Nepal Elections 2013
Five Things that Went Wrong
13 Dec, 2013 · 4217
Sisir Devkota on the political problems faced in the course of elections
Sisir DevkotaResearch Intern
The CA-II election in Nepal was held successfully, gathering many accolades within the country and among the international community as well. The Election Commission of Nepal and civil society, with the exception of losing parties like Maoists, hailed the free and fair conduct of polls. However, a critical analysis of the recently held elections will also provide if not many then at least five things that went wrong. Among the successes of the second round of the CA polls, there are equally potent political problems that Nepal could face in the near future.
The first thing that went wrong was before the election even took place. The boycotting of the election by Mohan Baidya-led 33 party alliance signalled that the elections would not comprise of all the major political parties. Now, when the elections have already taken place and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoists (UCPN-M) has comprehensively lost the seats in the parliament, the defiance of the 33 party alliance marks the epicentre of the foremost thing that went wrong. Had the 33 party alliance led by Baidya participated in the election, UCPN-M would not have been able to attempt political bargaining to disrupt the constitution process by alleging unfair voting process in several districts. If the constitution is not formed within the given time frame and if the UCPN-M plays an obstructing role, it will solely be the fault of the administration for not being able to persuade the 33 party alliance to contest the election.
Second is the below par election performance of the UCPN-M. The party which had undertaken the agenda of the ‘people’s war’ lost. While it might be that the people’s verdict changed and that they no longer had any confidence in the party, it also meant that the party failed to fulfil their cause of the people’s war where thousands of Nepali people sacrificed their lives. Though a sceptic might argue that the voter turnout was nearly 80 percent this year, it is also a fact that there were five million less registered voters than the 2008 CA elections. The enthusiasm among the citizens of Nepal might have been visibly higher in the voting but the less number of voters also signified their lack of confidence in the concept of voting for a second time and giving the same leaders another chance. This means there are sections of people who are still dissatisfied, and those who have sympathy for Baidya’s cry have arguable chances of fuelling another rebellion.
Though the Nepali Congress (NC) and Communist Party of Nepal Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) gained more votes than their counterpart, UCPN-M, none of them achieved a clear majority. This signifies another problematic political course for Nepal in the coming future. This could also mean that Nepal will go through frequent leadership changes as in the pas,t with frequent shuffling of Prime Ministers. Among other deeply rooted political deadlocks, only if one of the parties had achieved an outstanding majority, there would have been less chances of diffusive leadership.
The fourth thing that went wrong was that the people of Nepal were divided on the future of their nation, as NC and CPN-UML who has different constitutional agendas, received nearly equal amount of votes. This is also the case with NC and CPN-UML. This suggests that questions of federalism will resurface and bother the political process again. Nepalis, after having experienced similar setbacks before, repeated their confused verdict which might have been because of their assertiveness to not let the hardliners win the election. People might have voted for the top two parties to defeat the UCPN-M and not because they believed in their political action.
Lastly, there was a historic participation of women as candidates in the election but very few of them were elected. The number is even lower when compared to the previous CA election. There were more parties contesting, nearly 122, which is a double of the previous round of elections. Very few of them won even a single seat. This shows the unmatched enthusiasm of the people for an acceptable political outcome. The electoral loss of major political leaders in the election also showed the fragmenting support of the citizens. While such competition might be healthy in a democracy it will certainly lead to disputes in leadership as well.
Political parties will have to be wary to not repeat their previous mistakes and continuously assess past failures to let the constitution-making process proceed smoothly.
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