House endorses two election-related bills

- Binod Ghimire, Kathmandu

Sep 5, 2017-

Parliament on Monday endorsed two election-related bills. The Bill on Election of House of Representatives and the Bill on Election of Provincial Assembly were stuck in the State Affairs Committee (SAC) of Parliament for about two months, even as the Election Commission (EC) continued to press for election laws, saying its preparations for federal and provincial polls were hampered due to lack of laws. 

The federal and provincial elections have been called for November 26 and December 7. 

SAC on Monday morning only finalised the bills and sent them to the House for their endorsement. 

One of the most contentious issues was Nepali Congress (NC) lawmakers’ demand that a provision barring convicts of corruption and other serious crimes from contesting in elections be removed. The NC had met with severe criticism for demanding that there should not be a life-time ban on corruption convicts and that they should be allowed to contest in elections after they have served their jail terms. 

The provision of barring convicts of corruption from contesting in elections, however, has been retained. 

The new laws will come into force after President Bidya Devi Bhandari authenticates them. 

The bills endorsed by the House have retained the threshold provisions,  as per which parties must secure at least three percent votes and win one seat under the first-past-the-post system to have their representation in the federal parliament. Similarly, they must secure at least 1.5 percent votes and one seat to ensure their representation in the provincial assemblies. 

Parties failing to meet the threshold would have their candidates both in the federal parliament and provincial assemblies as independents. Smaller parties had objected to threshold provisions, saying they favoured big parties.  Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party and some other small parties had written a note of dissent when SAC approved the bills on Monday. 

While tabling the bills in the House, Minister for Home Affairs Janardan Sharma, however, said the provisions will help ensure stability. 

There were also differences over the provision of “Right to No Vote”. But going against a Supreme Court ruling, the provision was withdrawn following strong reservations mainly from the main opposition CPN-UML. 

Both the bills have the provisions of 33 percent women representation in federal parliament and provincial assemblies. While submitting the closed list to the EC, the parties must ensure 13.8 percent participation of Dalits, 28.7 percent of indigenous nationalities, 31.2 percent of Khas Arya, 15.3 percent of Madhesis, 6.6 percent of Tharus and 4.4 of Muslims.  

The parties must compensate the shortfall in the FPTP category through proportional representation. 

The bills have been endorsed with the provision that gives the government the authority to call elections. The EC had demanded that the authority to announce elections should be given to it. 

 

 

Key facts

  • Convicts of corruption barred from contesting in elections
  • 1.5 percent and 3 percent threshold provisions for provincial assembly and federal parliament elections respectively. Parties must win at least one seat under FPTP system
  • ‘Right to No Vote’ provision removed
  • Govt holds the authority to announce elections
  • 33 percent women representation provision retained
  • Parties must ensure representation of Dalits (13.8 percent), indigenous nationalities (28.7 percent), Khas Arya (31.2 percent), Madhesis (15.3 percent, Tharus (6.6 percent) and Muslims (4.4 percent) 

Published: 05-09-2017 07:31

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