Chances of early poll acts slim

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Aug 25, 2017-The government may have fixed November 26 as the date for federal parliament and provincial assemblies elections, but chances of early enaction of two election-related bills into laws appear slim.

The bills on the elections of Legislature-Parliament and provincial assemblies have been under consideration at the State Affairs Committee (SAC) of Parliament for over a month. 

The cross-party lawmakers have registered 42 amendments in the bill related to the election of federal parliament, while the one concerning the polls of the provincial assemblies have received 35 amendments. CPN-ML lawmaker Aaindra Sundar Nembang, a committee member, said they were still unsure when the bills would be finalised. As amendments to the bills are of huge importance, he said, it is not possible to resolve them without having agreement at the top level.

Finding a meeting point on threshold and reservation for women even in the first-past-the-post has been the major bone of contention. The parties are also at odds over the duration of imposing ban on the person convicted in corruption charges, among others, from contesting the elections. While other parties are in favour of continuing the provision of life-time ban in the bills, some lawmakers from the Nepali Congress are against it. Radheshyam Adhikari, among other NC lawmakers, are calling for imposing a maximum ban of 3-6 years. Similarly, the cross-party female lawmakers have registered amendment proposals seeking a 40 percent reservation for women in the Provincial Assemblies and 33 percent in the Federal Parliament. They have also proposed to ensure a “women-only” contest in the constituencies that have been reserved for them. 

On the issue of threshold, the fringe parties are united against the provision of imposing a threshold between 1.5 and 3 percent for the parties to be eligible for representation in the House. The bills have provisions that any party failing to win at least one position under the FPTP system and not securing a minimum 3 percent PR votes will not get proportional representation seats. Any force winning seats in the FPTP that fails to secure 3 percent PR votes will be represented as a party of independents.

A number of fringe parties, including the CPN-ML, the Nepal Majdoor Kishan Party, the Rastriya Janamorcha, have registered amendments calling for a scrap of provisions on threshold. 

While the parties remain at odds, the SAC meeting could not be held as its Chairperson Dil Bahadur Gharti is on leave due to demise of his brother. Despite continuous pressure from Election Commission the Committee, it’s unlikely that the SAC will finalize the bills anytime soon.

SAC will forward the bill, along with amendment proposals, to the full House if fails to find a solution.

Published: 25-08-2017 07:47

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