Monday, April 3, 2017

FPTP is a Special Kind of PR System

One that comes with a majority prize. It's a great system as it generates stable government after stable government. This has enabled Mauritius to achieve what it has. Its disadvantage is that a few times the prize may get too big. As we've seen in 1982, 1991, 1995 and 2000. But on the first three of those occasions the alliances did not last very long: between nine and twenty-one months. Which means that our first-past-the-post (FPTP) system saved us from going to vote a number of times because it's not a system which is vote wise and outcome foolish. Plus there are smart ways of correcting the most extreme of its scenarios without resorting to totally undemocratic devices like party lists that would rob voters of an important weapon: the final word to dump a politician.

Adding PR seats to our FPTP setup is not an alternative as we've seen what happened in Rodrigues election after election. It will eat away the stability that the majority prize provides and which is necessary for governments to operate properly. Besides our parliament is already too big. 

A couple of European jokes capture well how lucky we are to have the FPTP system here:

What is European paradise?
British parliamentary system (FPTP)
German engineering
French cuisine
Italian romance

And European hell?
Italian parliamentary system (PR)
French engineering
British cuisine
German romance

Britain has had 20 governments in 100 years. Italy, 20 governments in 5 years.

In fact Italy has had 62 governments between 1946 and 2013. But you get the point.


akagugo said...

I'd say Best Looser is a PR, but I get your point - our system combines the best of both worlds to aim at social peace, which has no price. Just wonder how candidates would have been selected as MP's if a strict PR had been installed since day: strictly ungovernable.
But this can't be seen by those who are deaf-dumb-blind to what it is to be Mauritian.

Sanjay Jagatsingh said...

We need to grapple with a current situation which is entirely different from the days when the BLS was implemented: the fear of a 'Hindu hegemony' fanned by regressive politicians never materialized. Every community can see the progress it has achieved in the first 37 years of our short history. That's thanks to the setting up of the welfare state, progressive taxation, free education, economic diversification, able civil servants and defusing the demographic bomb.

Since 2006 it's as if the clocks of progress have been turned back. Government doesn't have money for its capital budget and there's a horrendous inequality. So we should tweak our democratic space for more voter control. Not less.