Sudheer Sharma: The parliamentary system after the 1990 movement was the main reason for political instability in the country. A directly-elected executive head of state, whether a president or prime minister, will provide much needed stability and kick start the stalled development process. There is no guarantee that the new system will succeed, but given the ineffectiveness of the past system, it makes sense for us to adopt one where an elected government can at least complete its full tenure.
Narayan Wagle: Before calling the parliamentary system in Nepal a failure, we should remember that it was never allowed to function properly in the first place. People argue that the parliamentary system has bred corruption, but there are legal provisions within it to punish the guilty. On the one hand, leaders talk about decentralising governance and making it more inclusive, and on the other they advocate for a centralised system with a directly elected executive head.
SS: Although corruption is a serious concern, the inherently destabalising nature of the parliamentary systems is its greatest drawback. Before the royal takeover in 2005, we had 10 governments in 12 years, and given our deep-rooted coalition culture, the trend is likely continue unless we have a better system. And there is no reason why decentralisation of power at the local level cannot take place alongside effective governance at the centre. Regardless of whether the executive is directly elected or elected through parliament, its functions must be well-defined and it should be able to carry out its responsibilities without the political bickering that we see today.
NW: At a time when the general consensus seems to favor a federal system with a mixed electorate, it is wrong to assume that supporters of a Westminster system want to maintain the status quo. Besides, if we adopt a parliamentary system it will certainly be different than the previous one, because fundamental changes will be introduced. If we look at the experience of other countries, many of them have prospered irrespective of their form of governance.
SS: Once we finish writing the constitution, we will have a new state structure in place and to ensure that changes are institutionalised, we need an effective enforcement mechanism. However, we also need sufficient checks and balances to avoid the concentration of power in one office.
SS: The culture of politics in a parliamentary system is preoccupied with numbers and anybody can manipulate this system to gain an indirect majority in the parliament.
NW: Parliament is a place for numbers, and those who can convince the representatives with their arguments will have majority support. I see nothing wrong with that. At least such an executive is accountable to a parliament, unlike a directly-elected executive who is only accountable to people on the streets.
SS: It is wrong to assume that a directly-elected executive will necessarily lead to an authoritarian regime. There is a vibrant opposition in the legislature and an impeachment provision to ensure accountability. It's only a question of how that executive is elected.