But it did not mean more democracy. It meant less.
And the solution is for all of us to be more vigilant.
There is, in the final analysis, no short cut.
Individual electors, and our own political organizations, must be the ones that watch over electoral lists, and that watch over the electoral process – during voting, around ballot-boxes, and during counting. We must be careful not to call for more “Big Brother” at home, or perhaps in the future to go and call for the intervention of some even Bigger Brother like an imperialist power.