Touria Prayag's Blog

L’Express Weekly, 26 August 2011

Posted in Uncategorized by touriaprayag on February 27, 2012

Right battle, wrong time

The political scene has something of a Mad Hatters’ tea party about it these days. There is a lot of confusion, a great deal of agitation and an open- style campaign which makes one wonder whether we are not missing something. And, suddenly, the most urgent challenge facing our country, it would seem, is electoral reform. That is the biggest obstacle to democracy, you see.

Nobody believes that the talk about electoral reform and the second republic is anything more than a subterfuge for old foes to meet again and discover all these affi nities that just yesterday they did not think they had. The whole thing started with Paul Bérenger who had, up until then, acquired great credibility for his party and himself before he jumped into the fi rst available hotel room to talk with the very person he had accused of all the great sins of Israel. Except that everyone else jumped on this bandwagon and what seemed like the usual political coz coze took on a life of its own.

Of course, they could have talked about the economy, the Vanilla Islands or, if we wanted to have a good laugh, the duty- free island.

Unfortunately, Bérenger picked the wrong battle.

Our existing voting system may not be perfect. It may very well freeze out small parties and exclude some shades of opinion from Parliament.

It may also sometimes produce freak results not proportionate to the level of support parties have. But here is where we have a problem: electoral reform is neither urgent nor trivial. That is why it is best left alone for the time being until heads have cooled off, the proposal has been worked out properly and the population is given a say in a matter which concerns everyone. By focussing on the issue so obsessively and trying to deal with it hastily because politicians see in it an opportunity for their opportunism to thrive, our political leaders run the risk of killing it for another generation.

Besides, much as they would like to have us believe otherwise, all sides have some party interest in the outcome. None is prepared to lose any of its electoral advantage. It is obvious why each party takes the position it does. Partisanship runs deep in everyone and the whole issue will be actuated by low politics rather than high principles. Each party will back a system simply because it is biased toward his party.

So, this is a bad time to re- write the constitution.

It is perhaps time for the politicians of our two major parties to start doing their mea culpa , instead. They should question their opportunism which results in skewing democracy through alliances with minor parties: thanks to them, defeated, unpopular politicians are able to bargain their way into power through coalitions.

Labour has got its teeth into the government and it still has the majority. It should get on with what it was elected to do. We are not interested in the record of the ministers who have resigned. That should be kept for their next campaign. The MSM is in a very unhappy position.

It should lie low for a while. The promised revelations of the victims of a blackmail- turned- sour will convince no one. As for the MMM, they really should listen to their members and their youth a bit more. Paul Bérenger may think he is the biggest winner of this episode. I don’t think so. Not if he continues playing the low politics he has been playing recently. I fear that he may come out as the biggest loser.

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