Divided on unification

  • Parties disappoint voters who want to see a quick formation of a stable govt

Dec 28, 2017-A large number of people voted for the left alliance in the recent elections because they promised a new era of stability in Nepal. But the chain of political events since the elections reveals that very little has changed and things are much the same. 

Each political party is concerned solely with how to accrue maximum power for itself and has little concern about the wider interest. The political process was initially stuck due to disputes between the Nepali Congress (NC) and the CPN-UML over the National Assembly (NA) election ordinance. This impasse has not yet been resolved. But now further complications have arisen due to a deterioration of relations between the CPN-UML and the CPN-Maoist Centre (MC), the key partners in the left alliance. 

The causes of the dispute, needless to say, have to do with the fact that the dominant party in the alliance, the UML, seems unwilling to share significant power with the MC. For their part, MC leaders claim that there had been an agreement that UML Chairman KP Oli and MC Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal would share time as prime minister over the next five years. 

Further, MC leaders claim that the UML is increasingly reluctant to hand over leadership of the merged party to Dahal following Oli’s stint as prime minister. The MC’s suspicions increased after the UML reached out to the Federal Socialist Forum’s (FSF’s) Upendra Yadav, apparently in a bid to form a government that does not include the MC. UML leaders say the Maoist party has continually raised stakes for party unification after the election, a sign that they are not serious about long-term unification. 

Meanwhile, the NC and the Maoists appear to have commenced with their own negotiations in what seems to be an attempt to form a government that excludes the UML (but includes the Madhesi parties). 

Disputes over the NA election ordinance have continued through all these developments. The NC, of course, has long been favour of a Single Transferable Vote (STV) system, and the UML has been advocating for a majority system. Under the UML’s system, the NC would not receive even a single seat in the NA. This has riled the NC, of course, but it has also caused disquiet among the MC and both the major Madhesi parties. They are concerned about what appears to be the UML’s drive to marginalise other parties.

All of this has led to an unfortunate situation indeed. The public was enthused during the elections but if things continue on this path, there will soon be widespread disillusionment and anger. The parties need to realise that the mandate of the elections was for the UML and MC to form a government together. Any other outcome will be unacceptable. 

The UML meanwhile needs to take a more accommodating position, and demonstrate a willingness to get other parties on board. As a first step, it should agree on an electoral system that will allow for the representation of the NC in the NA. 

Published: 28-12-2017 07:48

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