Nepali Times
Choosing election


BIGGIES: Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, UCPN-M Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal, the UML's Jhalnath Khanal and the NC's Sushil Koirala announcing the selection of elections over CA revival on Wednesday evening.
The four main political forces finally decided on Wednesday that the proposal to revive the Constituent Assembly was dead in the water, and the least problematic option now would be to announce elections for spring. Although this has untangled one political knot, many others remain.

The party leaders are used to agreeing to things in a 'package deal', and that is going to be the first order of business: forging a consensus on the composition of an interim government that will oversee elections. Past experience shows that those negotiations can drag on for months. If a deal is not struck by Dasain, the Baburam Bhattarai government could stay till mid-November and even beyond.

There seems to be an agreement that elections will be for a smaller parliament this time that will also initially double up as a CA. The polls could also be combined with local elections to save money, and to kickstart development and improve accountability at the grassroots.

There are differing opinions on the legal complications about announcing fresh elections, mainly because the interim constitution doesn't have provisions for another poll. But experts say the President could step in to remove obstacles following the doctrine of necessity, even though the stipulated ratification by a parliament within 30 days will not be possible.

Elections will also have administrative challenges: the Election Commission and other constitutional bodies are headless. Voting ID distribution hasn't been completed, and there will be 2 million more voters above 18 since the last election in 2008.

But by far the greatest danger is that it will be an ethnic election in which campaigning will focus on identity. Negotiations on the draft constitution were stalled earlier this year precisely on the point of the character, shape, and number of federal provinces. In the Madhes, for example, the election could be a de facto referendum on ethnic-based federalism. Given the temptation and willingness of various political leaders to whip up identity politics, the campaign period as well as election day itself could see violence. Janajati and some Madhesi activists are already threatening an agitation to protest the decision not to revive the CA.

It goes without saying that the Election Commission should be independent and have the necessary clout to punish those flouting campaign guidelines. It should also be vigilant about preventing irregularities, voter intimidation, and booth capturing seen in 2008. The parties may also revert back to their old habit of wasting time and postponing elections to buy time, and the EC should be empowered to crack the whip.

Despite all the potential pitfalls, Nepal needs an election to get moving again. A fresh mandate could lift the logjam, but only if a smooth all-party understanding can ensure voting that is free, fair, and peaceful.

Read also:
Zero sum game, ANURAG ACHARYA
The recourse to new elections is the result of mutual distrust among the parties, rather than the need to seek a new mandate.

1. Naryan Stan
The risk of an ethnic election?  Kunda, take a look at the photo above. All of your "Biggies" are the same Brahmin men, 6% of Nepali society, who have ruled the nation primarily for their own benefit for decades.  The Nepal Times' fear of an 'ethnic election' is equally an opportunity to ensure greater inclusion and diversity in Nepali politics for the benefit of those communities that have rarely been given a real chance to guide the country by these less than 'democratic' parties.  

2. who cares
yes to election, 

should include local election, referendum, new election govt. ...

actually, neutral non political govt. is better cause, let's say if there is NC lead govt. and during the election what would NC pm do when maoist thrash someone.... in the name consensus govt. they are likely to resolve the crime through dialogue which wont work.

but if there is non political govt. army or apf would/could prevent or punish such acts.

and i agree, election commission should be given all the needed power to hold election. like they should have power to punish the offenders, dates of all elections should be fixed just like in US and the officials should be chosen by non political actors. 

3. K. K. Sharma

1. Why should it be in the interest of the Maoist/Madhesi government to conduct elections, as soon as possible. Postponement of elections ensures the longevity of this government.

2 Ethnic issue is now here to stay. It is not the question of necessity, but a compulsion.... politically speaking.

3. There are many things, legal and political, that are needed to  facilitate elections. How much time is required for such hurdles to be removed.? Yet another four or five years, if not more.?

4. Howling or braying for election is all well. But then, what after that, ..... which party or coalition of parties are likely to emerge with pulrality of votes. .... if not the present Maoist/Madhesi allience.? If the present alliance in the government is to get the plurality of votes, then what is the use of having elections, ... but to legitimize the present government.

5. Will the election bring about new capable leaders, or will the same old incompetent and corrupt faces reemerge, to get electoral legitimacy ?... if so what is the big deal about having election. ?... Legitmizing the corrupt and the incompetents. ?

4. who cares
3. K. K. Sharma

if people elect incompetent, agent then we can blame people for the time period- the period between two timely elections.

if there is no timely election then only those who are creating hurdle to prevent election and the incompetents who can not hold election in time should be held responsible.


5. Nirmal
 As someone rightly stated -although being pessimistic- that new elections would not change the already installed opinion of the large majority who is too much fed up of being fed up. There is not even a minimal guarantee that after new elections the country would experience some positive change regarding the current impasse. However, for the sake of democracy the electorate who till the date has been treated as torilaures should be given an opportunity to see all competing parties with their sincerity. No matter If it is RPP Nepal with the slogan to return of the monarchy, the Maoists with their armed-revolution, the Madhesi parties with separate one-madhes-one-pradesh-status,  the ethnic entities with their demand to federal states based on ethnicity or the NC and the UML advocating parliamentary democracy with the same top guns who control their party apparatus. What counts before people in democracy is to know what the political parties and their candidates are for and now more than ever it is necessary to hold a plebicite on all differing ideologies found in Nepal . That kind of sincerity which could be able to generate credibility for their respective stances which translated into votes could facilitate those political parties to choose their future course without having to compromise. I sincerely believe that now the electorate needs to know, beyond the rhetoric of compromise; consensus and unity, what is in risk? what kind of model of democracy and economy can be expected from their to-be-representatives? How can the people help directly to the political and economical stability of the country? For this to happen, the media has a big role to play --and I'm not talking about the mere play of words-- and that is to help create a great mobilization of journalistic stuffs comprehensive and free of euphemism for the average public. I'm sure this kind of complete coverage on each ideological position of competing political parties would liberate the media from the accusation that it's been one of the accessories to the violent structure of Nepali socio-political scenario.

6. manohar
None of those 601 who were in the CA should be allowed to stand for election this time round. They failed in their task miserably, brought untold suffering and shame for the Nepalese. They should all be barred from standing for office for at least one term!
Or the ballot box should maybe contain the option- NONE OF THE ABOVE. We have been taken for a ride by these crooks/politicians too many times. It is high time we all taught them a lesson.

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)