EC seeks more teeth for electoral reforms

- BHADRA SHARMA, Kathmandu
EC seeks more teeth for electoral reforms

Jul 19, 2015-

Expressing reservations about electoral provisions included in the draft constitution, the Election Commission (EC) has suggested the Constituent Assembly to empower the election body with the rights to announce poll date in coordination with the government.

At present, the government announces poll dates after consulting with the EC, but such dates are often changed under various pretexts, the commission argues.

“Date of elections for important positions such as President, Vice President, Federal Parliament should be declared in the Constitution itself and the EC should be empowered to announce the date of election in coordination with government of Nepal,” reads a letter that the EC submitted to the CA Secretariat on Sunday.

The EC believes elections are not taking place on time owing to friction among the parties. Besides affecting the periodic elections, the local polls have not been held for the past 13 years.

Election Commissioner Ila Sharma argued the periodic elections in countries passing through political transition like Nepal would be ensured only when the election body is empowered with the right of announcing the poll date. “This is the best way to ensure periodic elections in countries like ours. Suppose, if Parliament is dissolved who will announce the poll date?” she questioned. “Democracy will be strengthened only when constitution bodies are empowered and no one should be scared for their autonomy.”

Election body in India and Pakistan and the US enjoy this kind of right.

“Any political party must get at least 1-3% of the total valid votes. A party must have gained at least 3% valid votes in the previous election to be recognised as a national party,” the EC has suggested to the CA.

Since there is no threshold provision, the commission says, the number of political party has mushroomed in the recent elections, especially after the introduction of proportional representation electoral system in the wake of people’s movement in 2006.

Under the existing electoral law, anyone garnering 30,000-35,000 votes in the elections can ensure a position in Parliament under the proportional electoral system. Lured by plum public positions, the trend of forming a new party and splitting an established party has increased in the recent days. A total of 139 parties were registered with the EC ahead of the second Constituent Assembly elections in 2013.

Seeking autonomous statutes in the new constitution, the election commission has suggested the CA to empower it with the authority to decide the cut-off age and date of birth of voters to the election body, expenditure, appoint election officials and determine service and benefits of the commissioners in concurrence with those of the Supreme Court Justices.

“Currently we have no right to take action against officials found involved in electoral fraud nor can we take stance against the government once it transfers our bonafide staffers,” said Commissioner Sharma.

The EC has also suggested the CA to make the composition of election officials an inclusive on the basis of professional expertise; bar candidates from fielding candidacy from more than one constituency; define a minimum educational qualification of prospective candidates.

Published: 20-07-2015 08:04

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