Nepali Times Asian Paints
By The Way
Mixing things up



The ongoing constitutional debate has yielded positive results and the parties have further threshed out their differences. After having resolved the issues of constitutional court and citizenship, the leaders have left the hardest part for last.

On one side of the negotiations are the Maoists and Madhesi parties who want a clear departure from the parliamentary system, which they say has bred political instability and corruption in the past. The NC and UML are convinced that parliamentary system with all its flaws is still better than gambling with an untested system that may breed a dictator.

So, as the deadline for the statute drafting draws closer, the parties are nervous about backtracking from positions that may give the opposition an upper hand in the debate. But they also know the other side is not going to relent either, and both sides know the perils of a void. It is against this backdrop that a new consensus is being forged.

NC negotiators realise that the Maoists will not give up their demand for a directly-elected executive president, and have agreed to it in return for a prime minister with executive powers elected by the parliament. In a departure from the French model, this is the Finnish model. But whatever model we chose, it will only be as good (or as bad) as the players. Given our immature political milieu and protracted lawless transition, any dual power centre is going to lead to a power struggle between future executives.

This is not to say we go back to the old ways of letting parliament elect an executive whose entire tenure would then be spent under the burden of its grace. The loyalty of such an executive lies with selective power brokers inside and outside the parliament, and not with the people. While it is essential to ensure that the executive is an upright individual free from any personal obligations, it is equally important to avoid power deadlocks resulting from overlapping arrangements. No matter how powerful, a parliament-elected executive will have little moral ground to exercise authority over a directly-elected president.

In an effort to seek a 'win-win' arrangement, the parties must not settle for something that will make us all losers. If they are sincere about a consensus, one side will have to take a step back. An executive, be it a president or a prime minister must be directly elected to ensure accountability.

The other office could be a parliament-elected nominal head. In case the parties agree on a directly-elected prime minister, the president can be given certain emergency powers clearly stating the circumstances under which they can be exercised. Or if they agree on a directly-elected president, a prime minister elected by the parliament can be given a stronger legislative role as a leader of the house. To limit the power of future presidents, their tenure in office can be limited to a maximum of two terms. Also, a strong impeachment mechanism can be put in place as further safeguard.

The other knot to untie is over federalism. The leaders of indigenous groups including those in the CA have taken to the streets demanding ethnic federalism. From the early days of statute drafting, it was clear that state restructuring would be the most difficult problem to resolve. Federalism based on devolution and identity has been at the core of political movements in this country over the years.

All this is being decided hush-hush behind closed doors with the clock ticking. If the parties ignore Madhesi, Dalit and Janajati groups during the final negotiations on federalism, there will be street protests instead of celebrations on 28 May. The Madhesi front has already shown willingness to openly discuss alternative proposals based on identity and sustainability. The leaders must now engage indigenous pressure groups as well.

Until now the parties have been involved in a competition for brownie points. Engaging with one of their own and coming to terms with the demands of others will test their true negotiation skills.

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1. Nirmal
My defence for the parliamentary system against the presidential or hybrid system.

1)Governing for all by all against the fear of uncertainty
One of the precious asset of democracy is that various groups --in many cases ideologically opposed groups-- can have many points of convergence as well as divergence at the same time. If the discrepancies are not morally and politically insurmountable there could be a common political agenda to explore, for example(although in Nepal everything is possible) theoretically a political party which believes in resolving politic, economic, and social problems through peaceful ways of resolutions would find quasi impossible to work with a group who largely opt for violent methods. My point is that this valuable asset of democracy could be utilised in the parliamentary system. Thanks to the parliamentary system, a country like Nepal where hung parliament could exist for a long time could move forward and even the voices of small minorities could be heard. It is another thing If our "leaders" declare themselves the must inefficient ones. A leader knows how to get the best of all, even during adverse situations. The life, be it political or personal, does not welcome you with garlands through out your ways although I know that many of us are used to them (I think offering garlands to someone is to honour his/her success then the life style of many politicos gets closer to a model of nepali anticulture).

2) playing down the effects of populism
One of the  defect of democracy is that although it is a system prefered by the votes it has been unsuccessful to diminish the populism breed by many individuals. This is not only the case of Nepal, the democratic world in its entirey suffers from this. An executive elected directly by the people would be possessed by the temptation of governing the country on an individual basis or absolute majority garnered in the parliament. A country like Nepal, where the foreign influence(bad or good) does exist needs to pacify the interests of her neighbours and at the same time avoid the populism directed against them. This would be possible in a parliamentary system where the government is bound to respect the largeer interests of the country. A country in third world tends to search for a saviour to overcome from persistent agony of malgovernance and this is where the parliament where the representatives elected by the people could assure us that we've many leaders asking for the accountability.

3) the need to educate the leaders
In a country like ours where many of our representatives are insufficiently qualified for the posts, the parliamentary system could be the kind of university for further training period in order to develop the leadership. We've been witnessing the unprecedent illicit behaviours of our lawmakers since a long time. Some of them have been found selling diplomatic passports, some of them in contraband of natural resources, some of them asking for bribes and so on. A good parliamentary mechanism will be able teach them a good lesson with the help of judiciary.

4)To Guarantee checks and balances
The parliamentary system had never been a system designed, constructed and built rather it's been molded in the history and very slowly. If as a consequent of the past we're trying to establish a republican system and the election of executive power then we've not got anymore choice than the parliamentary system. A cabinet responsible before the parliament and depending on the choice of the popular verdict.Only the checks and balances would help us to institutionalise the republican agenda the separation of power.

5)Ensure smooth functioning of federalism
When we talk about federalism are we aware what the presidential system could mean when we put federalism into practise? Federalism=distribution of power, Presidential system= concentration of power. We cannot pretend to sail with two legs on two boats different in the opposite directions. We need the total distribution of power where the local entities could exercise the overwhelming power that since now has been enjoyed by the center as a result of unitary system. The federal system should be able to decide If the traditional architecture, which was developed in response to the climate, land conditions or culture of a locality could be the mode of governance in case they abide by the principles of democracy and equity. The federal units with unitary characteristic is doomed to fail and so the presidential system with federal units.

2. Binu

You can make your hundreds points in defense but it is already FAILED.

3. Nirmal
#2 Who failed? The system or the people who were at the helm of the system? And how come you assure that with the same incompetent brand the new system could work well. I'd like to hear some of your points with regard to the system you want to defend. Thank you in advance.

4. who cares


in theory, the best form of govt. is dictatorship.

#### but we cant go for dictatorship cause instead of going after good governance, development, nationalism.... , he/she could go after people, personal interest...

### and like i said earlier, we cant choose parliamentary system- parliament choosing executive head- cause too many cooks spoil the food..... and it is too easy to buy a few hundred mps since most of the evil govt, drug lords etc are too rich for us to tame...

and in last election, since there are two many mps elected by voters from different area, i voted for uml taking them as a democratic party, but later someone took over that party and misdefined my vote as vote for some commie shit, and vote to make nepal a commie state.... ...

all can blame me if the person i voted turned out to be some kind of @%@# head, but i do not want to take any responsibility for the executive head voted by some agents (mps), majority of agents- whom i did not vote for.

so the best form of govt. is executive head directly elected by people who can work freely following rule of law, who is checked, investigated, sued by different independent agencies- both elected like parliament as well as self-made, neutral, chosen by non executive like judiciary, human right agency, election commission, auditor general, anti corruption commission, a group comprising ex judge, general, igp, leader of lawyers, leader of professors etc whose job is to investigate politicians/ those who are above the law, protect nationalism, drag them into court etc.

so we need a dictator elected by people directly and who is tamed by independent bodies. 

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)