Editorial

Tough road ahead

  • Not all smooth sailing even as elections seem primed to be held on schedule

Aug 31, 2017-The Cabinet has now decided to hold federal and provincial elections in two phases, on November 26 and December 7. Meanwhile, preparations for the third phase of local elections, scheduled for September 18, are also well underway. It is now almost certain that elections to all three tiers of government will be completed by the constitutional deadline of January 21, 2018, thus helping to avert a constitutional legitimacy crisis.  

Now there seem to be no political obstacles to hold successful polls. The Rastriya Janata Party- Nepal (RJP-N) has decided to participate in local elections and has begun campaigning, even though the amendment bill they supported failed to pass in Parliament. The party has also said that it will participate in provincial and federal elections. There do not appear to be any other political obstacles from any other parts of the country. Three major parties also appear to be committed to holding elections on time. Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba seems to be particularly keen to complete the electoral process during his tenure; Deuba is keenly aware that he was strongly criticised for failing to hold elections the last time he was the prime minister. He hopes to bolster his legacy by holding all elections on time. The Election Commission (EC) was worried that it would not be able to complete preparations for the federal and provincial elections if the polls were held on a single day, as the government initially planned to do. However, the government decided to hold elections in two phases at the Commission’s urging; now it seems as though the EC can complete polls satisfactorily and on time.

Nonetheless, there are still a number of issues that need to be addressed. The Constituency Delineation Commission (CDC) has now completed its work, and the final report was published  yesterday. We hope that the report produced by the CDC is not biased in favour of any parties or groups. In addition, Parliament is yet to pass crucial legislation regarding provincial and federal elections. The government should make strong efforts to resolve disagreements and put these bills to a vote as soon as possible.

Elections have never been held on time, but have been subjected to repeated postponements since the peace process began in 2006. If the government manages to hold all three elections by December, it will be a major accomplishment indeed. However, it is also clear that elections by themselves will not resolve all political disagreements. The issue of revising federal boundaries is likely to come up again in the future. In addition, there will likely be other disputes over the implementation of the constitution. The success of the new federal structure will be determined by how well Nepal’s political leaders address these issues in a way that is inclusive and has the consent of all sections of Nepal’s population.

Published: 31-08-2017 08:08

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