Political Model For Stability
The Left Alliance (Bam Gathabandhan) comprising principally of the CPN-UML and the CPN-Maoist Centre has won thumping victory in the federal and provincial elections held on November 26 and December 7.The Democratic Alliance mainly the Nepali Congress miserably finished poor third in the first-past-the-post seats . It was some kind of a humiliating defeat for the party that has always been at the centre stage of the Nepali politics both from the popularity and legitimacy point of view. However, thanks to mixed kind of the electoral system, the Nepali Congress has received consolation from its performance in the Proportional Representation seats racing neck to neck with the UML. The Maoist Centre that finished second in the direct seat tally has reckoned to trail in third position in the PR seats, slouching way far behind the Nepali Congress.
However, in the overall seat tally the Left Alliance is very near to a two-thirds majority which it had dreamt of while forging alliance to contest elections .The Left Alliance has clinched victory in the provincial assembly elections, taking six out of the seven provinces where it can form government with more or less absolute majority. In at least two provinces, UML alone has won the seats where it can constitute the provincial governments without seeking support from other parties, including the Maoist Centre and so on. Now It is expected that the Left Alliance, as it has rock solid majority in the Parliament, will from government and start delivering stability and prosperity in the country.
Generally, when a single party or an alliance of the like-minded parties formed before the elections wins the requisite majority seats in the parliament to form the government, it can bring in and usher political stability in the country. However, this is possible only when the parties have minimum semblance of convergence based on values and principles. In case of Nepal, the past experiences do indicate that the political parties have taken unprincipled and deviant posturing or turn at the cost of values and principles and swayed to any extremes for power.
Good part of the Left Alliance, churned out of the two major communist parties this time, has been that it fought elections on the basis of the common electoral manifesto. It is, therefore, anticipated that they will move ahead for unity and integration, leaving all kind of their prejudices and minor differences behind. However, the coming days will test their mettle and commitment of unity as they enter for negotiation over sharing of the party and governmental positions. In case UML and the Maoist Centre linger on and fail to unite into a single party immediately as they had committed through their integration, the possibility of parting their ways cannot be ruled out. When the Left alliance fails to act according to the prefabricated architecture of unity and integration, the expectation for political stability will be shattered.
It is interesting to note that the Maoist unity centre that had harped on the direct elected executive presidency for political stability appears to have shunned the agenda. Even the Left Alliance electoral manifesto fell short of mentioning about their commitment to the direct elected executive chief in the country.
In fact, from institutional and systemic point of view, the prevailing variant of the parliamentary polity coupled with mixed electoral system - FPTP and PR- that is adopted in Nepal offers ground for instability and frequent changes of the government. In this type, few institutional disincentives exist to check and limit the parties from forming and changing political alignments as no single party can have the possibility command majority in the parliament through polls. In fact, 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 and, help fulfil development aspirations of the people. It can help build broad-based and legitimate effective leadership.
It needs to be mentioned that the Nepali Congress party has been the stubborn advocate of the parliamentary model and it held its firm position that the other major parties had to give in while finalising federal constitution in Nepal two years ago. Not only that the Maoists had categorically pitched for the directly elected president there was reportedly an overwhelming majority of the support from the people in favour of the proposition for 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 – Maoist Centre and UML- abandoned their agenda, failed to negotiate with the Nepali Congress on give and take basis. They missed the opportunity to provide a historic turn to the polity of the country.
Short term gains
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 effective and principled manner. But they compromised on this agenda and lent their support to the continuity of the parliamentary model. Political leaders seem to be short-sighted and therefore, tend to make compromise on principles for short term gains and benefits at the expense of long term political goal. It is hoped that the political parties would behave according to what they have committed and dedicate to the betterment of the country in the days ahead.