For the past year, local and expat naysayers in Kathmandu insisted that there was no way elections could be held. Even till last week, these nabobs of negativism were predicting the end of Nepal if elections went ahead.
Even if they are proved wrong, doomsdayers don't change into optimists overnight. And now that elections have been held, they are predicting chaos, anarchy, disintegration and hellfire in the coming months. There is a danger that their cynicism will be a self-fulfilling prophecy, and it is now up to the elected representatives to prove them wrong.
What gives us hope has been the ability of widely opposed parties to come this far in the past two years. Given the fractiousness, narrow mindedness and political myopia of our leaders, this is something of a miracle. We expected a threshold of violence because one of the protagonists was till two years ago an underground guerrilla force.
No more do our date-expired politicians now have to invoke the mandate of street protests. From now on their legitimacy comes from the people's mandate. The Nepali people voted with enthusiasm and hope on Thursday, and their wish must be respected. That is what democracy is all about, and that is what we all fought to restore.
But this democracy is fragile and the road ahead is a political minefield. The 601-member assembly will have to deal with sensitive issues like the abolition of monarchy, federalism, tackling the competing demands for ethnic representation that were put on hold for the polls, the future of Maoist combatants.
Nepal's status quoists will not give up without a struggle and reformers will need unity and a sense of destiny. But over and beyond all the political issues that have to be resolved, the assembly has to catch up with lost time on the economy and development. The people have been waiting patiently for the politics to sort itself out and haven't clamoured too noisily for the peace dividend.
Let the new representatives not mistake that for docility. Most people don't care about the arcane debates on monarchy vs republic, they care about jobs, roads, health posts and schools. And if they don't see their lives improve even after these elections, their disappointment can easily turn to anger.
Ultimately, legitimacy doesn't just come from the ballot. It comes from performance and delivery.