Govt preparing to hold 2 major polls together

  • Says it will save money, ensure country does not miss Jan 21 deadline
- TIKA R PRADHAN, Kathmandu

Jul 30, 2017-Major parties appear almost one on Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s proposal of holding both provincial and federal elections on the single date.

As per the constitutional deadline, the country must hold the two elections by January 21 next year when the tenure of the incumbent Parliament ends.

Minister for Finance Gyanendra Bahadur Karki said the government has started preparations for holding both the polls together. “This will not only lessen the financial burden but will also ensure that we don’t miss the constitutional deadline,” said Karki. According to him, the government is also studying the Election Commission (EC)’s suggestion on using electronic voting machines, at least in metropolises. 

The government has asked the EC to hold dialogue with the parties on use of EVMs.

Earlier, the EC had proposed provincial polls in the third week of October and federal elections in the third week of November. 

On Thursday, PM Deuba sought to know from the EC whether both the elections were possible on the same date. 

Minister for Home Affairs Janardan Sharma confirmed that the government had sent a proposal to the EC for holding both the polls together and that discussions among parties would be expedited soon. 

With only five months remaining for concluding both the elections, and voting in some parts of the countries during winter months (December-January) almost impossible, it’s a race against time for the Deuba government. 

Failure to hold the elections by January next year will create a constitutional crisis, and CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli has been raising the issue time and again. Hence the UML too seems ready for both the polls at one go. 

CPN (Maoist Centre) Spokesperson Pampha Bhusal said the party has been lobbying for the same for quite some time. 

The Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) is also positive about holding both the polls together, but party leaders said the government should take all the parties into confidence before taking the decision. RPP Chief Whip Dilanath Giri said though the party was yet to discuss the issue, his party would accept the proposal if all other parties were ready for it. 

Holding both the polls may reduce the financial burden, but it comes with some complications. 

Election Commissioner Ila Sharma said the constitution envisions provincial polls before federal elections. “The EC will face practical problems if both the polls are held together,” she said but stopped short of elaborating. 

During the meeting with PM Deuba on Thursday, EC officials had drawn his attention to such complications. If the two elections are held on the same date, voters have to put their stamps on four ballot papers. Hence, the EC officials had suggested using electronic voting machines and using single ballot paper for the first-past-the-post (FPTP) and proportional representation (PR) systems, which will mean a vote cast for a candidate of a particular party under the FPTP would mean a vote for the same party under PR.

Parties, however, are yet to discuss the EC’s proposal of single ballot paper for FPTP and PR. 

Though some consider this a good idea, as it could avoid confusion among voters due to less number of ballot papers, others believe it will limit people’s choice, as some voters might like to vote one particular party’s candidate under FPTP and another party under PR.

UML Chair Oli said his party could support this proposal, but Maoist Centre’s Bhusal said the party was yet to discuss the issue. 

Published: 30-07-2017 07:07

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