A Victory For Democracy, Nation

 

Narayan Upadhyay

 

The first round of the local poll was held in a peaceful manner in which a good number of electorate cast their votes in three newly carved provinces. The successful holding of the local poll this week, held after a hiatus of 20 years, is an indication that the Nepalese voters are always ready to participate in polls that enable them to elect their representatives, who will, in turn, empower them.

Unexpected turn out

The people's hunger to vote in a democratically held election appeared to have satiated as they utilised their democratic rights to cast votes in such a way that they made this local poll a resounding success. No one has ever thought that such a large number of voters would be visiting polling stations to choose their representatives. It has pleasantly surprised everyone- from people, political parties, the media and international communities and observers.

 

The lingering fear that the local polls would not be held in the country in the present time, given the  political instability and transition, has been laid to rest, thanks to the  avowal made by the government, the ruling coalition and the main opposition to hold the election at any cost. The electorate also responded to this avowal of the government and political parties quite positively. About 73 per cent of more than 4.9 million voters of three provinces- 3, 4 and 6, turned out to cast their votes to elect mayors, deputy mayors, ward chairpersons and ward members of the 283 local units of the three provinces that comprises of  metropolises, municipalities and village councils.

 

The first round of the poll does have plethora of significance for the country that has just become a democratic federal republic and which is now waiting to hold three more hustings- the second round of the local polls, provincial assembly and federal parliament elections. This week's local poll attracted lots of interest and attention of the people at large, the media and international observers because all of them were initially suspicious about the success of the poll.

 

The ongoing political squabbles among the political parties over the constitution had indeed heightened the level of apprehension that the government and ruling coalition would not be able to hold this election successfully or a large number of voters might shun it. As the tussle among the parties over the constitution amendment bill elongated, the Election Commission had even got less time to make preparations for the election. However, the EC, after burning its midnight oil, achieved success in concluding the first round of polls. Many in the country have now believed that the first round of the poll will act as dress rehearsal for the EC in organising two key elections--the election for the provincial assemblies of seven provinces and federal parliament within next nine months.

 

This election has highlighted another fact--the Nepalese people have a strong craving for utilising their constitutionally guaranteed rights to franchise. They are very much aware to exercise this right under any circumstances. As the voters participated in overwhelming number, the first round of poll has taken the nation closer to realising the values and spirit of the new constitution which has not come to its full force owing to the existing tussle over the provisions of the constitution. The success of the poll is likely to goad even the parties and leaders who have not supported the implementation of the new constitution to respect the values and outcome of the first round of the poll, held in an impartial and free manner.

 

Initially, it was alleged that the parties, mainly the ruling ones and the Madhesi parties were less interested in the local polls, because they were occupied on the issue of the constitution amendment bill. Earlier, the Madhes-based parties had demanded that the local polls to be postponed. They even threatened to boycott the polls if their demand to amend the statute before the local polls was not addressed. The government and the ruling parties which were tied by the constitutional provisions of holding local election before other two key elections, decided to go with the first round of polls. With a view to comply with the constitutional provisions,  the ruling parties and major political stakeholders agreed to redraw and fix the number of local units to 744 in a swift way. The EC too undertook its responsibility to organise the first phase of poll in a short span of time. The decision to hold the local polls in two phases have made the task for the EC somewhat easier.

 

The first round of poll would certainly put the nation on the path to democratisation of the nation. Holding of periodic election is an integral part of a true democracy. Through this periodic election, the people would elect their representatives of their choices at all level of governance, who would perform their duties on all matters that have direct bearing to the welfare of the common people. The successful conclusion of the first phase of poll has made our political parties and leaders aware about an urgent need to hold other remaining elections in stipulated date so as to further empower the electorate. On the other hand, this election has opened the gate towards rendering the nation into a full democratic republic for which the people, the parties and the leaders had waged many struggles.

 

After the first round of poll concluded, people are eagerly awaiting the outcome of the poll, which is but a natural thing during every election. For many the outcome of the election can be an important aspect. The leaders and the political parties may look for the victory of their respective candidates in the poll.  But for many only the outcome of the election is not an important thing. Importance of this poll goes beyond the matter related to winner and losers in the poll.

 

Significance

 

The significance of the successful first round of poll lies in the fact that the Nepali people are a lot who are very much aware about their democratic rights. No one--no party, leader or candidate- can mislead them when it comes to utilising their rights. Because of the people's awareness and their expression of likes and dislikes through secret ballots may produce unthinkable results in the poll.  Indeed, this poll has restored the rights of the people to choose their representatives while the same has set out the nation towards the path of full implementation of the constitution, which will certainly ensure peace, progress and prosperity of the new democratic republic of Nepal. The vote cast during the first phase of poll would go miles in heralding new democratic awakening in the nation. The first round of the poll is thus a victory for democracy in the nation which is still passing through a transition and confronting political instability.

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