Poll Alliance For Stability
The electoral battle for the first phase federal and provincial parliament has been formally launched following the filing of nominations by the party-sponsored aspirants the other day. The first phase polls slated for November 26 will be contested for 37 seats of the House of the Representatives (Federal Parliament) and 74 seats for the provincial assemblies (Pradesh Sabhas) in thirty two districts of the country. According to the Election Commission records, altogether 802 candidates have filed their nominations for the first phase polls with 320 candidates vying for the federal parliament and 482 eyeing the provincial legislature. The second phase polls in forty five districts will be conducted during the first week of December.
The number of candidates throwing their hats in the ring indicates that the aspirants far outnumber the seats put on the anvil thereby making it clear that several aspirants are destined to be weeded out in the electoral selection. However, compared to the previous elections, the number of the aspirants has been considerably minimised due to the provision related with threshold. This has also compelled even the smaller parties to go in for forging the electoral alliance lest they would be eliminated in the poll battle. During the previous elections especially held for the constituent assemblies, over one hundred fifty parties participated in the polls. No matter the number of seats won and vote tally, the smaller groups were recognized in the form of political parties and had secured representation in the law-making body through proportional representation (PR) electoral system. This had led into mushrooming of the political parties regardless their organisational size and strength. It had also enhanced their leveraging capacity to dig in for bargaining over the ministerial berths of the national coalition governments.
The erstwhile Rastriya Prajatantra Party (Nepal), led by Kamal Thapa, had emerged as the fourth largest party in the national legislature due to the PR despite the fact that the party had failed to win any seat in the direct election . The smaller parties held the key to make or break the government resulting into the chronic political instability and impermanence of the governance system. In fact, the fractured and divided mandate had been at the root of fast turnover of the prime minister and ministers costing dearly on the effectiveness of the country’s administration and development. In fact, such a phenomenon of the festering political instability and administrative fragility had to be stopped and checkmated with whatever means and costs. The provision with regard to threshold in the recently formulated electoral law has been a conscious and studied attempt to check the malaise through consolidation of the political groups to produce political stability in the country.
The interesting spectacle of political consolidation and aggregation has been that the major political parties have formed two major alliances based on their political and ideological spectrum. The country two major communist parties – CPN-UML and CPN - Maoist Centre – have come closer not only through constituency seat swapping but also with long-term commitment to integration and unification with a view to build a single leftist bloc. Many other fringe leftist groups have also thrown their weight behind this alliance.
The sudden coming together of the major leftist parties that had been bitterly at loggerheads with each other for some time now did indeed caught the Nepali Congress party unaware. Sensing the need for similar initiative to counter the challenge in the electoral battle, the Nepali Congress has also jumped into action to gather together the like-minded parties opposed to or left out of the communist alliance to form seat adjustment understanding. As result, the regional party led by Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar, a prominent Tharu leader having its organisational base and following especially in the Tharu dominant area in the western and Eastern Terai, came to formalise a merger with the Nepali Congress. Moreover, Rastriya Janata Party, Madhesi Janaadhikar Forum led by Upendra Yadav and factions of the Rastriya Prajatantra Party have already sided with Nepali Congress to form an alliance for the election.
Consequently, the upcoming federal and provincial elections are seemingly being fought out by two big alliances of the parties to produce expectedly consolidated and decisive results in the elections. The major parties like Nepali Congress and UML have agreed to adjust and concede seat to their alliance partners and support their candidates indicating that they are committed to promote and strengthen political alliances to maintain their prominence in the electoral competition. In the first phase polls scheduled to be held on Nov 26 political veterans like Pashupati Shumsher Rana, Arjun Narsingh KC, Ram Saran Mahat and many others have vied in the polls on behalf of the democratic alliance. Similarly, key leftist leaders like Dev Gurung, Agni Sapkota,Yogesh Bhattarai and Prithivi Subba Gurung have filed their nomination to contest polls in the first phase.
Going by the profile and backgrounds of the leaders selected and fielded by the respective alliances to contest the polls, it looks like that the electoral tussle is poised to be highly tough. It is really very difficult to predict the outcome of the popular verdict as the competition is more or less head on and straight. In fact, with the emergence of the Maoists as the major political force, elections in Nepal, especially during the previous constituent assembly elections had been characterised by three-cornered contest. This upcoming electoral competition is likely to be bilaterally straight. There is wider anticipation that the election results will be decisive enough to produce stable government both at the federal and province level for effective governance and development of the country.