Politics in Mauritius
May 08 2019
May 08 2019
White sandy shores, azure tropical waters, thriving reefs, sprawling vivid green forests and dramatic volcanic mountains - the sparkling gem of Mauritius is an awe-inspiring destination, popular with travellers from around the world.
Beyond the idyllic tropical terrain, world-class beaches and luxury hotels, Mauritius is a fascinating destination, complete with a rich culture, wonderful people and an unusual blend of influences, languages and religions. What’s more, is that there is a clutch of unforgettable experiences that you can only enjoy in this veritable Garden of Eden.
Another interesting element of this multi-faceted destination centres on its politics and the country’s journey to independence.
If you are heading to this island oasis and would like a deeper understanding of the country, then here’s what you need to know about the politics in Mauritius:
The island won its independence in 1968
Mauritius was colonised by the Dutch, French and British before eventually winning its independence in 1968, with Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam, a leader of the Independence Movement, being named the first Mauritian Prime Minister, a phenomenal feat given the country’s intricate past and challenging path to freedom. In 1992, the country was finally declared a republic.
The political structure in Mauritius today is of a parliamentary democracy
The parliamentary structure in place in Mauritius today draws closely on the British parliament, more specifically, the Westminster model. It’s considered a parliamentary democracy, with multiple parties (a surprising number of political parties given the country’s size, in fact) and elections that are held every five years. The National Assembly, which reigns supreme in Mauritius, consists of 66 seats. 62 of those seats are voted in and 4 are appointed to represent the interests of the minority. The National Assembly that elects the President, who in turn, selects the country’s Prime Minister (who sits above the Vice President). In 2016, the country was considered to be a “full democracy” by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
There are three major political parties in Mauritius
Despite a large number of parties in Mauritius, there are three major players. These include the Labour Party (LP), the Mauritian Militant Movement (also known as the MMM) and the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM). The governments in Mauritius during the most recent decades have been coalitions and alliances, but for many years, the LP or the MSM was at the government’s helm, with an exception between 1982–1983 and 2003–2005, where the MMM stepped in.
Given the culturally diverse landscape of Mauritius, the votes tend to be ethnically linked, despite the main parties sharing many similarities. For example, the MMM tends to appeal to the Creoles (with its very strong socialist ideals) and the LP is largely supported by the Indo-Mauritian population.
The Government of Mauritius is divided into three main parts
The power of the Government in Mauritius is divided into three main parts; the legislative branch, the executive branch and the judiciary branch.
The Legislative Branch
As mentioned previously, the president - and in fact, the Vice President as well - is elected by the National Assembly to run a five-year term. The President and Vice President of Mauritius, along with the Speaker of the National Assembly, then form the legislative office, which has the final say on legislative matters and laws of Mauritius, as detailed in the constitution.
The Executive Branch
The Prime Minister is not appointed by the National Assembly per se, but instead by the President. The cabinet is elected by the President based on recommendations given by the Prime Minister. This cabinet is then responsible in essence for the overarching direction of the government. The executive branch of the government is made up of the Prime Minister, (the actual head of the government in Mauritius) the majority party leader and around 24 ministers.
In Mauritius, the Prime Minister holds the majority of the power, whereas the presidency is largely a ceremonial role (the president is seen as the head of state).
The Judiciary Branch
The law in Mauritius has been inspired by both the French and British legal systems and traditions. The highest judicial court in Mauritius is the Supreme Court and a higher appeal can be taken to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
The President and Prime Minister in Mauritius today
The structure of the coalition governments in Mauritius ensures that no one party can have total control. Today the ruling alliance is Alliance Lepep (made up of the MSM and Muvman Liberater or ML). The last President of Mauritius was Ameenah Gurib-Fakim (from 2015 until he stepped down in 2018). The current acting President in Mauritius is Barlen Vyapoory who stepped in after the resignation of Ameerah Gurib Fakim and the current Prime Minister (since 2017) is Pravind Jugnauth. Another notable Prime Minister was Navin Ramgoolam, interestingly, also a member of an incredibly important political family. In fact, he is the son of the esteemed Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam himself.
Navin Ramgoolam served as the leader of the Labour Party as well as Prime Minister of Mauritius, his first term running from 1995 until 2005 and his second term from 2005 to 2014. In between these dates, from 1991 to 1995 and between 2000 and 2005, he served his country as the leader of the opposition once more.
As is the case with countries all around the world, the politics in Mauritius are often complicated, but as a whole, the country works hard to constantly strive to better its standing in the world and they have come a long way. Today, Mauritius is a wonderfully integrative country - and this “togetherness” should see them rise to greater heights still.