Executive President For Political Stability 

 

 

Mukti Rijal

The leaders and cadres of the Naya Shakti Party are effusively engaged at different locations of the Kathmandu in particular and country in general to garner support for their campaign in favour of the directly-elected executive president in Nepal. They have been requesting
the commoners to extend support to their campaign by putting their signatures to give boost to their stance and campaign.

Campaign

Supporters of the Naya Shakti Party have been out in this campaign for favour of the directly elected president. The party has a plan to collect one million signatures from all over the country and submit them to the authority and key stakeholders of the country. 

There is no need to remark that the prevailing variant of the parliamentary polity in Nepal offers a breeding ground for festering political instability to the detriment of democracy and prosperity of the country. The rationale in favour of the directly elected president can be stressed on many counts. 

Generally, it would contribute to political stability, create strong and stable government, help fulfill development aspirations of the people and build a broad-based and legitimate effective leadership to dawn a new era in the country. Moreover, the office of the president can be held directly accountable for decision taken because, in contrast to the parliamentary system, the chief executive is directly chosen by popular vote. It is thus easier for the electorate to reward or retrospectively punish a president (by voting him or her out of office) than is the case with parliamentary system.

The concept of directly elected prime minister in lieu of the Westminster model that we have adopted in Nepal today in our constitution was also mooted by the CPN (UML) in its manifesto issued during the last Constituent Assembly elections. The issue of the directly elected executive head of the state has been raked up by the Naya Shakti Party led by Dr. Baburam Bhattarai at this time again which was abandoned during the time of the finalisation and promulgation of the new the constitution in September 2015.

As the constitution of Nepal enacted some 17 months back has already given continuity to the parliamentary model, the discussion on the mode and modality of the formation of the government during these days – parliamentary or presidential – may not gather much steam unless it is advanced and enhanced by the major political parties especially, the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML. It needs to be mentioned that the Nepali Congress has been the stubborn advocate of the parliamentary model and it was the sheer adamancy of this party that the other major parties despite their different positions had to give in while finalising the federal constitution in Nepal.

In its CA election manifesto, the then UCPN-Maoist (now Maoist Centre) had categorically pitched for the directly elected president. Not only this,   there was reportedly  an overwhelming majority of support from the people in favour of the  proposition  for the directly elected head of the government  as indicated by the submissions  from the people in the Constituent  Assembly,  among others. There was substantive majority of civil society opinion that was vented in favour of the executive presidency. But the political parties--Maoists and UML--abandoned their agenda and grossly missed the opportunity to provide the historic turn to the polity of the country.

 In fact, as reported, when the political parties had been locked in the debate to choose the form of the government, there was a possibility of agreement among the political stakeholders on the presidential model of the government had its votaries and advocates made a much -needed push for it in an arduous, effective and principled manner. But they compromised on this very vital agenda and lent their support to the continuity of the parliamentary model.

When the political leaders were nearing the finalisation of the constitution, this writer had called on Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, chief of the Constituent Assembly committee mandated to facilitate political consensus on the contentious constitutional issues. This writer had made a plea with him not to give up the long held stance for favour of the directly elected executive president. Dr. Bhattarai, who quit the UCPN (Maoist) and floated the new political party popularly known as Naya Shakti Party Nepal, seemed helpless and had retorted that the issue had already been resolved in favour of the parliamentary model.

These days Dr. Bhattarai is committed to presidential model and is determined to fight for it in securing stability and prosperity in the country. It was, indeed, the former prime minister and chief of the CPN (UML) KP Sharma Oli who had backtracked on the party’s stance on the directly elected prime minister and joined in hand with the Nepali Congress- the traditional champion of the parliamentary model- to surrender the important agenda. Political leaders are shortsighted, and therefore tend to make compromise on principles for short-term gains and benefits at the expense of long-term political goal.

Had the leaders agreed on the presidential model through negotiation and accorded a space in the constitution, political stability would have been achieved, which has been a much-needed
precondition for the socio-economic development of the country. Now whining for the political stability is like crying over the spilt milk since the opportunity for opting to it through constitutional provision has been grossly missed.

Nasty experience

 It may take decades before the parties like NC recognised to the importance of the institution of executive presidency for political stability and development. It is very disconcerting  to note that  the average life span of  a government in Nepal  is not more than  a year for the last several  years,  and the latest casualty has been  the government  headed by UML leader KP Oli that
had  been voted out  after its formation in a period of  nine  months. The fate of the government led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda is also in a limbo. This country is thus ill destined to undergo the nasty experience of political bickering, moral bankruptcy and socio-economic stagnation before the relevance and importance of directly elected prime minister or president was realised by the major political parties to check the moral and political disaster and degeneration in the country.

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