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Brunel awards politics doctorate to Deputy Prime Minister of Mauritius

Dr Rama Sithanen completed his thesis in five years as a part-time student while being an active politician in the Commonwealth republic. More than half of his period of study has taken place while being Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economic Development, following the country's last general election in 2005.

The examining of his thesis, “Evaluating and proposing Electoral Systems for Plural Societies,“ at Brunel University, was held recently at a convenient time to enable him to fly back to the Indian Ocean island to write the Budget.

“My objective in writing this PhD thesis was to contribute to finding a solution for the defects of the current electoral system of Mauritius,“ explained Dr Sithanen.

Mauritius has a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural population, comprising of Hindu, Muslim, Chinese, Creole, European and other communities.

“I developed an active interest for electoral systems in plural societies where citizens are divided along characteristics such as race, ethnicity, language and religion, and how they choose their electoral systems to address the classic concerns of governability, representation, accountability and inclusion,“ he continued.

“I was surprised by the huge disproportion between the number of votes polled and seats obtained in many elections held in Mauritius under the system of “first past the post,“ as it exists in Britain for elections to the House of Commons. I was also struck by the very low female representation in Parliament,“ added Dr Sithanen.

“I reached the conclusion that a mixed electoral system appears to offer an efficient response to address the problems posed by the “first past the post“ voting formula in Mauritius without creating other worse headaches.“

His supervisor, Professor Justin Fisher, commented: “Dr Sithanen's thesis is an excellent example of how the academic study of politics can inform live public policy debates and visa versa.

“The thesis is an excellent piece of work, which will enhance both debates about electoral systems in plural societies and the academic study of elections in general.“

Dr Sithanen admitted that it was challenging to conduct his research with his full-time political duties: “It was a very tough to combine this academic work with the occupational pressure of being Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Economic Development of my country while also being an active constituency Member of Parliament,“ he said.

“It required discipline, hard work, very long working hours and good time management.

“And, also finding the required time while on mission overseas to stop over in London to meet my supervisor who was of immense help and to consult documents at the library.

“I am very happy that I have been able to complete it.“