South and Central Asia Desk
Written by: Minahil Nawaz, Yale College ’21
On 6th October 2019, Mauritius’s Prime Minister, Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, dissolved Parliament, and announced that the country would hold general elections on 7 November 2019.
Mauritius, an Indian Ocean island nation, is one of Africa’s most stable nations, as well as a popular tourist destination. With a population of 1.3 million people, it is a steady democracy with economic growth that has led to its rise as a middle income country.
Since Mauritian independence from the British in 1968, politics have been dominated by a few large Hindu families, as Mauritius has a multi-party system. The Mouvement Militant Mauricien (MMM) is led by Paul Berenger, the Labour Party (PTR) is led by Navin Ramgoolam, and the Parti Mauricien Social Démocrate (PMSD) is led by Xavier-Luc Duval. The current Prime Minister, Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, leads the Mouvement Socialiste Militant (MSM). Over the past few decades, political power has shifted between these four large political parties, as parties have had to form strategic alliances during election times and work together to form coalition governments.
Mauritius holds elections every five years, and the last elections were held in 2014. In 2016 however, Anerood Jugnauth stepped down as Prime Minister at the age of 86. He had been President, Prime Minister or the Leader of the Opposition since 1976, and so was known as Rambo, a seemingly unbeatable character. Jugnauth is credited with Mauritius’s ‘economic miracle’ of the 1980s, in which Mauritius established itself as a leader in textile production, and a hub for tourism and financial services.
In 2017, Anerood Jugnauth’s son, Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, took over from his father as Prime Minister and leader of the Mouvement Socialiste Militant (MSM). While constitutionally possible under the Westminster system of government, this move was highly controversial. It was viewed as undemocratic and immoral, particularly among opposition parties.
With the dissolution of Parliament, by law, the country has between 30 and 150 days to organize elections. Jugnauth will now seek another term as leader of the MSM, while the remaining parties shall contest him heavily.
It remains to be seen how the country will sway in these elections – the first since 1976 without their Rambo.