The logical step

  • Despite the initial confusion, the country now seems all set for provincial and federal polls

Oct 23, 2017-

Nominations for First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) candidates were submitted yesterday for the first phase of federal and provincial elections. With Proportional Representation (PR) candidates selected last week, momentum towards elections has gathered significant steam. 

Only a few days ago there were doubts regarding whether elections would be held on schedule. CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre had suspicions that Nepali Congress was trying to postpone elections. One, some NC parliamentarians were actively arguing that elections should be held in a single phase on December 7. Two, there were fears that the Supreme Court might rule in favour of a writ petition which argued that the structure of ballot papers (where there are a total of 2 ballot papers for 4 votes) was unconstitutional. 

But none of these fears have materialised. The SC last week ruled against the writ petition. And now, candidacy nominations have taken place on time. Barring a dramatic and unforeseen event, the elections will take place on schedule.

It is also noteworthy that the process of forming election alliances proceeded relatively uneventfully. Granted, there were a few controversies. Naya Shakti Party Nepal had initially decided to join the communist alliance, but finding its claims rejected, it later went over to NC. Also, there was a huge public outcry when it emerged that some parties were planning to nominate known gangsters. The outrage appears to have made a difference; UML at least decided not to hand a ticket to the notorious criminal Deepak Manange. 

Overall, however, the electoral alliance process has moved ahead relatively well. UML and the Maoists have finally sorted out differences over dividing up FPTP seats among themselves, and also incorporated a number of smaller parties into their ranks (such as the CPN-United and Rastriya Janamorcha). As for NC, it too has managed to put together an alliance, or more accurately some kind of electoral collaborations, of various parties. So far, it has managed to accommodate RPP, RPP-Democratic and Naya Shakti, and is negotiating with Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum Nepal (SSFN). 

The emerging trend indicates that the Nepali political sphere will consolidate into two major groupings, led by NC on the one hand and UML on the other. Nonetheless, this is not a preordained outcome. For one, the distribution of FPTP seats will be much harder the second phase than during the first. The parties are yet to resolve seat sharing issues in the most contentious districts. For example, NC will likely find it very hard to agree on a compromise with SSFN and Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) in the Madhes-dominant Province 2. Furthermore, there is every possibility that the alliances will split apart after the elections.  

Whatever the eventual outcome, however, the upcoming polls seem likely to lead to major changes in the way that Nepal is governed. And for now, elections to the provincial bodies and federal parliament, planned for November 26 and December 7, seem all set.  

Published: 23-10-2017 07:42

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