Conditions For Political Stability
Dev Raj Dahal
The remarkable success of Left Alliance, led by the CPN-UML and the CPN- Maoist Centre in the recent local, federal and provincial elections, lies in its promise to secure stability and prosperity which is a must for a durable peace. Beset long by political instability, civil war and natural disruptions, this appeal was alluring for all, not just the proletariat. The declaration of common electoral manifesto, party unity and seat adjustment of 40-60 ratio added extra muscles. But seat distribution does not reflect the rhythm of popular verdict. The UML garnered 80 seats while Maoist Centre 36 seats in the first-past-the-post elections. Will the future left government follow popular verdict or party adjustment? How their unification will go when the feuding factions in both sides are battling for spoils of power without sharing each other’s values?
Its outcome will clarify the tormenting doubt whether the would-be left government can complete its full tenure and achieve the goals. Nepali Congress mustered only 23 seats. It could not maintain its earlier strength in the parliament. Only proportional election spawned a spring of hope. All the Madhes-based parties gained 21 seats. They are now looking for leverage in the trajectory of national politics. It can be a key to bridge the communal chasm and foster national unity. Still, politics in Nepal remains a contestable site.
Is there a similar background condition of all Nepalis to identify with citizenship which is a vital attribute of stability or are they emotionally indulged in prehistoric identities and loyalty to tribe, ethnicity, class, gender, region, religion and race marking an erosion of the regulatory power of Nepali state? What can be a common denominator for all political actors despite their noisy manifestoes which detonated huge public expectation? Have they changed the stance for a stable Nepal or maneuvered by experts who function inside the power with no inner sanction to realise socialist-oriented economy which is indistinguishable from liberal capitalism? The tyranny of ideologies that resonated with utopian zeal needs to be reconciled with the nation’s reality so that it cannot dupe the public and strain the sanity of shared institutions, tradition and culture that lend Nepal’s enduring resilience of sovereignty.
Stability Parameter: A strong centre is essential to put a tab on social fractures hitting the fault-lines of polity and build an innate unity of Nepali state’s realm and its source-citizens. It imposes checks on the unlawful manoeuvre of non-sovereign entities to weaken the state-society coherence. The official lenience to anti-systemic and disruptive forces for long has propelled the swing of Nepali polity between the right and the left rather than evolving a symbiosis for building impersonal stability parameters. Democratic politics seeks to resolve all conflicts through dialogue. But its conversion into a zero-sum game prompted the losers indulge in anti-systemic politics and scratch its legitimacy. A civic culture can alone manage greed and grievances, opposition and rebellion tormenting stability parameters of values, processes and institutions.
Nepali voters registered relative consistency in defeating the ruling parties while instability occurred in the behaviour of many leaders epitomised in code violation, sabotage and party defection which are the sources of instability. Political stability in Nepal supposes the salience of system-stabilising forces than centrifugal ones who often puts revolutionary demands without any purpose to satisfy even the legitimate one prompting people struggle for social and inter-generational justice which is the lynchpin of stability of polity and the state. Civic competence of citizens is a defence for participatory society which in itself is a function of civic education. It is a re-education of leaders and people for civilising ties between public institutions and the life-world.
Ownership in Constitution: The ownership of all actors in the constitution and matching behaviour enable the state to constitutionalize their action and move the nation in a stable direction. An element of trust between permanent institutions of Nepali state and meeting the functional requirements of federal, provincial and local structures of governance can improve faith in leaders’ capacity to solve problems, fulfil legitimate needs and grievance of citizens, regulate non-government, private sector and civil society and reduce the gap between the public and public servants through the coordination of tasks. A condition of public security can expedite political stability for business investment in livelihood, energy, infrastructures and social development and lure international partners in Nepal’s sustainable progress. The resolution of enduring conflict residues, transitional justice, post-earthquake resilient rebuilding and re-moralization of public life can confer Nepali citizens a feeling that there is a receptive leadership to support them in weal and woe.
Leaders’ integrity can bind them to the success of governance goals and check both anti-systemic parties and the politics of difference. Controlling undue influence of powerful pressure groups outside the official process can sustain national constellation of Nepali state, economy and citizenship. Weak parties and strong interest groups in Nepal reflect the erosion of national sovereignty in controlling the compradorisation of political economy causing migration of youths, the critical mass of change agents.
Overcoming Governance Deficit: In an age of transformation, equating fragile balance of power with stasis offers no viable solution to national problems. In a country of minority like Nepal, frequent change of governments has caused governance deficits. The innovation of inclusive politics demands fair representation of diverse social interests. This exacts a balance of interests at many scales: between the zeitgeist and national aspirations for good governance, horizontal balance among the state, market and civil society and parliament, executive and judiciary and vertical balance at multi-level rule - federal, provincial and local. Checks on misuse of power at each layer of governance can improve the national integrity system and seek a consistency of individual, group-based and universal human rights so that one set of rights does not skew the fair distribution of welfare resources. Monopoly of any one undermines the whole system and robs the nation of its political will to achieve authority against internal and external challenges.
Nepal’s political discourse and constitutional system are right-based. But there are no matching duties and resources to realise them. All the right-based groups seek the nation’s international consistency and desolidaritise with the natives. This sets idealistic hope of democratic politics at odds with the tenets of constitutionalism. Already group-based rights has fostered identity politics of organised class in Nepal and stifled the voices of unorganised minorities and civil society. Value stability requires indigenization of universal knowledge, law and policy to fit local condition, not the growth of cultural and contextual ignorance. Political parties must gain experience to repair political stability. They compose power, socialise and mobilise people, provide leadership and link the top with the bottom of society. But so long as they operate under the multi-verse of democracy, socialisation does not affirm the reasons of the Nepali state and politics will remain an arena of privilege which lets the polity to weaken itself by distributional struggle. The fragile democratic order in Nepal has decoupled the rule from the higher order principles of law, justice and morality. The scale of justice requires fairness of judicial system which is a foundation of stability.
The pluralist politics of Nepal entails general good will of all to create a synergy for the success of governance goals. This means fostering osmosis of actors on values, institutions and procedures and their dense links across the social and political spectrum. The solution of national problems can be found in the satisfaction of internal needs. Solution can be resilient if interest, ideology and identity of functional groups are optimised. It should not be based on labelling, leveraging or bargaining position of actors. The requisite of three per cent threshold for national party has ossified countless small parties and fixed their number to five. But two-third majority approval for the solution of vital issues and proportional election entail shared code for rival side.
Foreign policy needs an embedded balancing track, not shifting to new geopolitical trends and removal of the tag of a buffer for harnessing national aspiration is a condition of political stability. If the dysfunctional exercise of political power in Nepali stays, the nation cannot achieve the congruity of all national actors in public goods, a criterion for stability for the efficacy of democratic polity to maintain autonomy and adaptability and build the capacity in good governance. Judging oneself from other’s perspective offers the Nepali leaders a chance to do something essential together for enduring national progress and stability.