The Electoral Evolution In The Island Of Mauritius Politics Essay

23 Mar 2015

This essay has been written and submitted by students and is not an example of our work. Please click this link to view samples of our professional work witten by our professional essay writers. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of EssayCompany.

This introductory chapter projects a clear idea about the central issue of concern in the research. The reasons for this particular investigation are also elaborated. A full statement of the research aims and objectives, based on the stated research problem is included. The chapter ends with a brief of the structure and content of the remaining chapters of the dissertation.

1.0 Overview

Section 1 of the Constitution of the Republic of Mauritius states that Mauritius "shall be a sovereign democratic State which shall be known as the Republic of Mauritius". Section 2 defines that "the Constitution is the supreme law of Mauritius and if any other law is inconsistent with this Constitution, that other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void".

Mauritius is a constitutional parliamentary democracy, based on the Westminster model, which consists of the President and the National Assembly. Elected on a First-Pass-the-post system, at an interval of 5 years, during the General Election, the Assembly makes provision for 70 candidates on 20 constituencies. (The Constitution of the Republic of Mauritius)

However, this model has been often subject to critics. Michael Duggett (2009), in his thesis about the Westminster Model, states that this model is one-dimensional, simplistic and has weakened as well as privatised. Rod Rhodes (2005) expressed his opinion saying that the model is "hollowed-out". This might be a cause which is affecting the level of voter turnout in Mauritius.

1.1 Scope of the study

In this study, I propose to study the different causes of abstention at the General Elections and the policies that can be adopted to reduce this phenomenon. This research relates to the island of Mauritius only and therefore does not include Rodrigues and the other outer islands.

Research Title

The research title is:

"A study of the causes of voting abstention at the General Election in the Island of Mauritius".

Definition of voting abstention

Abstention occurs when an eligible voter does not cast a ballot during an election process. It has been observed that many countries are suffering from a high abstention rate due to the citizens' low participation during elections.

1.3 Problem statement

An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office while vote is a citizen's civic duty; however there are some people who abstain from voting for several reasons. Since our representative democratic model relies on citizen participation in elections, less participation means less representation, therefore, less people who decide for everyone else. "Falling turnout is often seen as a mark of disengagement, if not of actual disaffection" (Norris 1999)

The General Elections of year 2005 and 2010 will be used to show the issue; that is, a rise in voting abstention. Table 1 below shows the rate of abstention at the General Election during the year 2005 and 2010. A detailed analysis of the statistics is given in Appendix A: 'The rate of voting abstention in year 2005' and Appendix B: 'The rate of voting abstention in year 2010'.

Table 1: Rate of abstention during year 2005 & 2010 General Election


No of Registered electors

No of voters

% of voters

Abstention Rate











Average Rate





Source: Electoral Commissioner's Office

1.4 Research Aim

The main aim of the study is to analyse the causes which are decreasing the rate of turnout in the Mauritian General Election.

1.5 Research Objectives

The objectives of this research are as follows:

To calculate the level of abstention and the evolution thereof during the General Election of year 2005 and 2010;

To identify the factors which are likely to affect the decision of Mauritians whether to abstain or to vote;

To find out the policies that can be adopted to alleviate this problem of voter abstention.

1.6 Structure of the dissertation

CHAPTER 1 introduces the issue of voting abstention, the actual electoral system in Mauritius, the right to vote under the Mauritian Constitution, the scope of the study, the research title, the statement of problem is identified, the research aim and the research objectives are pointed out and finally the structure of the dissertation is elaborated in details.

CHAPTER 2 focuses on the political system and its evolution since 1810 before adopting the actual system.

CHAPTER 3 provides a literature review which analyses the different causes that could affect voters from abstaining.

CHAPTER 4 encompasses in detail how the research has been carried out and comprises all relevant information regarding the research methods to meet the objectives of the study.

CHAPTER 5 provides a discussion of results and findings from the survey which has been carried out. Each aspect of the questionnaire had been analyzed and interpreted.

CHAPER 6 provides a conclusion and some recommendations for the benefit of policy makers and administrators and other people interested in this field, together with a conclusion.

1.7 Chapter Conclusion

This first chapter has helped to set out an overview about the topic under investigation. The scope of the study is worked out before giving way to the research aims and objectives. Finally the structuring of the whole report has been elaborated.



2.0 A Historical Background

The Island of Mauritius has been consequently conquered by Arab Sailors, Portuguese, Dutch, French and the British. The Arab sailors were the first who visited the island which was named as Dina Arobi. The Portuguese came in year 1507, followed by the Dutch during the year 1598 who renamed the island as Mauritius. In 1715, the French took control of the island and renamed it Ile de France. Ile de France was formally surrendered to the British, on the 3rd December 1810, where the island's name was reverted to Mauritius. During their abdication, the French was allowed to keep their land and property and to use the French language and law of France in civil and criminal matters on the island. (Prisheela Motee, The library Congress, South Travels, Oracle, Encyclopaedia 2007, Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa)

2.1 Electoral System

Mauritius has experienced a number of electoral systems since 1810 before adopting the actual system. The electoral system of Mauritius is based on the majority rule and government stability as it comprises of a fair representation of the population. The choice of government is made by citizens. (Prisheela Motee, The library Congress, South Travels, Oracle, Encyclopaedia 2007, Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa)

2.1.1 One Man One Rule (1810-1886)

During 1810-1886, Mauritius was under the British Colonial Rule whereby the governor was enjoying all the law-making and decision-making process over Franco-Mauritian elite. It was a one man one rule policy.

In 1825, Mauritius obtained its first Constitution under which a Council of Government, which consisted of 4 top officials: Chief Justice, Chief Secretary, Commander of forces and Collector of Customs, was set up.

Later, in 1885, the Constitution was revised and enlarged to make room for elected representatives. The new Council of Government provided 27 members, including 10 elected members, on a restricted franchise. (Prisheela Motee, The library Congress, South Travels, Oracle, Encyclopaedia 2007, Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa)

2.1.2 First-Pass-The-Post-System (FPTP) (1886-1958)

Year 1886, welcomes Mauritius' first General Election (G.E) under the British Rule. The G.E was limited to wealthy property owners, who constituted only 2 percent of the adult population; that is, out of 365,000 inhabitants, only 12,000 of which all were men, could vote.

2 out of 10 elected members were from Port-Louis and 1 from each 8 districts. Under the 1885 Constitution, Mauritius was divided into 9 constituencies and each constituency elected one representative and Port-Louis, the capital, in relation to highest number of population returned two candidates to the legislative.

The elections were held during nine days: from 11-20 January; and were based on the first-past-the-post system. Traces of the 1886 Constitution, can be found in the actual electoral system as the FPTP has been prevailing in Mauritius whereby the candidate receiving the highest number of votes were elected.

Due to World War II, G.E could not be held during 1939-1945. The second G.E was then held in 1948, after that the 1886 Constitution was replaced by a new one, which allowed all those above 21 years old who could sign their name in any of the following languages: English, French, Creole, or any Indian languages, to vote through FPTP. Out of 419,000; 72,000 inhabitants, including 12,000 women, were registered electors.

Following constitutional conventions held in London in 1955 and 1957, the ministerial system was initiated and G.E was held on 9th March 1959. Voting took place for the first time on the basis of universal adult suffrage and the number of electors rose to 208,684. (Prisheela Motee, The library Congress, South Travels, Oracle, Encyclopaedia 2007, Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa)

2.1.3 London Agreement (1956-1957)

Due to Mauritius' multi-ethnic society the issue of an ideal electoral system has been a real concern. Since 1956, there was a need for a proper representation of the citizens in the Parliament. In the first London Agreement in 1957, the concept of Proportional Representation (PR) in the system was bluntly rejected. The agreement was supposed to eradicate communal ideology and encourage a system based on political parties not religion. The citizens wanted an ethnic reassurance where PR could prevailed in the National Assembly.

The Mauritius Labour Party (MLP) under the successive leaderships of Dr Maurice Cure and Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam persistently struggled not only for universal suffrage and responsible Government, but also a ministerial form of Government, a decrease in the number of nominees and an increase in that of elected members, changes in the composition of the Executive Council, the appointment of a Speaker and the majority party leader to be styled Prime Minister. During the 1955 Constitutional Conference which was held in London, the MLP requested some constitutional changes. The London Agreement envisaged nomination of maximum of 12 nominees to ensure fair representation. The right to vote was franchise to both sexes over the age of twenty-one and symbols were introduced to facilitate uneducated voters. The number of electors rose to 207,000 at the 1957 elections. (Prisheela Motee, The library Congress, South Travels, Oracle, Encyclopaedia 2007, Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa)

2.1.4 Trustram-Eve Recommendations (1957)

In year 1957, Sir Malcolm Trustram Eve; member of the London Agreement, recommended a 40 single-member constituency system along with the FPTP system. This implies that there is no need for a majority overall to win over a seat.

The year 1957 had launched the Ministerial system where the elected candidates were able to decide upon policy issues in many areas. The Ministerial system comprised of nine ministers out of whom six were elected and three nominated. Despite the fact that it was not a fully elected body, the island had its first representative body and the Executive Council was chaired by the Governor.

Trustram's recommendation was to ensure ethnic and communal representation in the legislative. The nominees are the ancestors of the best loser system. In 1964, in view of not upsetting the population, the governors did not increase the number of nominees. (Prisheela Motee, The library Congress, South Travels, Oracle, Encyclopaedia 2007, Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa)

2.1.5 Banwell Report (1966)

The Banwell Report was initially based on the Trustram's-Eve recommendations. Part of Mauritius actual electoral system is based on Banwell Recommendations. Banwell Commission was set up after the proposals made for an electoral system, at the Lancaster House Conference of September 1965, failed.

Banwell then proposed the followings:

20 constituencies returning 3 members in Mauritius and 2 members in Rodrigues.

A division of the population for electoral law purposes: Hindu, Muslin, Chinese and the General Population.

Use of FPTP in theory and the three pass the post in practice.

5 constant best loser seats to be filled as soon as results of general election are official so as to overcome the problem of under representation.

Candidates chosen as best losers should secure largest number of votes among the defeated candidates belonging to the under-represented community and 10% of the general votes.

Any party receiving more than 25% of the total vote and less than 25% seats in Parliament would be reallocated to bring its share to 25%.

The last proposal was rejected by the MLP, then Stonehouse; MLP's friend, was called as a negotiator. (Prisheela Motee, The library Congress, South Travels, Oracle, Encyclopaedia 2007, Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa) Stonehouse Modifications

Stonehouse modified the 5 constant correctives to the 8 best loser votes. The variable correctives and the 10% votes were also rejected. The first 4 best losers seats were to be allocated to parties belonging to under presented communities irrespective to party affiliation .The community for the first 4 best losers is obtained by dividing the population of each of the communities by number of seats obtained by that community in general election plus one. The second 4 best losers were allocated on party and community basis. (Prisheela Motee, The library Congress, South Travels, Oracle, Encyclopaedia 2007, Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa) The final proposal and actual electoral system

The final proposal and the actual electoral system is based on Banwell recommendations and modified by Stonehouse.

There are 70 members in the parliament ,60 out of the 70 are directly elected through FPTP in 20 constituencies with returning 3 candidates each and Rodrigues 2 candidates as shown in the table below. The remaining 8 are the best losers chosen by the Electoral Supervisory Commission immediately after results of general elections. This structure has been basically maintained up to now. (Prisheela Motee, The library Congress, South Travels, Oracle, Encyclopaedia 2007, Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa)

2.1.6 Independence

The 1967 election brought a milestone in the history of Mauritius. About 90% of the electorate voted. PMSD fought against independence while MLP fought for independence. PMSD was defeated and MLP won 39 seats by obtaining 54% of the national votes. Mauritius acceded to the status of independence on the 12th March 1968.

The first parliamentary election which took place on the 20th December 1976 amended the right to vote. Those aged 18 and above could vote. Out of 462,034, 170,000 were new eligible voters. The first general election after independence was an electoral victory. It was the first time that a single party alliance; Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM) and Parti Socialiste Mauricien (PSM), won all 60 seats. Subsequently, the contribution was altered to guarantee that legislation elections occur every five years. Parliamentary by-elections were also reinstated. (Prisheela Motee, The library Congress, South Travels, Oracle, Encyclopaedia 2007, Electoral institute for sustainable democracy in Africa)

2.1.7 Westminster Model

"The Constitution of Mauritius provides for the Parliament of Mauritius to consist of the President and the National Assembly. The Parliament of Mauritius is modeled after the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy, where Members of Parliament are voted in at regular general elections, on the basis of a first past the post system." (Official site of the Republic of Mauritius-The Parliament)

The Westminster System guarantees the separation of the legislative, executive and judicial powers. Political power rests on the Prime Minister and the cabinet. Sixty-two members of Parliament are elected every five years by universal adult suffrage and all major political parties are represented in Parliament. 

The Legislative Assembly became the National Assembly. The Governor General was replaced by the President of the Republic. The latter is elected by the legislative upon the recommendation of the Prime Minister. (Dukhira, 2002)


3.0 Introduction

A vote is an electorate's act of voting, whereby voting is the civic duty of every citizen. It is the starting and the ending point of every democracy. In general, the voting system allows electors to select a candidate or a party.

The citizens' participation in election is important for democracy. If citizens do not have a hand in political things (especially elections) democracy is exposed to weakening risks. (Pasquino, 1983).

Citizens derive a direct benefit from fulfilling this duty. However, it is indeed serious because some citizen abstains from their civic duty. The decrease in the rate of voter turnout has been constantly observed. It is contended that voter turnout and voter abstention are closely related to one-another. These two factors will be used interchangeably throughout this study but as opposites of each other.

Poole and Rosenthal (1997) argue that the decision to vote or to abstain can be formulated with the equation:

R=P (B)-C+D

where R is the net reward from voting, B is the material benefit brought about by voting, P is the probability that one's vote makes a difference, C is the cost associated with voting, and D is the fixed benefit of voting.

Electors will abstain if the perceived benefits of abstention will exceed the perceived costs. This can be formulated by an equation: R= (P (B))-(C+D))>0.

On the other hand, Corey Brettschneider (2007) claimed that: mutual respect, equality or autonomy, are the core substantive values associated to the right to vote. These values should make the right to vote worth being enjoyable and exercisable, rather than the other way round. Riker and Ordeshook (1968) introduced the "citizen duty" notion to explain the issue of voter turnout.

This literature review addresses the causes, factors leading to a decrease of voter turnout and an increase in voting abstention.

3.1 Voter Abstention

Abstention occurs when an eligible voter does not cast a ballot during an election process. It has been observed that many countries are suffering from a high abstention rate due to the citizens' low participation during elections.

"Abstention is 'a real concern' and 'a challenge for politicians, who must persuade the public of the need to vote, according to Seddik Chihas of the National Democratic Rally (RND)." (Ademe Amine, 2012).

Abstention shall not be compared with "blank vote" where an eligible voter purposely spoils a vote by marking it wrongly or by marking anything at all, whereby abstention is when the electorate does not vote at all.

3.1.1 Un-informed electors

According to Arianna Degan's and Antonio Merlo's study in 2004, "who votes and for who people vote determine the outcome of the elections." It is of high importance for candidates during elections to ensure the participation of their citizens and as well as their voting decisions.

Abstention occurs when there is a lack of information about the candidates, (Arianna Degan and Antonio Merlo, 2004), who make the wrong decision or the wrong choice. This can be costly to the elections where a wrong candidate might be elected. Some electors might also feel unmotivated to vote due to a feeling of uncertainty towards candidates but when a citizen is well informed about his "civic duty" and the "electoral candidates", he will definitely participate during elections and vote for the right candidate.

3.2 Voter Turnout

Voter turnout is the percentage of eligible voters who cast a ballot in an election. Eligible voters shall not be compared with the total adult population because some adults are not eligible to vote. Voter turnout is an essential quality of fair election and is considered to be a necessary factor for a healthy democracy. Low turnout is generally accredited to disengagement from the system because of perceived efficacy of voting in altering policy decisions. Consequently established democracies with free elections usually have higher turnout than other states.

Understanding voter turnout

Voting turnout has often been used to judge the evolution of democratic countries, (Scot and Barbara, 2005). The act of voting depicts the preference of the citizens as this show "the extent to which the citizens are actually interested in being represented."(Fair Vote Canada; Lijphart, 1996)

However, low level of participation is being noticed on behalf of eligible voters. This is due to disenchantment, indifference, or contentment. As such a poll with low turnout is not reliable, because it does not show what the whole country wants; it shows only part of the citizens' will. For example, an elector may have abstained from voting because her favourite party had no chances of attaining representation.

Different countries have very different average voter turnouts. Low turnout can be expressed differently. For example, in developed countries, the young and the poor are the abstainers. However, India which comprises of an electorate of more than 670 million people, the contrary is found. The poor, who comprises of the majority of the demographic, tend to vote more than the rich and the middle- class, and turnout is higher in rural areas than in urban areas ( D.Gupta, 2004)

3.2.2 Socio- economic factors

Citizens participate politically when their level of wealth and education increases because they are more informed and has a feeling of efficacy. This leads to a higher political participation (Lijphart, 1997). According to Ioannis and Phil (2005), sociologist argues that the political behaviour, the identification with a party's values and people's interest to vote are affected by the socio.economic characteristics. Turnout is higher among those with higher income, those of higher education, white -collar workers, whites, men, middle-aged , older voters, those with closer community ties, those married and the members of organizations.

In developing countries, to maintain security and economic development in case when things are bad, citizens tend to vote in great numbers (Radcliff 1992; Fornos et al.2004)

Cultural Factor

The educational level and the wealth of the country affect turnout but these are not reliable measures as in countries like Europe, in spite of the fact that it is wealthy and have a high rate of literacy, the level of turnout is found to be low.

Despite the fact, that countries, like those in Europe and Latin America have a newer democracy, they do not have the cultural habit of voting. The eligible voters do not have the sense of civic duty, which takes time and certain social conditions to develop. These social conditions developed by G. Bingham Powell are:

trust in government,

the degree of partisanship among the population,

interest in politics, and

belief in the efficiency of voting.

Political Factor

Crewe et al. (1992) traced four factors associated with turnout irregularity:

being young,

having recently moved home,

the type of housing tenure, and,

marital status(single or divorced).

These factors are inter-correlated but they have an independent effect on turnout. According to Crewe et al. (1992), isolation from personal and national networks resulted in a lack of political information or pressure to vote, thus, lowering turnout due to a lack of motivation.

Weak or absent party emerged as another important source of irregular voting (Crewe et al, 1992). According to their study, the identification of age and strength are inter-dependently related to voter turnout.

A lack in the government performance also carries a negative impact upon turnout. Strong political competition and ideological cleavages between parties tend to increase turnout (Dalton, 1988).

Institutional Factor

Institutional factors have a significant impact on voter turnout. These variables are classified into three categories:

Electoral rules,

Perception of the effectiveness of governing institutions,


Electoral rules

Variables in electoral rules include compulsory voting, registration rules and voting age.

Compulsory voting

Compulsory voting increases turnout because once voting is made mandatory, people follow the rule irrespective of the punitive sanctions for non-voting (Lijphart 1997). However, in Venezuela and the Netherlands compulsory voting has been rescinded, due to a decrease in turnout. On the other hand, Paraguay having a compulsory voting system imposes payment of a fine and ineligibility for elective office for a prescribed period. Colombia and Nicaragua also have compulsory voting. In Greece voting is compulsory; however there are practically no sanctions for those who do not vote. In Belgium voting is compulsory, too, but not strongly enforced.

Registration rules

Automatic and compulsory registration often leads to a low turnout because even those who are not eligible, as stated below in the case study: The Republic of Mauritius: Disqualified voters, are on the registration list which gives false survey.

Conversely, an election where registration is voluntary or requires a personal initiative ought to be associated with higher voter turnout, because the institutional obstacle of registration has already been surmounted. (Payne et al, 2002)

Voting age

Voting age has been found to be positively associated to voting turnout as younger citizens are "less exposed to politics" (Wolfinger and Rosenstone, 1980) and are less likely to vote as older voters. Compared to the youths, the older generations tend to have the sense of civic duty. Older people vote more than youths. The act of voting is also seen as part of the young people "coming-of-age" ritual. Perception of the effectiveness of governing institutions

Variables in the governing effectiveness category include the number of political parties, the relative power of the lower house, federalism or the centralization of the government, and concurrent elections. These variables may affect voters' perceptions of the effectiveness or the policy of the powers of the elected officials.

The number of political parties

Jackman (1987) argues that multi parties' lead to coalition building to policy ambiguity and compromise. It is expected to reduce the probability of legislative majorities and worsen executive legislative cooperation which may lead to rendering the electoral process less consequential.

The relative power of the lower house

This unicameral legislature has to adopt the majoritarian policy to be more effective. This is supposed to render voting to be more meaningful.

The centralization of the government

Centralized government is more effective, efficient and decisive. Jones (1997) argues that federal political arrangements create new electoral dynamics. The federalism variable is ought to capture longer ballots, which are believed to reduce turnout and the presence of unique local election laws that may deter voting.

Concurrent elections

Concurrent election means the instances when presidential and legislative elections are held at the same time. Concurrent election is supposed to increase voter turnout as it is expected to contribute to the perception that the election is more relevant. Mobilization

Institutional variables in the mobilization category include district magnitude and electoral disproportionality.

District magnitude

As district magnitude increases political parties have more incentives to retain all seats found in a particular district (Powell, 1986). With a smaller pool of candidates or political parties competing for votes in the district, the distribution of patronage will be more visible and more certain which is ought to result in greater voter mobilization.

Electoral disproportionality

Electoral disproportionality occurs when parties receive electoral support that does not translate into representation in the legislature in which case, votes have been wasted (Burnham 1987). Wasted votes are found to be associated negatively with voting turnout as parties have less of an incentive to turn out to vote. Salience

Mark. N. Franklin (1997) argues that salience is the effect of a vote of an eligible voter over a country. Salient issues are politically important as public opinions are likely to structure party support and voting behaviour and form the subject of political debate. Voters' perceptions of fairness impact on salience. Citizens will not cast any ballot if they feel that the election is not worthy, corrupted and determined by fraud thus relating to low voter turnout.

Gender Abstention

For ages, gender inequality has been prevailing. Women were considered to be inferior to men. Women were confined in a more private sphere leaving men in a public one, especially in politics due to a combination of psychological and sociological causes. If we refer to classical literature, we shall see how women were kept away from the social aspect of life. Women roles in the society were to be a mother, a wife, a sister or a friend. This practice has prevailed for years. There is only a minority of women who participates in the society.

However an analysis at the end of 90's in 19 centuries (Norris et al, 2003) confirmed that Norway had a female participation rate significantly higher than men, in Germany, Great Britain and Spain men and women abstention rates were very close, and in all countries there was an invasion in the youngest ages, female children vote more than their mothers.

Voter Fatigue

Voter fatigue tends to lower turnout. This occurs when participants do not find any interest to cast a ballot. They get bored and reject participation. This may be due to frequent election. Eileen Park, a journalist, reported on 31 March 2012 that voter fatigue might be a cause to influence the public not to vote though being at the eve of the GOP (Grand Old Party) Presidential Election in Wisconsin. The public were no more motivated to vote.

Voter Suppression

Voter suppression is used as a stratagem to influence the outcome of an election by preventing or discouraging people from exercising their right to vote. Spencer Overton wrote that "Voters don't choose politicians-politicians choose voters by manipulating election rules".

Voter suppression has been widely used in the Southern States of the United States until the Voting Rights Act (1965) made most disenfranchisement and voting qualification illegal. This Act was enacted to protect the Africans Americans from discriminatory voting practices in the United States.

According to a web page, "the geography of the race in the U.S", the techniques of disenfranchisement are violence, fraud, poll taxes, literacy tests, restrictive and arbitrary registration practices, the white primary. Africans were discriminated; some were even murdered to threaten others from voting. When some Africans were able to cast a vote, there vote were neglected. They also had to pay back all taxes to be permitted to vote. In South Carolina, boxes of ballots were not in order so as to discourage and prevent those who were illiterate from voting. In other states, registrations of voters were made often to enable those who do not have a long term stay in a particular residence. They were asked for provision of information unavailable to many blacks, for instance street addresses, when black neighbourhoods lacked street names and numbers. The white primary is where blacks were not allowed to stand as a candidate. Only the whites had the legitimate right as a candidate.

Force Majeure and Accessibility

Force majeure are involuntary non-voting. According to Montero, JR. (1990), this issue may rise due to "work problems, census' defects or difficulties linked to health or age". R. Johnson and C. Pattie (2003) in there thesis upon the General Election of the United Kingdom for the year 2001, 45% of the population were unable to vote because of circumstances beyond control. Force majeure occurs for natural and unavoidable catastrophes that interrupt the expected course of events and restrict participants from fulfilling obligations. These unavoidable issues could be due to illness, death, marriage, fights, car breakdown and so on.

According to a research carried out by Gerald Mills in Ireland in September 2003, at an aggregate level, turnout is a measure of the level of participation in the political process. Varying rates of turnout and abstention may be broadly attributed to either circumstantial cause, such as, illness, disability, registration problems, going on a holiday or voluntary reasons, for instance, lack of interest, lack of knowledge, and dissatisfaction with politicians or the political process. His research also examines the proposition that an important variable that explains differences in voter turnout is the accessibility of the voting place for the voting population. Simply put, the concentration here is that turnout varies inversely with distance from the place of voting.

3.7 Certainty that a party will win

Predictable election results may affect voter turnout. According to the Bill Clinton's re-election, the United Kingdom general election of 2001, and the 2005 Spanish referendum on the European Constitution, has produced landslides results on a low turnout.

The party identification model by Harrop and Miller (1987), suggests that when voters develop a long term psychological attachment to political parties at an early age, voting becomes a habit rather than a choice based on political factors such as the party's policies or performance in office. This might be the reason which drives people to believe that a particular party will win.

3.8 Proposed Hypothesis

The following hypotheses will be tested in relation to the Mauritian context. Hypothesis 1 to hypothesis 7 are analyse in the individual analysis of the questions found in the survey, that is, by bar chart, pie chart columns, while hypotheses 8 and 9 are analyse using Pearson's correlation method.

Hypothesis 1:

H0: There is no association between voter abstention and voting age.

H1: There is an association between voter abstention and voting age.

Hypothesis 2:

H0: There is no association between voter abstention and gender.

H1: There is an association between voter abstention and gender.

Hypothesis 3:

H0: There is no association between voter abstention and voter fatigue.

H1: There is an association between voter abstention and voter fatigue.

Hypothesis 4:

H0: There is no association between voter abstention and civic duty.

H1: There is an association between voter abstention and civic duty.

Hypothesis 5:

H0: There is no association between voter abstention and circumstantial factors.

H1: There is an association between voter abstention and circumstantial factors.

Hypothesis 6:

H0: There is no association between voter abstention and accessibility to vote.

H1: There is an association between voter abstention and accessibility to vote.

Hypothesis 7:

H0: There is no association between voter abstention and the certainty that a party will win or lose.

H1: There is an association between voter abstention and the certainty that a party will win or lose.

Hypothesis 8:

H0: There is no association between gross monthly income and the importance of voting.

H1: There is an association between gross monthly income and the importance of voting.

Hypothesis 9:

H0: There is no association between age group and the voters having an interest in politics.

H1: There is an association between age group and the voters having an interest in politics.


4.0 Introduction

Research Methodology is a vital feature in any research. It is therefore important that an appropriate methodology is used; otherwise the very purpose of the research, that is, the causes which give rise to voter abstention, may be defeated. The research has to be done in a systematic way and carried out step-by-step.

4.1 Research Process

Kotler (2002) suggested five steps of the research process. The five steps are as follows:

Step 1: Define the problems and research objectives

Step 2: Develop the research plan

Step 3: Collect the information

Step 4: Analyse the information

Step 5: Drafting of the report and recommendations

4.1.1 Research Problem and Objectives

The research problem is the causes which are giving a rise to voting abstention, thus, decreasing the rate of turnout during the General Elections.

The emanating objectives are as follows:

To find out the reasons for abstention at the General Elections.

To identify whether income level, force majeure, certainty that a particular will win, are causes of abstention.

To understand the reasons for voting and abstention among the different section of the population, including those with respect to:

Age group



Level of education

To study the factors that motivate electors to vote for a particular candidate, party or alliance

To make recommendations in the light of the findings.

4.2 Research Paradigm

Research design may be defined as a plan sketched out for the purpose of carrying out an investigation purposed to yield meaningful data essential towards answering the research, questions formulated. It is indeed most important to select the right and most feasible research methods and techniques to explore the central issue under focus.

According to Churchill (1996) research designs can be classified in three broad categories depending on the fundamental objectives of the research. These three categories are:

The Exploration Research: focuses how to gain ideas and insights into a problem.

The Causal Research: used to determine the cause and effect relationships

The Descriptive Research: helps to describe a particular situation.

This research is divided into two parts. The first part concentrates on abstention rate at the General Elections in Mauritius and its evolution during the last two elections, that is, year 2005 and 2010. It is of a descriptive nature and uses secondary data. The second part involves a survey questionnaire (Appendix C). It is both exploratory, as it investigates into the reasons for abstention, and causal because it looks for the factors that cause people to abstain from voting.

4.3 Data Collection

Data collection involves "the gathering of information required answering the designated research questions" (Wearne and Morrison, 1996). Traditionally, information sources have been divided into primary and secondary. For the study, both sources of data were used.

4.3.1 Secondary Data

Secondary data are data that already exist and which were collected for some other (primary) purpose but which can be used a second time in the current project. (Veal, 1997). Consequently, for the study secondary data have been obtained from various academic journals (such as Emerald and EBSCO), academic review, publications, The Constitution of the Republic of Mauritius, statistical compilations (Central Statistical Office) and also through internet.

4.3.2 Primary Data

According to Wearne et al. (2000), primary research is "data collected directly by the researcher and did not exist prior to this process of collection." Hence, in this study data was gathered through a survey; by means of a questionnaire (Appendix C). The survey was carried out to know the reasons for abstention at general elections. The questionnaire was handed to a sample of respondents.

4.3.3 Questionnaire Design

The questionnaire was set out in an easy way so that respondents do not feel uneasy or embarrassed to answer. The first section covers the personal particulars of the respondent while Section B analyses the importance of voting and the reasons for abstaining. It comprises of 14 questions in all.

4.3.4 Covering Letter/Note

A covering letter/note was attached to the front of each questionnaire stating the reason and purpose of the survey. It was well pointed out that the research was merely for academic purpose (Refer to Appendix C). The respondents were also assured of the confidentiality aspects of the data gathered. The covering letter was important to prevent conflict to arise and to fill the questionnaire without any fear or hesitation.

4.4 Sample size

The targeted sample size for this survey was initially 300 electors who have abstained from voting once in their life but only 288 positive responses were obtained and 5 were not properly filled and were consequently rejected. The other remaining 7 respondents were reluctant to answer the questionnaire.

4.4.1 Mode of Contact

The contact method used was personal interviewing. The respondents were all briefed about the purpose of the study and the nature of the survey exercise. No one was pressurized, and only those who were identified as being needed for the study were interviewed once their voluntary willingness to participate as respondents was obtained.

4.5 Data Processing and Representation

The aim of data analysis is to make sense out of the information gathered through the previous stages of research, and to identify the meaning of data contained, which ultimately answers the research questions. Data was collected, conceptually organized, interrelated and evaluated. SPSS and Microsoft Excel 2007 were used to analyse the data.

4.6 Ethical Consideration


The purpose of the proposed study was objectively explained and all assurances in terms of ethical considerations (protection of identity, non-disclosure of secret information, confidentiality etc.) were provided.


No malpractice or deliberate attempts to cheat respondents into consenting to the exercise or deceive them otherwise were used. The topic was presented to them as well as how the data will be used.

Withdrawal from the Investigation

From the very start of the data gathering processes, all participants were informed that they would be FREE to withdraw from such exercise without any prejudice or harm caused to them, at any time.

Protection of Participants

Participants were assured that questionnaires will be destroyed by shredding after the submission of the project report and that it will be used for academic purposes only. Also, every precaution was taken to avoid prejudice or harm in any way whatsoever.

Data Protection

As already hinted at, responses gathered during interviews will be destroyed after the submission of this report.

4.7 Problems Encountered

Some problems were encountered during this study. They can be classified as follows:

Respondent bias: Some respondents purposely tried to show a higher level of knowledge in the subject. They tried to inflate certain reactions. The possible reasons could be that some respondents wanted to give a better image of them. They might have also been surveyed for the first time hence answering more by curiosity.

Continuous assistance: This survey targets all eligible voters who have abstained from voting once in their life. Some respondents had no formal education and needed continuous assistance. Moreover, as stated previously, some questionnaires were not correctly filled, so there was a need to continuously assist the respondent to explain how to fill the questionnaire.

Reluctant to participate: The 7 eligible electors were reluctant to participate, fearing that confidentiality will not be ensured as this issue is of a sensitive nature.

4.8 Chapter Conclusion

This chapter has enumerated how the research is to take place. It started by enunciating the problem under investigation, and channeled down to the elaboration on the research plan itself before data gathering takes place. The research process was elaborated and gave way to the very first step that is the formulation of the research problem. The paradigm behind the research was also detailed along by establishing the type of study the researcher has attempted. The instruments used for the research was the questionnaire. Afterward the sampling size was established before handing the questionnaire. It is to be noted that all ethical considerations were strictly adhered to. Finally the problem encountered during the study was also elaborated.


Wearne and Morrison (1996) define research as "the systematic gathering of qualified information to establish facts". Accordingly, research is carried out to determine what is happening and why. After the analysis part a conclusion of the chapter is given.

5.1 Descriptive Statistics

To describe the basic features pertaining to the data gathered for the purpose of this current study, descriptive statistics was resorted to. These provide summaries about the sample and the relevant measurement.

5.2 Data Presentation and Analysis

The data collected from the questionnaires is presented in the following charts which show the situation regarding the sample population of 288 eligible voters. This research was carried out to know the reasons for abstention at the General Election in the Island of Mauritius.

5.2.1 Age Group

Table 4: Age Group

Figure 5.2.1: Age Group

The above figures identify the age group of the respondents. 71 participants belonged to the age group of 18-27 years old making up of about 25% of the population. 17%, that is, 49 people belonged to an age group of 28-37 years old. There are 85 participants belonging to the age group of 38-47 years old, which is about 30% of the sample population. 44 respondents belonged to an age group of 48-57 years old making up 15% of the sample population. The last identified sample belongs to an age group of above 57 years old making up a population of 14%. However, voting age is positively associated to voting turnout as younger citizens are less exposed to politics and are less likely to vote as older voters. (Wolfinger & Rosentstone, 1980)

5.2.2 Gender Representation

Table 5: Gender Representation










Figure 5.2.2: Gender Representation

The chart above identifies the gender specifications of the group who participated in the survey. In the sample of 288 participants, 148 were male and 140 were female. The male population represents 51% of the sample and the female represent 49% of the sample as displayed in the graph above. Referring to the classical literature, women were considered inferior to men and were confined in a more private sphere. However Norris et al (2003) conceded a higher participation of women than men in Norway and Germany, Great Britain and Spain abstention rate were close.

5.2.3 Academic Qualification

Table 6: Academic Qualification




no formal education


primary education


secondary education


tertiary education




Figure 5.2.3: Academic Qualification

Regarding the academic qualifications of the sample, a larger share of the sample has studied up to the secondary level makes up a population of 54%. 44 participants, that is, 15 % had no formal education and this does not prevent them from showing their interest in this particular issue of voting abstention. 70 participants studied up to the tertiary level while 6% of the participants have a primary level of education. This shows that regardless of their age or opinion whether to vote or not, people are still concerned when it comes to the issue of vote at the General Election. (Lijphart, 1997) states that when level of education increases, citizens tend to participate more politically.

5.2.4 Marital Status

Table 7: Marital Status













Figure 5.2.4: Marital Status

The above figures show the marital status of the participants, that is, whether they are single, married, divorced or widowed. A larger sample of the participants is married, symbolising 64% of population. 82 participants are single, making up 29% of the sample size. 6 participants, that is, 16 participants are widowed while 5 participants are divorced. Ioannis and Phil (2005) argue that turnout is higher between married persons.

5.2.5 Occupation

Table 8: Occupation




government employee


private sector employee










Figure 5.2.5: Occupation

Analysing the occupations of the participants and the role they play in the society, one can find that 23 of them are retired, which is approximately 8%. 45 of them, that is, about 16% are self-employed. 55 unemployed have also participated in the survey, which makes up about 19% of the sample size. There were 79 private sector employees who also took part in the survey, about 27% of the sample. 86 participants were employed by the public sector, which amounts to about 30% of the sample population.

5.2.6 Income Level

Table 9: Income Level






up to 5000










Figure 5.2.6: Income Level

The above figures illustrate that 113 out of the 288 participants' income level fall in between 5,001-10,000 which is about 39% of the whole sample. 37%, that is, 107 of the respondents' income level fall in between 10001 to 25,000. 36 respondents who were unemployed had no income which is about 12% of the sample. 22 respondents which make about 8% of the sample size income level are below 5000 and the remaining 4% had a higher income level, 25,001-50,000. There were no respondents who had an income level above 50,001. Ioannis and Phil (2005) affirm that turnout is higher among those is higher income.

5.2.7 To what extent are you interested in politics?

Table 10: Level of Interest in Politics




strongly interested




neither interested nor uninterested






Figure 5.2.7: Level of Interest in Politics

It was also important to know whether this was the participants' had an interest in politics or not. Out of the 288 participants, 112 answered that they were strongly interested which represents about 39% of the population. 29%, that is, 84 of them said that they were interested. 25 respondents were neither interested nor uninterested. Taking into consideration those who gave a negative answer, the 20 participants stated that they had no interest in politics. Low level of political participation shows disenchantment, indifference or contentment. (Lijphart, 1996)

5.2.8 How important is vote to you?

Table 11: Importance of vote



very important




Neither important nor unimportant






Figure 5.2.8: Importance of vote

Later in the questionnaire the respondents were asked to state the importance to vote. Out of 288 participants, 142 which is 49% of the sample size, feels that voting is very important. 112 participants responded that voting is important which makes up 39% of the population. This shows that Mauritians have a positive feeling upon the importance of voting. However, 21 respondents have a neutral feeling while 13 participants, who symbolises 4% of the population, does not find voting important. Pasquino (1983), states that if citizens do not have a hand in election, democracy is exposed to weakening risks.

5.2.9 Why do you vote?

Table 12: Significance of voting





Right and Responsibility



My sacred duty



To get those I trust elected



Just following others






Figure 5.2.9 Significance of voting

From the above figure, you can denote that no one selected to vote at the cadres. But 29 respondents are just following others, which mean that voting has no significance to them. However, 132 electors, 46% of the population, are aware of their right and responsibility which the remaining 33% vote because of their civic duty towards Mauritius. Degan and Merlo (2004) affirms that when a citizen is well informed about his civic duty and the candidates, his participation is guaranteed.

5.2.10 Have you abstained at the 2010 General Election?

Table 13: Rate of voting abstention at the 2010 general election









Figure 5.2.10: Rate of voting abstention at the 2010 general election

The survey required to know whether the respondents had participated in the 2010 General Election. The above charts shows their participation level; 128 participants that is, 44% of the sample population abstained their vote while 160 participants voted. A high level of abstention can be noted. Amine (2012) avers that abstention is a real concern and a challenge for politicians.

5.2.11 Have you abstained from voting at any General Election?

Table 14: Rate of voting abstention at any general election









Figure 5.2.11: Rate of voting abstention at any general election

This question was set up to compare the level of voting abstention in the 2010 general election and at any other general election. Here we can see from the above charts that the participants though they did voted on the 2010 general election, they have previously abstained in any other election. 173 participants, who represent 60% of the sample size, have abstained in any other election and 115 participants voted. Degan and Merlo (2004) affirms that candidates should ensure the participation of citizens in election.

5.2.12 Indicate the reason(s) for abstaining at any General Election.

Table 15: Reasons for abstaining at the general election




inappropriate candidate


inability to vote (bad weather, family, profession, etc)


inadequate transport facilities


polling station too far from residence


dissatisfied with politicians


certainty that a party will win/ lose




Figure 5.2.12: Reasons for abstaining at the general election

The respondents when were asked to indicate the reasons for abstaining at the general election, out of 288 participants, 127 which represents 44% of the population did not vote due to circumstantial behaviour, that is, due to weather, death, marriage, family commitment and so forth, as stated by Gerald Mills (2003). 63 respondents, symbolising 23% of the sample size, were dissatisfied with the electors (Franklin, 1997) while 13% had the certainty that a particular party will win or lose. Moreover, 35 respondents amounting to 12% of the population shall abstain because of inappropriate candidate (Franklin, 1997). Furthermore, 7 respondents shall abstain because the polling station is far from their residence. Gerald Mills (1997) sates that turnout varies inversely with distance from the place of voting. The last 1 respondent representing 3% of the sample size shall abstain due the inadequacy of the transport facilities.

5.2.13 State a reason for voting at the General Elections

Table 16: Reason for voting at the general election



Civic duty


Expectation of favored candidate winning


High party's image/candidate's competence


Appropriate candidate


supporting a certain candidate


transport and other facilities provided by candidate




Figure 5.2.13 Reason for voting at the general election

The participants also had to state the reasons which motivate them to cast a vote. 179 participants, who represent 62% of the sample size, stated that they vote because it is there civic duty. This shows the interest that the candidates have for their country. 47 respondents, that is, 16% of the population admitted that they expect that their favored candidate win the election. 25 respondents divulged that they vote because of the facilities provided by the candidates while 6% of the sample accepted that they vote because the candidates are appropriate. 11 respondents admitted that they cast a vote support a certain candidate and 3% of the population vote according to the candidates competences. Degan and Merlo (2004) argues that "who votes and for who people vote determine the outcome of the elections".

5.2.14 Which factor(s) motivates you to vote for a particular candidate?

Table 17: Factor of motivation






competence of the candidate


personality of the candidate


speech delivery


previous mandate


transport and other facilities provided by candidate




Figure 5.2.14: Factor of motivation

The last question was set to identify the motivational factors of the respondents. 121 affirmed that they are motivated by the candidates' competences while 101 avowed that there choice is influenced by the candidates' previous mandates. 7% declared that they are motivated because transport and other facilities are provided by the candidate. 19 respondents stated that the speech delivered by the candidates motivates them to cast a vote. 5% of the population confirmed that the personality of the candidate is an influential key while the last 3% of the sample size are concerned about the religious issue, they vote according to their religion.

5.3 Hypothesis testing

The research hypothesis is a paring down of the problem into something testable. Below are the two hypotheses that have been formed to be tested.

5.3.1 Hypothesis 8:

H0: There is no association between gross monthly income and the importance of voting.

H1: There is an association between gross monthly income and the importance of voting.

Table 18: Hypothesis 8


income level

How important is vote to you?

income level

Pearson Correlation



Sig. (2-tailed)





How important is vote to you?

Pearson Correlation



Sig. (2-tailed)





**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

H0: p1 = p2 and H1: p1 ≠ p2. H0 will be rejected at 5% level of significance.

According to Table 19, even though the correlation is significant at 0.01 levels (2-tailed), the significance level shows a weak negative relationship between income level and the importance of voting. Thus, Ho is rejected. It can be said that the importance to vote is affected by the income level. As stated by Ioannis and Phil

(2005) and D.Gupta (2004), when people are rewarded with a higher income, they are not interested to cast a vote.

5.3.2 Hypothesis 9

H0: There is no association between age group and the voters having an interest in politics.

H1: There is an association between age group and the voters having an interest in politics.

Table 19: Hypothesis 9


age group

to what extent are you interest in politics?

age group

Pearson Correlation



Sig. (2-tailed)





to what extent are you interest in politics?

Pearson Correlation



Sig. (2-tailed)





*. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).

H0: p1 = p2 and H1: p1 ≠ p2. H0 will be rejected at 5% level of significance.

According to Table 20, even though the correlation is significant at 0.05 levels (2-tailed), the significance level shows that there is no or negligible negative relationship. As such, H0 is rejected. There is a relationship between age and interest of voting. Wolfinger & Rosenthale (1980) and Crewe et al (1980), state the fact that young one are less interested to vote which causes a low turnout when the registered electors may have increase in size.

5.4 Chapter Conclusion

This chapter has helped to describe the patterns of responses received. The information assembled was displayed visually so as to enable quick understanding. Thus views and comments have been displayed and developed to

Request Removal

If you are the real writer of this essay and no longer want to have the essay published on the our website then please click on the link below to send us request removal:

Request the removal of this essay
Get in Touch With us

Get in touch with our dedicated team to discuss about your requirements in detail. We are here to help you our best in any way. If you are unsure about what you exactly need, please complete the short enquiry form below and we will get back to you with quote as soon as possible.