2015 Presidential Elections special. 2. What lies ahead?

Viral Dhanjee

OPINION:

There may be honour amongst thieves, but is there honour amongst politicians?
James out. Michel in. – won by the system, not at the polling booths?
What lies ahead:
ROS. --- POU ANVOYE, PA POU ANVOYE?
James Michel warned earlier this year, ‘’People in glass houses do not throw stones’’. This was meant solely for the break-away cluster of ex- SPPF/PL ministers and technicians who surfaced as the new political party, ‘Lalyans Seselwa’. There were massive expectations from the public that we were in for a spectacular fireworks show, in that for once we would know the inner (maybe even dirty) secrets of the SPUP/SPPF/PL era. Thus far, people have been disappointed. Campaigning has started earnestly, elections will come and go, but no stones will be thrown. Those concerned would be good boys and pay heed to Michel’s warning.
But what are these stones that Michel cautions against throwing? Skeletons no doubt, which if known to the larger public would raise questions never seen before in the light of day to cast people in bad light, thereby influencing the psyche of their core support . But all politicians have skeletons, and as an understood rule, they do not put each other’s skeletons in view, even if the difference is ( as we have just found out) between winning and losing an election. Michel’s fear that Ton Pat and his gang of ex-SPPF/PL leaders were about to spill the beans was totally unfounded.
But on the eve of the Presidential Elections the beans that SPPF/Pl would have not wanted spilt are probably those that would have to do with the mechanism at the disposal of SPPF/PL that always helps them win elections. Everyone, even the observers (and therefore the world) believes the elections are peaceful and free, BUT NEVER FAIR..
A statistically-impossible electoral list which has nearly as many registered voters as there are Seychellois is the sorest point of the election; or should I say was, as it no more appears in any political party’s agenda. All speeches during the various party conventions conveniently omit this issue. Always advanced as a reason for losing elections by those that do, this old record is set to be played again -- after the 5th. December, 2015
Is it back to business as usual? Or is it an element of a strategy not to be shared with the citizenry? Only time will tell, but the question won’t go away. One wonders, knowing each and every person in Ton Pat's top echelon team ex-SPPF/PL would have been instrumental in dealing blow-after-blow to opposition parties in every election, why they now come out and subject themselves to the humiliation of playing on such an unlevel playing field. On the other hand Wavel and his SNP, eye the seats in the National Assembly and are in a particular hurry to reclaim them. This much he stated very clearly, which led the last ‘poul’ leaving his ‘kazo poul’ in rather a hurry earlier this year. The
unleveled playing field does not prevent him from meeting that goal and suddenly has no problem with the unleveled playing field.
This issue haunts the entire opposition electorate. This time around, by reminding the politicians of their previous excuse long before the elections (and the fact they have done nothing to remedy the situation, other than to glorify a new electoral law that is a lot worse than the previous one) the electorate is telling the politicians to come up with a different set of excuses for not winning ... next time. People also remember that opposition party leaders have previously said their main objective is to achieve change in government, regardless of who led the change; that they should and would unite. Opposition voters believe this would have won the election for them, regardless of the implausible voter register. Yet when push came to shove, the opposition parties could not form the alliance in spite of one of them having 'Lalyans' as its name.
Whilst no stones are being thrown, the usual intimidation and scare tactics of the ruling party seem to be in full swing. It is believed that the ruling party was behind the vicious attempts of humiliation and intimidation on the person of Ton Pat, and to a lesser extent against Mrs Amesbury as well.
It would appear this is because much of Ton Pat.’s (a veteran SPUP/SPPF/PL leader, minister and Central Committee member) support appears to be coming from the PL party, which appears to be seriously haemorrhaging.
As the fortress wall built by Ex-President FAR, on which Michel sits, crumbles, Michel will surely regret not having built his own walls.
That the PL would want Lalyans Seselwa out of the picture is understandable, for if it were so they, PL, would have much more confidence and a better chance of winning.
But WHY Mrs. Amesbury? Is because folks who will vote for Mrs. Amesbury in the first round would have traditionally voted SNP (in the absence of any other options). It makes sense to believe that , for this reason, PL would rather Mrs Amesbury were not around, allowing her votes to go to SNP as in previous elections. Opposition votes that do not go to SNP acts as a nucleus for the emergence of a STRONG SECOND OPPOSITION POLITICAL PARTY.
Other presidential hopefuls seem to have been spared the wrath of PL.
These intimidation and fear tactics could well be part of a well-thought-out plan to unbalance and distract the presidential hopeful from the job of campaigning.
Most interesting is the likelihood that the elections will, for the first time in the history of presidential Elections in the Third republic, go into a SECOND ROUND. Even the SPPF/PL appear to think so and they expect to make it to the second round. A second round would be a great plus for democracy in the Seychelles and forever change the way people in the Seychelles vote.
It is expected that in the coming days much effort on the part of PL will be geared towards one thing and one thing only ; influencing who the opponent that they, PL, face in the second round. They have a clear preference.
The most direct evidence that SPPF/PL expects the election to go into the second round is their decision to field PDM. Whilst, like in the last National Assembly Elections (2011), the participation of
PDM gave credibility (at least in the eyes of the international community) to the election, so too this time it will serve this purpose --should all other political parties decide to boycott the election at the last minute – and there are sufficient justifiable reasons for doing so. Boycott is a very important and powerful tool but only has importance, and can only be meaningful, if everyone is on board; a fact that escaped SNP in the last elections with disastrous consequences for itself and, more importantly, for the opposition. Hopefully, no party decides to boycott this very important election. It served no purpose then and will not now.
Fielding of PDM would have other objectives. PDM clearly targets the four odd thousand votes it got last time. But the big question is, ’If PDM does not participate, who would its four odd thousand supporters vote for?’ Most unlikely to ever vote either SPPF/PL or SNP in the first round of the elections, they would naturally drift towards other candidates giving these candidates a higher chance of making it to the second round whilst reducing the chances of SNP making it-- something PL clearly do not want.
Besides, the votes obtained by PDM in the first round automatically become a pool of voters that certainly would be targeted for the second round. In a scenario playing out between SPPF/Pl against SNP, it would have logic historical sense if this pool of PDM votes chose not to vote for SNP. One must wonder if people actually vote for change, if they ever vote for what is best for the country? Showing that, in spite of all the empowerment and being emboldened, the electorate is still very much divided along party lines.
The third indication that the SPPF/PL expects the election to go to a second round is the New Elections dates declared by Gappy, the Electoral Commissioner, barely 24 hrs after fighting off a court petition to extend the same. Gappy is a brilliant SPPF/PL technician who has singlehandedly won the last three elections for SPPF/PL. Mr. Gappy is a nice, loving man, but believe you me, he was not appointed chief of the EC for being such a darling.
The opposition rejoices the new election dates as a victory of theirs, allowing them time to produce some memorabilia, as if this is what it takes to win elections. Would Gappy have gifted them that much? It is believed that new dates are crucial for PL, or at the very least appear to be throwing a bone to the opposition.
The campaign of personal attacks on candidates seems to have backfired, and it is unlikely there will be much of it in the days before the elections. It may have had an effect on the SPPF/PL supporters, as well, who would like to see their party win, but through a clean and fair election. Clearly attempts, both overt and covert, will be used to influence who reaches the second round. Why wait for election day if you can buy, or beat the hell out of your opponent before then; anything that might be better than having to do another coup d’eat. Serious money will be on offer to candidates to stand down, but it will have to be big money, bigger than what the sponsors are offering and bigger than what they stand to gain if elected.
It is believed if Ton Pat makes it to the second round against Michel, he will be assured all the votes other opposition candidates received in the first round. Wavel and his SNP do not have this luxury if they stood against Michel in the second round, as it is believed the the Lalyans supporters would never vote SNP, would not vote for change. It is a numbers game.
It very much matters to PL which party contests the second round against it. It makes perfect sense PL would want to face a tested opponent; one who has never been able to deliver for supporters and the people of Seychelles. In that sense, Wavel and his SNP have always been the darling of FAR/JAM and SPPF/PL. It is not that Wavel loves the guy -- probably far from it -- but JAM really loves Wavel to bits, because in Wavel he sees a ‘bef’ (a cow) he can milk anywhere, anytime, any day. In fact this is what led JAM to declare what he did to the Mauritian ‘Weekend’ early this year. It is a numbers game and Wavel just cannot produce the numbers to deliver.
Presidential hopefuls are now in the process of declaring their running mate. Will these create any ripples? Will a running mate actually contribute meaningfully toward the victory of a presidential hopeful, or are they simply piggy-backing?
Only two days before nomination day, and on one hand many people remain hopeful to see an SNP/Lalyans partnership, whilst on the other many want to see SPPF/PL field another team other than Michel/Faure. If indeed PL is haemorrhaging because of the unpopularity of Michel, then a new team might reverse that and render Lalyans irrelevant, as its main problem seems to be with Michel and not SPPF/PL.
Besides, many in the SPPF/PL camp seem to have a problem with VP Danny Faure as the running mate of JAM as they suspect that JAM will ‘’pass baton’’ and hand the presidency over to VP Danny Faure during his tenure. They do not need to be reminded that a vote for JAM is in fact a vote for Danny Faure. This is totally unfair as none would have any justification for such a sentiment. Danny Faure remains a brilliant strategist, intelligent and very capable person.
In the absence of public debates between the presidential hopefuls and their running mates, the electorate is once more totally lost as to what the various candidates stand for on various issues of national importance. The electorate will be voting, regardless of being denied the necessary information needed for informed decision-making and a total absence of public dialogue between the electorate and the candidates. In this day and age, this is totally unacceptable. Political debates must become a norm.
The arrival back home of our three compatriots from the Egyptian prison is anticipated anytime soon.
8th. November, 2015
Viral V. Dhanjee, Union Vale.

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