Mauritius’ leader Pravind Kumar Jugnauth is banking on accomplishments including a minimum wage law to win a general election on Thursday but could face a tough challenge from opponents promising to end graft and higher retirement benefits.
The Indian Ocean Island nation, which prides itself on a history of political stability, relies on tourism and financial services for revenue.
Jugnauth, prime minister since 2017 after taking over from his father, hopes voters will give his government another mandate, given its achievements including a light rail system in the capital and introduction of a minimum wage law.
Mauritius holds elections every five years. Jugnauth took charge after his father, Sir Anerood Jugnauth, resigned.
At a last campaign rally he appealed to voters to give him “a comfortable majority” to secure outright victory for his party, the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM).
“Since I became prime minister in 2017, I have done everything to improve the life of all citizens no matter what their ethnic group,” he said, pointing to a minimum wage law introduced last year and a $525 million light rail system launched in October.
Sixty parliamentary seats will be up for grabs in the polls.
The MSM will fend off a challenge from the Labour party, led by Navinchandra Ramgoolam.
Ramgoolam (72) is a former prime minister and promised to increase retirement benefits by a higher percentage than that proposed by the incumbent, a promise he hopes will help him win over elderly voters numbering about 220 000.
The third contender, the Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM), headed by Paul Bérenger (74) promised to curb corruption in the public sector.
At a rally in the capital Bérenger told supporters he was sure of victory and expected to win sufficient seats to form a government without a partner.
“We will win the elections with a clear majority and the MMM is ready to run the country alone,” he said.
If no party emerges with a clear majority, rules set out the one with the highest number of seats forms a coalition with a smaller partner.
A new government will need to initiate policies to jumpstart growth and raise economic prospects for the country’s 1.3 million people.
According to the statistics office, gross domestic product is seen expanding at 3.8% this year, unchanged from 2018.