Cumbersome Constitutional Provisions
The impasse in the formation of the new left alliance-led government has continued. The “failure” on the part of the Election Commission to publish the results of the Proportional Representations category of the House of Representatives at the earliest has been at the root of the delay, which has allowed Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba to prolong his rule for a few weeks more. This unusual delay has raised the heckles of the two major parties- the CPN-UML and the CPN- Maoist Centre, because the delay in the publishing the PR results has barred these two parties from forming their government as they have jointly won majority in the federal and many of the provincial assemblies.
The other day, a group of senior leaders of the two parties, led by former House Speaker Subhas Chandra Nembang, visited the EC and expressed their dissatisfaction over the prolonged delay in the publishing the results at the earliest. The highly annoyed left leaders charged the EC for deliberately lengthening the process to make public the results. However, in his reply to the irked communist leaders, the Chief Election Commissioner gently reminded them of the existing constitutional provisions that have to be followed before publishing all the results.
As per the constitutional provisions, the election governing constitutional body can publish the final results only after the winning parties fulfill all the requirements such as sending the names of all PR nominees “correctly,” so that the constitutionally provisioned inclusivity is adhered to. The EC has of late found that the six parties had sent their PR list wrongly violating the principle of proportional representation as mentioned in the constitution. Most of the parties have failed to enlist proper number of women or the members of the marginalised groups in the closed list of the PR category.
Another reason for the delay in the publishing the final results that would have paved the way for the formation of the new government is due unusual posturing and sparring between the Nepali Congress and the parties of the Left Alliance over the process to be adopted for the formation of the National Assembly. The constitution of the country has made it clear that the nation has two-tier parliament, the House of Representatives and the National Assembly. In the absence of one house, the idea of parliament cannot be complete. Therefore, the members of the both houses of parliament should be elected and the parties should send their names to the EC before the EC becomes able to declare the results of the parliament.
It has now become apparent that the National Assembly elections must be held first to enable the EC to declare the final results of the parliament. Likewise, the EC has made it clear that without parties sending the proper names of 33 per cent of the women representatives to the House of Representatives, it cannot publish the results.
All these constitutional provisions have led to the prolonged delay in the formation of the new government. It appears that it will take more than a hundred days before the winners of the majority of seats in the elections can be able to form their government by adhering to the fulfillment of the all constitutional provisions. Any failure to adhere to the constitutional process would invite another round of court cases. The dissatisfied people are sure to move court if the provisions are overlooked while forming the government.
The current delay is due to the cumbersome provisions in the constitution that has compelled the EC to follow the lengthy process in declaring the results of PR category. In fact, the unwieldy provisions have barred the EC in declaring the overall results of the federal parliament and the provincial assemblies formally.
Why is the electoral process of the country so burdensome? It is because of the provision of parties requiring following the proportional representation system at all levels of the elections. From the local to provisional and to the federal parliament, the proportional representation has become a necessary entity in our electoral system, which is not only time consuming but also will exert tremendous pressure on the country’s exchequer.
Billions of rupees have been spent for conducting the two-phase elections for the House of Representatives and the provincial assemblies. A total of 334 parliamentarians at federal level (275 House of Representatives, 59 National Assembly members) and about 500 members in provincial assemblies of seven states will consume lots of public money. Likewise, billions of rupees will have to be spent in setting up and maintaining the parliaments, ministerial secretariats and other new offices for the newly elected representatives and the government-appointed provincial administrators. In the meantime, the nation will need quite a number of employees to undertake secretarial jobs at the newly created parliaments.
These burdensome provisions are the creation of the parties and the leaders who have participated in the recently concluded elections. The political parties chose to include these provisions out of fear that if these provisions, especially the proportional representation system is not included, then they may lose their representation in the parliament, though they touted that the provision would ensure the representation of the groups belonging to the marginalised, women and backward region along with all ethnic groups.
Such a burdensome process in the constitution, which not only takes more time in declaring the final results of the polls but would consume billions of rupees must be corrected to make the next polls smooth and less expensive. The timely correction through the amendment in the constitution would be beneficial for all and it will save the parties and the EC from drawing unnecessary flak. The political parties, both winners and losers but who have their representation, must give a thought to address this problems.