Political parties in Nepal have started campaigning for the upcoming legislative elections, promising to bring peace, development, economic prosperity, and job creation.
The least developed Himalayan country is holding elections for its parliament and provincial assembly simultaneously in two phases on November 26 and December 7. Those elections will fully operationalize the federal system cemented by Nepal’s new constitution in 2015, thus marking the concluding chapter of the constitution implementation process that began two years ago.
Local level elections have already been concluded as per the provisions in the new constitution. During that round of voting, the Communist Party Nepal–Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML), Nepali Congress, and Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Center) emerged as the first, second, and third party, respectively.Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.
The upcoming election will elect Nepal’s federal parliament, which will elect a prime minister, president, and vice president for the country. Provincial assemblies for each of Nepal’s seven provinces will also be elected, which will then choose the chief ministers of the provinces.
Nepal has a parallel voting system, which sees different candidates selected in two ways. Under the proportional representation category, in which voters select a party, as many as 6,094 candidates are contesting the federal and provincial elections to be held on November 26 and December 7, according to the Election Commission’s publicly released list of PR candidates.
Under first-past-the-post category, in which voters choose a candidate, for the first phase of elections on November 26, 320 candidates of various political parties have filed nominations to contest 37 seats in the federal parliament, and 482 candidates have filed nominations for 74 seats in the provincial assemblies in 32 hilly and mountain districts.
The second phase of elections, to be held on December 7, will see elections take place in another 45 districts. A total of 4,482 candidates are in the fray under the first-past-the-post system for 128 federal and 256 provincial seats, the Election Commission (EC) said on Sunday, as it made public the final list and distributed election symbols to the parties.
While the parties are trying to draw voters’ support through political maneuvers, such as forming a “left alliance” and a “democratic alliance,” voters are more concerned about development. Essentially, Nepal’s people want jobs, health facilities, safe drinking water, education, and road networks, regardless of what party wins in the elections.
In the last three decades, the country has witnessed chronic political instability, including a 10-year violent insurgency, which badly damaged Nepal’s development and economy. Today, high-level unemployment persists. According to government data, over 2 million Nepalis were working abroad in 2011, as they could not find employment at home. Young people in particular often go abroad either to study or to work, as they see no future in their country.
As the election date draws closer, there is widespread hope that Nepal will finally embark on a journey of peace and economic development. This is probably the first election in Nepal after the restoration of democracy in 1990 to be largely dominated by social, economic, and development issues instead of political issues.
This time, the parties are trying to attract voters through their development agendas. People are hopeful that after the elections, parties will sideline partisan politics and focus on development as there is no major political agenda for parties to deal with right now.
In particular, Nepalis expect that the seven provincial governments, which will be formed after the elections, will tackle the problems and issues of rural areas. In crafting Nepal’s constitution, the parties opted for federalism, believing that a unitary and centralized government is a major obstacle in the country’s development process.
In the parliamentary and provincial assembly elections, there will be fierce competition between the “left alliance” of CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) and the ruling Nepali Congress. In Province No. 2, which borders India, there will be a three-way competition among the NC, the left alliance, and Madhes-based parties, regional ethnic parties that have opposed the constitution since it was promulgated in 2015.
The common agenda of all the political parties is advancing economic prosperity and development. Nepal aims to be elevated from least developed country status to a developing country by 2022; the various parties have promised to achieve this goal. In their election manifestos, each party presented a plan for prosperity and development, including commitments to create jobs to tackle growing unemployment. Parties have also made promises to ensure social security and expand health and education facilities.
The Nepali Congress, the current ruling party, has promised to create half-a-million jobs within the next five years if a government is formed under its leadership. Meanwhile, the joint election manifesto of the left alliance, combining the CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center), focused on stability, good governance, and economic prosperity. The left alliance claims that under its government, per capita income will reach $5,000 within five years. The alliance also pledged to create a massive increase in jobs for young people.
A woman in the door of her home, decorated with the election symbol of the Maoist party, in the Bahajan district of Province No 7. Photo by Kamal Dev Bhattarai.
Nepal adopted a multi-party parliamentary system in 1990, but all the early parliaments were dissolved before they completed their five-year term, leading to political instability in the Himalayan nation. The parliamentary system adopted after 1990 also witnessed several malpractices, including horse-trading.
The last parliamentary election took place in 1999, but the parliament was dissolved in 2001 with the declaration of a state of emergency. For a long period, Nepal remained without any elected body, which sabotaged the governance system.
After the signing of a peace deal with the Maoists in 2006, the first Constituent Assembly (CA) election was held in 2008. A second CA was elected in 2013. The CA also served as a legislature during that time, but its main mandate was writing a new constitution for Nepal. In this sense, the upcoming parliamentary election is Nepal’s first in 17 years.
The first and second CAs included more than 30 parties, which was a main cause of government instability. However, the new constitution incorporated some provisions aimed at improving the drawbacks of parliamentary democracy. The number of parties represented in the parliament will thus decrease due to the new law. According to the Election Commission law, parties need to secure three percent of votes in the proportional representation (PR) category and one seat elected through first-past-the-post rules to sit in the federal parliament.
With the formation of new federal and provincial parliaments, there are expectations that Nepal will finally get a stable government that at least will last for at least five years, which will contribute to improving the country’s fragile economy. However, political analysts say that the current electoral system will never allow for such political stability. Over the last 30 years, not a single government has completed a five-year term. In fact, the average tenure of a government is one year.
Still, the upcoming elections have created optimism that Nepal is headed toward becoming a stable and prosperous country.
“What we want is houses, road networks, health and education facilities, and employment. We do not care about political ideologies,” Nanda Devi Bhual, 60, a Dalit woman from Baitadi District, in far-western Nepal, told The Diplomat.
“We will vote for those parties who help us, provide education for our children, and ensure education of our children,” she added. Due to a lack of employment, many younger members of her community are compelled to head to India to find jobs.
More than a dozen local citizens who spoke with The Diplomat in the far-western region, which is less developed than the rest of the country, said that roads, food security, health, safe drinking water, and education are their key priorities. There are several villages in western Nepal that are still untouched by roads and several rivers are without bridges.
Harka Bahadur Bohara, 61, of Syani Rural Municipality in Bajhang District bordering China, said that though parties have promised a lot in the past, they failed to deliver. “We have to walk three hours to get drinking water but there has not been any progress on building water projects,” he said. Bohara also said road connectivity is also a major concern for the district.
“In the past, mainly the Maoist party promised to address the issues faced by [our] marginalized community but they did nothing for us,” he added.
Kamal Dev Bhattarai is Kathmandu-based writer and journalist. He writes on geopolitical issues mainly focusing on South Asian region. He is closely following Nepal’s peace process, constitution drafting, and constitution implementation process.
This article needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.(February 2018)
The politics of Nepal function within a framework of a republic with a multi-party system. Currently, the position of President of Nepal (head of state) is occupied by Bidhya Devi Bhandari. The position of Prime Minister (head of government) is held by Khadga Prasad Oli. Executive power is exercised by the Prime Minister and his cabinet, while legislative power is vested in the Parliament.
Until May 28, 2008, Nepal was a constitutional monarchy. On that date, the constitution was altered by the Nepalese Constituent Assembly to make the country a republic.
The Economist Intelligence Unit has rated Nepal as "hybrid regime" in 2016.
2001: Royal massacre
Main article: Nepalese royal massacre
On June 1, 2001, prince Deependra was killed with his father, King Birendra; his mother, Queen Aishwarya; his brother; his sister, his father's younger brother, Prince Dhirendra; and several aunts, it is unknown that who killed..Although he never regained consciousness before dying, Crown Prince Dipendra was nonetheless the king under the law of Nepalese royal succession. After his death two days later, the late King's surviving brother Gyanendra was proclaimed king.
2002–2007: Suspension of parliament and Loktantra Andolan
Main article: 2006 democracy movement in Nepal
On 1 February 2002 King Gyanendra suspended the Parliament, appointed a government led by himself, and enforced martial law. The King argued that civil politicians were unfit to handle the Maoist insurgency. Telephone lines were cut and several high-profile political leaders were detained. Other opposition leaders fled to India and regrouped there. A broad coalition called the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) was formed in opposition to the royal takeover, encompassing the seven parliamentary parties who held about 90% of the seats in the old, dissolved parliament.
The UN-OHCHR, in response to events in Nepal, set up a monitoring program in 2005 to assess and observe the human rights situation there
On 22 November 2005, the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) of parliamentary parties and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) agreed on a historic and unprecedented 12-point memorandum of understanding (MOU) for peace and democracy. Nepalese from various walks of life and the international community regarded the MOU as an appropriate political response to the crisis that was developing in Nepal. Against the backdrop of the historical sufferings of the Nepalese people and the enormous human cost of the last ten years of violent conflict, the MOU, which proposes a peaceful transition through an elected constituent assembly, created an acceptable formula for a united movement for democracy. As per the 12-point MOU, the SPA called for a protest movement, and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) supported it. This led to a countrywide uprising called the Loktantra Andolan that started in April 2006. All political forces including civil society and professional organizations actively galvanized the people. This resulted in massive and spontaneous demonstrations and rallies held across Nepal against King Gyanendra's autocratic rule.
The people's participation was so broad, momentous and pervasive that the king feared being overthrown. On 21 April 2006, King Gyanendra declared that "power would be returned to the people". This had little effect on the people, who continued to occupy the streets of Kathmandu and other towns, openly defying the daytime curfew. Finally King Gyanendra announced the reinstatement the House of Representatives, thereby conceding one of the major demands of the SPA, at midnight on 24 April 2006. Following this action the coalition of political forces decided to call off the protests.
Twenty-one people died and thousands were injured during the 19 days of protests.
On 19 May 2006, the parliament assumed total legislative power and gave executive power to the Government of Nepal (previously known as His Majesty's Government). Names of many institutions (including the army) were stripped of the "royal" adjective and the Raj Parishad (a council of the King's advisers) was abolished, with his duties assigned to the Parliament itself. The activities of the King became subject to parliamentary scrutiny and the King's properties were subjected to taxation. Moreover, Nepal was declared a secular state abrogating the previous status of a Hindu Kingdom. However, most of the changes have, as yet, not been implemented. On 19 July 2006, the prime minister, G. P. Koirala, sent a letter to the United Nations announcing the intention of the Nepalese government to hold elections to a constituent assembly by April 2007.
December 2007 to May 2008: Abolition of the monarchy
On 23 December 2007, an agreement was made for the monarchy to be abolished and the country to become a federal republic with the Prime Minister becoming head of state. Defying political experts, who had predicted it to be trounced in the April 2008 elections, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) became the largest party amidst a general atmosphere of fear and intimidation from all sides. A federal republic was established in May 2008, with only four members of the 601-seat Constituent Assembly voting against the change, which ended 240 years of royal rule in Nepal. The government announced a public holiday for three days, (May 28 – May 30), to celebrate the country becoming a federal republic.
Major parties such as the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) (CPN UML) and the Nepali Congress agreed to write a constitution to replace the interim one within 2 years. However, uncooperative and "selfish" behavior of the political parties has been cited[by whom?] as the major cause behind the de-railing of the peace process.
The Maoists, as the largest party of the country, took power right after the elections and named Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda) as the Prime Minister of the country. CPN UML also joined this government, but the Nepali Congress took the part of the main opposition party. People soon saw that the country's situation deteriorated and political turmoils were in store. Prachanda soon fell into a dispute with the then army chief Rookmangud Katwal and decided to sack him. But the PresidentRam Baran Yadav, as the supreme head of military power in the country, revoked this decision and gave the army chief additional time in office. An angry Prachanda and his party quit the government, majorly citing this reason and decided to operate as the main opposition to the government headed by CPN UML and its co-partner Nepali Congress afterwards. Madhav Kumar Nepal was named the Prime Minister.
The Maoists have been to this date[when?] demanding civilian supremacy over the army.
The Maoists have been forcing closures – commonly known as bandhs – in the country, and have also declared autonomous states for almost all the ethnic groups in Nepal – seen[by whom?] as a part of revenge against the action that foiled their decision to sack the army chief.
Political leaders continue to discuss plans to end this turmoil, but none of the talks have been successful. Rising inflation, economic downturn, poverty, insecurity and uncertainty are the major problems. Many analysts[which?] opine that freedom has brought chaos to the country. Many[who?] doubt that the political parties will succeed in writing a constitution.
On May 2012 constitution assembly was dissolved and another election to select the constitution assembly members was declared by Dr. Baburam Bhattarai.
Madhes Movement (2007 - 2015/16)
Madhes Movement (Nepali: मधेस अान्दोलन) is a political movement launched by various political parties, especially those based in Madhes, for equal rights, dignity and identity of Madhesis and Tharus,Muslisms and Janjati groups in Nepal. In nearly a decade, Nepal witnessed three Madhes Movements - the first Madhes Movement erupted in 2007, the second Madhes Movement in 2008 and the third Madhes Movement in 2015. About the origin of the first Madhes Movement, Journalist Amarendra Yadav writes in The RIsing Nepal"When the then seven-party alliance of the mainstream political parties and the CPN-Maoist jointly announced the Interim Constitution in 2007, it totally ignored the concept of federalism, the most desired political agenda of Madhesis and other marginalised communities. A day after the promulgation of the interim statute, a group of Madhesi activists under the Upendra Yadav-led Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum-Nepal (then a socio-intellectual NGO) burnt copies of the interim constitution at Maitighar Mandala, Kathmandu." This triggered the Madhes movement I.
The second Madhes Movement took place in 2008, jointly launched by Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum-Nepal, Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party and Sadbhawana Party led by Rajendra Mahato with three key agenda: federalism, proportional representation and population-based election constituency, which were later ensured in the Interim Constitution of Nepal 2008.
However, The Constitution of Nepal 2015 backtracked from those issues, that were already ensured by the Interim Constitution of Nepal 2008. Supreme Court of Nepal Advocate Dipendra Jha writes in The Kathmandu Post: "many other aspects of the new constitution are more regressive than the Interim Constitution of Nepal 2007. Out of all its deficiencies, the most notable one concerns the issue proportional representation or inclusion in all organs of the state." This triggered the third Madhes Movement by Madhesis in Nepal. Although the first amendment to the constitution was done, the resistance over the document by Madhesi and Tharus in Nepal still continues
From 1991 to 2002 the Parliament (Sansad) had two chambers. The House of Representatives (Pratinidhi Sabha) had 205 members elected for five-year term in single-seat constituencies. The National Council (Rashtriya Sabha) had 60 members, 35 members elected by the Pratinidhi Sabha, 15 representatives of Regional Development Areas and 10 members appointed by the king. Parliament was subsequently dissolved by the king in 2002 on the pretext that it was incapable of handling the Maoists rebels.
From Loktantra Andolan to the Constituent Assembly
After the victory of Loktantra Andolan in the spring of 2006, a unicameral interim legislature replaced the previous parliament. The new body consists both of members of the old parliament as well as nominated members. As of December 2007, the legislature had the following composition.
The first elections after becoming a Republic: the Constituent Assembly
In May 2008 the elections for the Constituent Assembly saw the Communist Party of Nepal as the largest party in the Constituent Assembly, which will have a term of two years.
The judiciary is composed of the Supreme Court (Sarbochha Adalat), appellate courts, and various Trial court|district courts. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was appointed by the monarch on recommendation of the Constitutional Council; the other judges were appointed by the monarch on the recommendation of the Judicial Council.
Nepal's judiciary is legally separate from the executive and legislative branches and has increasingly shown the will to be independent of political influence. The judiciary has the right of judicial review under the constitution.
International organization participation of nepal
AsDB, CCC, Colombo Plan, ESCAP, FAO, Group of 77, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, International Development Association, IFAD, International Finance Corporation, IFRCS, International Labour Organization, International Monetary Fund, International Maritime Organization, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, International Organization for Standardization (correspondent), ITU, MONUC, Non-Aligned Movement, OPCW, SAARC, United Nations, UNCTAD, UNDP, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNMIBH, UNMIK, UNMOP, UNMOT, UNTAET, UPU, World Federation of Trade Unions, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO CPC Nepal (applicant)
Jonathan Devendra. 2013. Massacre at the Palace: The Doomed Royal Dynasty of Nepal. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 0-7868-6878-3.
- ^Nepal's monarchy abolished, republic declared AFP, 2008-05-28
- ^solutions, EIU digital. "Democracy Index 2016 - The Economist Intelligence Unit". www.eiu.com. Retrieved 2017-12-01.
- ^Nepal Summary, OHCHR.
- ^Gurubacharya, Binaj (2007-12-24). "Nepal to Abolish Monarchy". Time. Retrieved 2007-12-26.
- ^"The Maoists triumph". The Economist. 17 April 2008.
- ^Nepal votes to abolish monarchy BBC News, 2008-05-28
- ^"Madhes movement - The Himalayan Times". The Himalayan Times. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
- ^"Madhesh Movement: Then n now (Part I of III) – OnlineKhabar". english.onlinekhabar.com. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
- ^"Madhesh Movement: Then n now (Part II of III) – OnlineKhabar". english.onlinekhabar.com. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
- ^"Three years later - Nepali Times". nepalitimes.com. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
- ^"Three years later - Nepali Times". nepalitimes.com. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
- ^"The Rising Nepal: Ten Years On, Madhes Still In Unrest". therisingnepal.org.np. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
- ^"Talk to the Tarai". Retrieved 2017-10-21.
- ^"Who are the Madhesis, why are they angry?". The Indian Express. 2015-10-05. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
- ^Sharma, Bhadra; Najar, Nida (2015-09-28). "Nepal Rations Fuel as Political Crisis With India Worsens". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
- ^"The Secret to Resolving Madhes Andolan III Demands - Madhesi Youth". Madhesi Youth. 2015-11-24. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
- ^Yadav, Anumeha. "Interview: 'For Madhesis, the first amendments to Nepal's new Constitution are a disappointment'". Scroll.in. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
- ^"THRD Alliance Resistance Continues as Nepal Observes the 2nd Anniversary of Constitution Promulgation - THRD Alliance". thrda.org. Retrieved 2017-10-21.
- ^"Interim parliament endorses Interim Constitution-2063". NepalNews.com. 2007-01-15. Retrieved 2007-12-26.