CHAPTER 6: THE CARCASSONNE REPORT

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The next step in the process of consideration of reform was the commissioning in 2011, by the Prime Minister, of the Carcassonne Report.

Appointment
Following a request by the Prime Minister on 14 September 2011, Professor Guy Carcassonne (Paris West University Nanterre La Defense, who has sadly passed away recently), Professor Pere Vilanova (University of Barcelona) and Professor Vernon Bogdanor (King's College, London), together produced the report on the reform of the electoral system on the 5th December 2011.

Views
The authors concluded that the Mauritian election system was outdated for three principal reasons. Firstly, the election results tend to be unbalanced with the victor having a disproportionate number of seats. Secondly, the Best Loser System is questionable in a modern democracy because it returns candidates who failed to achieve the required number of votes and had been defeated. Thirdly, the election system requires candidates to declare not only their political persuasions
but also their ethnic origins, which impedes the development of a national identity.
30 additional seats unnecessary

The Carcassonne Report had the advantage of considering the recommendations of the Sachs Commission, but decided not to follow them. The creation of 30 new seats was believed to be unnecessary in a country with a high proportion of National Assembly members to its population, namely about 1:18,500, as compared with 1:132,000 in Spain, 1:91,000 in the UK and 1:112,000 in France. The Carcassonne Report concluded that Sachs’ proposed additional 30 seats would likely fall to the major parties, which would not be a significant or fruitful progression from the status quo.

Main proposal
The main proposal made by the Carcassonne Report was to abolish the existing First-Past-the-Post and Best Loser systems, replacing them with new constituencies that would elect between four and seven members on a proportional representation basis from a 39

closed party list, in a similar system to that which obtains in Spain. The electoral boundaries would need to be re-drawn, resulting in a reduced number of larger constituencies, with each returning between four and seven members in proportion to the constituencies’ populations, save for Rodrigues where there would be two members. In total there would be about 68 to 70 seats, to allow for population movements. The process of re-drawing the constituencies would be entrusted to the President of the Electoral Supervisory Commission, the Electoral Commissioner, the Director of the Central Statistics Office and possibly two others. Only a two thirds’ majority of the National Assembly would be able to reject the re-drawn constituencies under the proposal.

Party lists
The Report anticipated that parties would have to design inclusive lists fairly representative of communities in the area in order to succeed. Further, there could be a legal requirement that the first two candidates on the party list be of a different gender. The Carcassonne Report suggested proxy voting and a deterrent against “crossing the floor” to facilitate a smooth transition to a proportional representation electoral system. The
Carcassonne Report also made proposals regarding ministers being appointed from outside the ranks of the National Assembly, the formation of Government and the dissolution of the National Assembly.

Best Loser System
The late Professor Carcassonne proposed the replacement of the current Best Loser System by an alternative formula which would keep its underlying objectives without ethnic reference.66
66 “Attention, il ne s’agit pas de supprimer le Best Loser sans trouver un substitut qui garantisse à chaque communauté qu’elle sera normalement représentée. Des substituts, on peut en imaginer. Le droit constitutionnel et la science politique ont fait, depuis 50 ans, des progrès phénoménaux. Nous avons dans la boite à outils un nombre d’instruments incomparables avec ceux de nos prédécesseurs” – quoted in R Sithanen, “Roadmap for a better balance between stability and fairness in the voting formula” (January 2012) p 43