In Defense: Elite Power

  • Tijo Salverda


March 12, 1968, marked the collapse of almost two centuries of Franco-Mauritian hegemony. That day the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius gained its independence from the UK, which was the continuation of a process toward a multiethnic democracy that had begun in the preceding decades. This was of disadvantageous to the white colonial elite, the Franco-Mauritians, as the overlap between their elite position and ethnic background was associated with colonial domination. Franco-Mauritians had strongly opposed independence as they feared that their position might be compromised, especially since they only numbered about 1 percent of the population vis-à-vis much larger sections of Hindus (52 percent), Creoles (28 percent), Muslims (16 percent), and Sino-Mauritians (3 percent). Remarkably, however, more than 40 years later, the Franco-Mauritians, who currently number about 10,000 out of a population of 1.3 million, can still be considered an elite—albeit that they no longer constitute a hegemon. In comparison, white elites in other postcolonial states, such as a number of Caribbean islands, also retained postcolonial positions of power. The relative success of securing their elite position is, in my opinion, not sufficiently explained by existing theories on (elite) power.


Prime Minister Sugar Industry Electoral Campaign Caribbean Island Sugar Estate 
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© Jon Abbink and Tijo Salverda 2013

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