16-22 December 2016 #837

Populism and polls

The Big Three parties are closer to a consensus to hold local elections
Om Astha Rai

When UML MPs reached Parliament on Thursday to obstruct proceedings as they have for the past two weeks, they found out the House had already been adjourned until next week. A notice pasted at the entrance (right) read that it was because of ‘Special Reasons’.

No prize for guessing what these special reasons are. It has now become a standard practice to postpone Parliament whenever there is no consensus on a debate.

But there are signs the deadlock is finally ending. The Big Three parties are closer to a consensus to hold local elections. NC President Sher Bahadur Deuba on Thursday said: “We have a deal, and no one can stop us from holding all three elections in the next 14 months.”

But the UML is still wary of the election bill the government tabled in Parliament on Wednesday. UML secretary Pradip Gyawali told Nepali Times that Deuba misled the opposition by first saying polls would be based on existing constituencies. “Now he says elections will follow new structures,” he stated.

The extended deadline to propose new municipal and village councils in place of existing municipalities and VDCs expired on Thursday, but the Local Level Restructuring Commission is still struggling to rearrange local bodies in Province 2 due to obstruction by Madhesi parties.

Sadbhavana Party leader Rajendra Mahato has warned that local elections in the Tarai will not be held as long as the constitution is not amended. “Old or new local structures, elections cannot take place without amending the constitution,” he told journalists.

The UML says elections should be the government’s priority rather than the amendment. “The minority should stop ruling the majority,” Gyawali said. “Otherwise the deadlock will continue.”

However, political scientist Krishna Pokharel warns that the Big Three should not repeat the mistake they made while promulgating the constitution: “Madhesi parties have hardened their stance after being left out, and if that happens again, they will obstruct elections just like how they are obstructing local body restructuring in the Tarai.”

Read also

Heads we lose, tails we lose, Editorial

2nd Amendment registered

“No polls in the Tarai”

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