Fringe parties: Threshold design to disenfranchise marginalised groups

- Post Report, Kathmandu
The bill related to political parties, which awaits parliamentary nod, requires a national party to pass 3 percent vote threshold in parliamentary polls

Feb 10, 2017-Fringe Madhesi and Janajati parties have stood against an electoral threshold in the parliamentary election, claiming it as a design to disenfranchise marginalised and excluded communities. The electoral threshold is the minimum share of the vote which a political party requires to secure any representation in a legislature.

The bill related to political parties, which is awaiting parliamentary approval, requires a national political party to pass three percent threshold at the parliamentary polls. Major parties advocating for threshold describe it as a necessary step to bring down the number of smaller parties and stop anomalies in parliamentary politics. Fringe parties, however, argue that setting an additional bar is against the spirit of inclusive and proportional representation in politics. 

“We already have a natural threshold in place as a party will need more than 100,000 votes to earn one seat under the proportional representation. Setting further threshold would deny representation to marginalised and excluded communities,” said Ashok Rai, senior leader of the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum Nepal (SSF-N). 

“The threshold will not affect our party but it will affect many others representing marginalised and excluded groups. We should cherish a wider representation as it is the beauty of multi-party democracy,” he said. 

Rai said that the parties affiliated to the Sanghiya Gathabandhan, an amalgam of more than two dozen Madhesi and Janajati forces protesting against the constitution, said that would strongly oppose the threshold. The three major parties—Maoist Centre, Nepali Congress and CPN-UML—are in favour of creating three percent threshold to limit the number of parties. Of 122 parties registered at the Constituent Assembly in 2012, 30 parties and two independent candidates secured representation in Parliament. 

Rajendra Shrestha, who heads the Gathabandhan’s central secretariat, said that the alliance would make its views public after holding an internal discussion. 

“We haven’t thought about it yet. We would discuss these things after our demands are addressed through amendment in the constitution,” said Shrestha, who is also co-chair of the SSF-N. 

Mahindra Raya Yadav, chairman of the Tarai Madhes Sadbhawana Party, said that the threshold would prevent diverse groups from having a political representation. He said that the issues of threshold should be resolved in a package together with other disputed issues. 

Published: 10-02-2017 08:22

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