The dust has officially settled and the task of pulling down election campaign materials and the step into the new government has begun. The task of fulfilling campaign promises and building towards a greater country has also officially started.
It was indeed a day of momentous cheer, celebration and jubilation all around. The blue, white and orange flags were all one could see no matter which direction you turned your head to. Across the island of Mauritius, the nation cheered as the fruits of its voting labours were made official: the Alliance Lepep had won general elections 47 seats to the opposing Labour/Militant’s (PTr/MMM) 13. While thousands of people celebrated late into the night whether by joining rallies in their respective towns or remaining at the counting centres to bask in the light of victory, one thing was for certain: people were happy.
With such a momentous moment, follows a period of renewed political optimism. The air feels lighter; people’s moods feel lifted. For the most part that is because one cannot discount that people are treading cautiously until the newly elected government starts flexing its muscles. While the nation waits in anticipation of the obvious changes, a certain pretext has introduced itself. For starters, people feel that the once again prime minister, Sir Anerood Jugnauth (SAJ), needs to understand why he was awarded the title he’s received once more. For now, one can say that the general feeling is one of well meaning advice the citizens have for its new leader backed by the power and promise that votes in numbers will always trump arrogant politicians.
Going forward, thus, people insist the prime minister steer clear of the same pitfalls his predecessor inadvertently ignored. Better governance, less arrogance, more positive running of government seems to be the order of the day too. The renewed political optimism is of course also slightly marked by the hope that all of the past mistakes of the current prime minister too do not make an appearance once more. The Time For Change Is Here was the slogan chanted during campaigns, and now that the people have awarded SAJ the chance to do so, it’s time for that change to see the light of day.
Looking deeper into the election results, a distinct message becomes clear. Once a nation loses respect and hope in politicians, the lack of voting numbers they receive is the consequence of their actions. Even the perceived underdogs in the PTr/MMM alliance – that of the MMM candidates – received more votes than their respective PTr counterparts. In short, the nation simply put PTr out the door. In one fowl swoop, the existing government was cleaned out to make way for a new one demonstrating the sheer power that sits with the nation.
A number of things are the reason people’s votes went the way they did. For starters, while PTr/MMM harped on about modernity and unity and the ever-present idea of a second republic – in an arrogant manner albeit – Lepep concentrated on listening to what the electorate had to say. The campaign was focused around what people on the ground were saying and how they felt government could be improved. It was not until later in the campaign that a tangible manifesto emerged from the PTr/MMM side and by then, it was probably too little and of course too late. Apart from the fact that the campaign was centred on the concept of the second republic which no one really understood, the PTr/MMM arrangement just did not sit well with supporters from both sides after its leaders had been sworn enemies just months before.
Perhaps it was the sheer hypocrisy of the situation that also contributed to Lepep walking away with the votes as people sat back in awe and disgust at the arrogance exhibited in the PTr/MMM alliance campaign. Votes counted for Lepep and against PTr/MMM as one alliance listened and the other couldn’t quiet down long enough to hear their followers’ concerns and needs.
PTr/MMM also made one critical mistake unthinkable for anyone in the political game, or at least should be. The alliance was so dead set on claiming a victory that instead of taking the voters seriously and showing them respect, they played the general public for fools. Just as quickly as a politician can ascend to new leadership heights, so too can the very people who put him there bring him right back down. It is a harsh reality that the democratic power of a country remains in the hands of the large quantities of people in it. Be the vote from a businessman, teacher, or street sweeper, the votes count all the same and no single person should ever be taken for a fool.
The much spoken about Vire Mam series of videos only further amplify my above-mentioned points. The video spun a unique angle on the election campaign in that many people did not realise its importance until the end of elections. While most people sat back and had a good giggle over its well-coordinated music and imagery collaboration, many probably failed to realise the impact it was having with every share, like and mention online. The fact is that it showed how the modern and unified alliance front PTr/MMM were presenting was severely flawed and destined for collapse at some point, sooner rather than later. People saw in that video the fragile state in which the country was and how the power hungry leaders as its main stars were truly just in it for their own personal agenda and not that of the good of the country. Perhaps it was the push that people needed to ensure that the country did not head for any more disaster. No amount of mudslinging from the opposing side could have ever measured the truth demonstrated in the video and the result was that the silly video that Ramgoolam and Bérenger themselves probably laughed off was a contributing factor to the fall of the power desperate duo.
So, while we sit back and reflect on the happenings and sigh with relief that our wardrobe choices no longer show any kind of affliction to a political party whether intended or not, it must be said that the chance for change has been given and it is indeed now up to the opponents selected as worthy of the fight to continue the fight for a democratically sound Mauritius. One that is free from power hungry, ambitious politicians but instead replaced by change makers who put the nation’s votes to the good use they indeed were cast for.