Frustrating And Uncalled For Dispute
An unexpected dispute whether the new government should be formed first or the National Assembly (NA) has pour cold water on people’s eagerness to see a new elected government in place. With the announcement of the results of the two-phase election to the House of Representative and provincial assembly under the first-past-the-post and the conclusion of the vote count under the proportional representative electoral system almost over, it is time that the country should be awaiting for the formation of the new government. Instead, people are presented with a dispute and they have no choice but to wait for the settlement of the new dispute.
The left alliance, which has got an overwhelming victory in the election, has been saying that the new government should be formed first while the Nepali Congress which is leading the government but has lost the election argues that the NA should be formed first. The leaders of the left alliance particularly those of the CPN-UML have blamed the Prime Minister for creating unnecessary obstacles to delay formation of the new government whereas PM Sher Bahadur Deuba has been expressing readiness to hand over the power. Not unusually, legal experts are also divided over the issue. This all shows that the formation of the new elected government will take much longer than expected.
An ordinance related to the formation of the NA has been pending at the President’s. The left alliance has accused the government for deviating from the political agreement with regard to the ordinance. They blame the government inserted some unconstitutional provisions in the ordinance as the ordinance says that the single transferable vote (STV) system will be adopted to elect NA members. Chiefs and deputy chiefs of the local levels and the provincial assembly members are the voters for the candidate of the NA. As the left alliance are in majority in the 6 out of 7 provinces and they also have majority even in local levels, they hope to gain a sweeping victory in the NA if majoritarian electoral system for NA formation is adopted. So, they are for majoritarian while NC hopes to secure some seats in the NA through the STV. Because of the dispute over the ordinance, the President has kept it pending and asked leader of the major parties including Prime Minister Deuba to seek political consensus over the issue.
Obviously, NC seems to be trying to secure more seats in the NA by way of STV. Such a stance has only minimised NC’s democratic image for holding the national elections. NC has suffered a heavy loss in the federal parliament and provincial assembly election mainly because of the FPTP system. Otherwise, the number of vote it has gained under the PR system is almost as equal as to that of the CPN-UML. Even if NC secures slightly more seats in the NA because of the STV, it will have no significant meaning because the left alliance of the UML and the CPN-Maoist Center will be in an overwhelming majority. Therefore, there is no need for both the left alliance and the NC to continue debate over the NA formation or election system.
Besides, one more dispute seems to be rising its head now. It is related with the unity of the two major constituents of the left alliance- the UML and the CPN-Maoist Center. Some of the UML leaders, for instance UML general secretary Ishwor Pokharel, have come to the media to say indirectly that party unity between the two will be based on the people’s verdict as expressed in the recent elections and that the chief of the party, prime minister and the leader of the parliamentary party will be the same person and from the UML. Undoubtedly, the UML have secured unprecedented victory in the election. But this win has also been due to the alliance and people’s aspiration to see political stability and development because the left alliance had pledged for the same.
The UML and the MC has shared the constituencies for federal parliament and provincial assembly elections in the ratio of 60 and 40. But, now, the UML’s position is more than double of the MC in both the PR vote and the number of members in the House of Representatives and the provincial assembly. It was expected that the share of the organization power between the two will also be based on the ratio adopted for the election. However, some UML leaders seem to be changing their minds. This is likely to frustrate the MC leaders and prolong the unity process, which will also affect the functioning of the new government of the left alliance even if it is formed in time.
Leaders of the left alliance should understand that NC is as powerful as they are if the vote it has gained in the PR system is any guide. This time the left alliance has emerged victorious simply because the people wanted to test them. The leader of the left alliance said through their common manifesto that they would unify their parties, they would ensure political stability and usher in the new era of overall development. Now, they have emerged victorious because people believed in what they said. But, if they fail to deliver to the people they will have no more chances even to correct their mistakes. Therefore, the UML and the MC should carry out party unity as soon as possible.
With regard to the NA formation ordinance, political consensus is the only option. Political parties including the NC and the UML should realise that the ordinance needs to be endorsed by the parliament by a two-third majority. What happens if the ordinance is rejected by the parliament? And for a two-third majority, even NC has a role to play in the parliament, so the UML and the MC cannot ignore the NC. Moreover, even after the left alliance forms the government, it will have to consider the NC as the main opposition party. Therefore, political consensus among these three sides on the issue of the ordinance is critical at the moment, which will pave the way for both government formation and the NA election.