Mauritius voters rejected plans to grant more powers to the president by handing an unassailable lead in a parliamentary election to a coalition that rejected changing the constitution, according to television reports on Thursday.
The coalition of the Militant Socialist Movement (MSM) and the Parti Mauricien Social Democrate (PMSD) had secured 44 of the 62 contested seats by 2.50 p.m. (1750 GMT), while the ruling Labour Party and its ally which backed the change had just 13.
Labour, led by Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam, and its ally the Mauritian Militant Movement (MMM) called for power to be divided between the president, now a largely ceremonial role, and the premier, who currently holds sway.
The MSM-PMSD argued that those constitutional changes could unsettle the Indian Ocean island nation, which has been one of Africa's most stable democracies since gaining independence from Britain in 1968.
The electoral commission is expected to announce the final official result later on Thursday. In addition to 62 contested seats, the commission will allocate eight more to ensure adequate representation. In Wednesday's vote, 74 percent of the eligible 936,975 voters cast ballots.
Labour's coalition said the constitutional change, requiring a three-quarters majority in parliament, would make the nation of 1.3 million people more democratic because power will not be concentrated in one person.
Mauritius has a growing financial center and also relies on its tourism, textiles and sugar industries.