At LALIT’s members’ assembly held on Sunday 24 November in Grand River North West, Alain Ah Vee gave an outline of the political situation post-elections.
He said that the Lalyans Lepep (the MSM and ML – and with the PMSD, originally) that Pravind Jugnauth led just before the general elections of 7 November had had 44 seats in Parliament at dissolution, having picked up a number of “transfiz”. The MSM had 35, the ML had 7 and with the 2 OPR Members of Parliament, that makes 44.
After the recent elections, the new Jugnauth Alliance Morisien again has 44 seats. So, in a way, it is more of the same.
However, the balance of forces between parties is not the same. The MSM has come out electorally stronger. The MSM has 36 seats now, while the ML has 3, Ganoo’s Mouvement Patriotique has 2, and the Obeegadoo’s Platform Militan has 1, plus the OPR’s 2. The electoral strength of the MSM has been due to its continued accrual of “transfiz”. After Joomye, Soreefan, Lejongard and Wong, followed by Ganoo and his men, the MSM has continued to absorb others like Ramano and then the Obeegadoo group just before the elections.
At the same time as making the MSM stronger, Pravind Jugnauth has also got rid of some of the Aneerood Jugnauth people within the MSM, like Soodhun and Dayal, who did not get investiture, and like Koonjoo and Jhugroo who lost seats in the elections, while others like Bodha have been downgraded. At the same time, Pravind Jugnauth has given hefty responsibilities to ex-MMM people, like Ganoo, Obeegadoo, Ramano and Lejongard. Obeegadoo was even a government spokesman at the Saturday government Press Conference. It is as if Collendavelloo is continuing his avowed aim: gathering together “la grande famille MMM” inside the MSM.
The MSM, in a two-way fight, from Constituency No 5 to No 14 just swept the Labour Party aside, ceding only 3 seats out of the 30.
So, Jugnauth has come out a strong man. This after having tried, even if he failed, to strip some of the DPP’s powers and give them to the Cabinet; having tried and failed to pass an electoral reform that would have given the Electoral Commission draconian powers over parties; having set up 4,000 cameras for the police to spy on the population night and day while building up a data bank on each person, he has nevertheless won the elections. He did it, in large part, by getting the trade unions to support him. In 2014, trade union leader Tulsiraj Benydin was elected and became a PPS, while Rashid Imrith got a Government decoration. Jack Bizlall sang the praises of Pravind Jugnauth. And the CTSP was one of four federations to call for people to recognize the MSM’s contribution to working class gains by voting for Jugnauth’s Alliance Morisien. The MSM-ML had Remuneration Orders updated, improving work conditions in 34 sectors, set up a Minimum Wage for the first time and announced its increase, made laws to allow workers to transfer “lump-sum points” contributed by different bosses, and also brought in the concept of a Negative Income Tax for very low earners. These targeted measures for working class sectors, were made even stronger by doubling pensions and promising to re-double them, paying fees for university students, giving taxi drivers a grant to replace their cars. At the same time, the MSM-ML government did take the Chagos issue to the ICJ and the UN, and won. This, coupled with a spike in nationalism around the Jeux des Iles and the Pope’s visit, added to the bouquet of measures so carefully prepared by the MSM. And this kind of politics can be expected to continue.
New Parliamentary Opposition
The Opposition, even from before elections when the MSM-ML government had its back to the wall over any number of scandals, was unable to mount a proper challenge of any kind.
The MMM is much weakened, following an historic trend towards shrinking, and now has 9 seats, thus Bérenger not even regaining the role of Leader of the Opposition. Though Bérenger pretended he had nation-wide support, it turned out he only had urban support, and that, too mainly in Lower Plaine Wilhems. The MMM will not be able to contemplate going it alone to any new election.
The PMSD has really been knocked down to size, going from 9 to 5 seats and Xavier Duval losing his place as Opposition Leader. Adrien Duval, the Dauphin, was not elected, nor was Perraud. Only three years ago when Xavier Duval resigned from Government, he was pretending that he could become the next Prime Minister.
The Labour Party, with its 12 MPs comes out strengthened electorally, but with the leader Navin Ramgoolam having lost in No 10 and Arvin Boolell thus as Leader of the Opposition. And though Ramgoolam has won his Coffers’ Case, the DPP has put in an Appeal. What is most significant politically is that the Labour Party is leading public contestation of the election results, and is probably behind the irrational and diffuse hysteria being spread. Ramgoolam somehow thought he could win, but didn’t.
So, LALIT finds itself up against a similar Government and Opposition to what we were up against over the past five years. It is a pro-capitalist Government, led by the MSM, that will continue propping up the dying cane industry, continue subsidizing the destruction and selling-off of arable land, while at the same time infuriating the capitalist class by taking popular measures in favour of segments of a fractured working class. It will also go on building a “surveillance state”, and continue to rely on awarding its supporters in the bourgeoisie with contracts, tenders, concessions, legal framework changes, and so on.