[COUP DE GUEULE] A cynical exercise in political survival
Eshan Dinally
Sat 06/15/2024 – 08:26

Ah, our political leaders! We could compare them to teenagers in the middle of a romantic crisis when they negotiate electoral alliances. So in love, they only see the qualities of the other, completely blinded by blissful optimism. Love makes you blind, they say, and this applies particularly well to our dear politicians, these lovebirds of circumstance. They firmly believe that their honeymoon will last forever, which explains the formation of these frequent misalliances.

In view of the next elections, the Labor Party (PTr) and the Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM) will attempt the adventure together for the third time. The first break in the 90s? Let's put it down to youthful impulse. The 2014 divorce? Inevitable after the crushing defeat inflicted by the outsider Militant Socialist Movement (MSM)/Mauritian Social Democratic Party (PMSD).

And now Navin Ramgoolam and Paul Bérenger want us to believe that this third attempt will be a fairy tale thanks to their supposed wisdom. They try to convince us that they have made a clean slate not only by erasing all the harsh criticism and other exchanges of “insanities” during their periods of separation, but also by burying at the bottom of the ocean all their major differences. They return to old age life with feigned innocence, freed from the past and ready to play a new score with new notes.
And let's talk about the surprise that the PMSD has in store for us. Everything seems to indicate that Xavier-Luc Duval will accomplish what many thought impossible: an alliance with the MSM. This is the same leader who, in 2016, with his ministers and other MPs, made the greatest sacrifice a politician can make, by leaving the MSM-led government to protest against the controversial Prosecution Commission plan. .

Many wonder how Xavier-Luc Duval will justify a possible return to the MSM. Especially since, the power in place has shown persistent hostility towards the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), going as far as legal conflicts between the police commissioner and the DPP.

But the signs of rapprochement are not misleading. For several weeks, the secretary general of the PMSD, Mahmad Kodabaccus, has been loudly proclaiming that his party will be in power after the next general elections. No need to be a genius to guess that the blues will return to the MSM.

There are two obvious reasons for this. Firstly, the PTr-MMM-ND alliance leaves no room for the PMSD. This is the second time that the blues are collateral victims of an alliance concluded between the PTr and the MMM. In 2014, Xavier-Luc Duval had to resign from his post as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance. He also had to take his forced distance from the PTr. Second, the extra-parliamentary parties do not have the necessary weight to bring the PMSD to power.
A second sign confirms this trend. When commenting on the Budget in the National Assembly last Tuesday, Xavier-Luc Duval adopted a so-called “neutral” position, very different from that of the other members of the opposition who are firing on all cylinders. In the midst of the pre-election period, this neutrality looks more like a tacit approval of an alliance with the ruling party.
He welcomed the positive measures of the Budget while pointing out some shortcomings. The press described him as being “sometimes conciliatory, sometimes severe”, emphasizing that he alternated between “making eyes with the government” and adopting a “tou siro” attitude towards budgetary measures. The height? The opposition MP was applauded by government members.

The ballet of political alliances in Mauritius evokes a tumultuous comedy where the actors change roles according to the scenes, without worrying about the coherence of the scenario. Yesterday's rivalries turn into today's friendships. Sworn enemies become allies of circumstance. The fiery speeches, the accusations of treason and the declarations of love to the people are only episodes in an endless series of twists and turns where the main plot remains the same: to stay in power or gain access to it.
As a result, political leaders become true masters of justification. They use sophisticated rhetoric to persuade the electorate of the legitimacy of their new alliances, sometimes invoking the stability of the country, sometimes the need to overcome often fictitious or exaggerated crises. They handle the art of jacket reversal with a finesse worthy of the greatest contortionists.

This game of alliances, far from being a simple political strategy, becomes a cynical exercise in survival where principles and convictions are the first to be sacrificed. And so, election after election, the same scenarios are repeated tirelessly. Alliances are made and broken, leaving voters disillusioned and broken promises as a legacy…

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