Time to vote

  • Let’s exercise our discretion and democratic rights and make local polls a success

May 10, 2017-With only four days to go for the first phase of the local level elections, campaigning is in full swing in Province 3, 4 and 6. As part of their electoral strategy, many aspiring candidates are visiting individual houses to solicit votes. Given that local polls are being held after two decades, there is palpable enthusiasm among the general population. It is heartening that many young voters, who have never had the opportunity to elect their local representatives, are excited about participating in a democratic exercise of such a scale.  

But at the same time, there is a sizable chunk of the population that is apathetic about the elections and unwilling to vote. In a way they cannot be blamed, given the slow pace of change in their lives over the years and the dirty power game that Nepali politics is generally perceived as having degenerated into. 

Such disillusionment with older parties is partly what new parties hope to capitalise on. Despite the legions of political parties already in existence, the new parties justify their formation on the grounds that they provide an alternative to the old and moribund parties. Especially noteworthy is their use of social media to organise their supporters and to galvanise and connect with voters. It will be interesting to see how they will fare in the upcoming polls. 

In the last few weeks, the mayoral race in Kathmandu has generated considerable public interest, as can be discerned from the growing buzz on social media. For example, Bibeksheel Nepali’s choice of candidate, 21-year old Ranju Darshana, has been making waves as the youngest nominee for mayor till date. Interviews of candidates vying for the mayoral position of Kathmandu Metropolis have been widely published and aired by numerous media outlets. Debates and discussions between them have been attended by local residents and aired by television and radio channels. Such civic participation and interest are indeed helpful in making democracy at the local level more mature. 

One choice that Kathmandu’s mayoral race has presented voters with is between candidates from the mainstream and the “alternative” parties. Despite differences, they all appear to have correctly diagnosed the myriad problems plaguing Kathmandu: rapid and haphazard urbanisation and its attendant impacts such as air pollution, traffic congestion, water shortage, etc. Expediting reconstruction of Kathmandu’s heritage sites is also a key part of their election agenda. The challenge, of course, is in translating words into action. 

For the next couple of days, parties will continue their electoral campaign to generate enthusiasm among voters who are not keen about voting or are yet to make up their minds. We urge our readers to exercise your discretion and democratic rights, and help make local elections a success. 

Published: 10-05-2017 07:56

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