BY DR. RAJENDRA B. SHRESTHA
Nepali electorate has decided they want an end to political instability that has impeded development as a result of no one party winning a majority to form a stable government for the full term in the past. The new election results clearly indicate a comfortable majority for the coalition of left alliance (including nationalist and progressive), if not, a two-thirds majority at both the national and provincial elections.
The international best practice in a democracy is, for the government and the ruling party isto respect the electoral mandate and gracefully concede and pave way for smooth transition of the new governmentwithout any delay.The results have been tallied for more than a month, yet neither the Election Commission nor the government seem to havehonored the electoral mandate by making excuses based on legal loopholes that without a upper house in place the final results of the lower house cannot be made official. In the absence of which new government cannot be formed. People are appalled and dismayed at the same time. More delay in the new government unnecessarily means more uncertainties, delay in the national progress and is costlier.
Election Commission (EC) has successfully completed all the elections that have been credible and also attested by domestic as well as international observers. It deserves appreciation for the responsibility well undertaken. But as a constitutional body entrusted with holding and completing the election process in time and without giving into any pressure from the government (or elsewhere internal/external as is speculated in the media), it seems, it has failed to come up with credible excuses not to officially declare the election results of the lower house (which only matters for the formation of new elected government not the upper house) on time. This has unnecessarily delayed the formation of the new government mandated by the people and has cast doubt on the entire democratic process.
The EC has the obligation to inform all concerned (electorate, political parties and government) that the election of the upper house is a must and both houses should ensure one third women members before the elections to provincial and national election. The rules of the game should have been declared and conveyed in unequivocal terms to all concerned before the game is played and results tallied.This oversight on the part of EC have created confusion and delayed the process of forming the elected government on time. The EC is well advised to come up with completing the process of forming the new government without further delay if it is to restore electoral confidence.
With the results of the election already in, the government has lost both constitutional and moral grounds to continue on as usual. The government should resign immediately and make way for new government and refrain from making any decisions with long-term consequences and misuse of resources. The party leading the government will gain some of the lost credibility from the electorate if it adherers to democratic practice instead of projecting itself as power hungry party by sticking to government in the pretext of some of the constitutional loopholes. This will linger uncertainty and chaos unnecessarily in the formation of the new government for which Nepali electorate has given a clear mandate for the next five years.
Precedence of smooth and timely transfer of power already exists in Nepali politics.There was a smooth transition of government after 2048 election. No one loses, in the long run, if good practices of democratic values are adhered by all. The outgoing government does not have any moral and legal authority to unnecessarily prolong its life and make decisions against people’s verdict.
Alliance of Left Parties
The election results clearly prove that Nepali electorate favored left alliance this time and gave mandate to govern for the next five years. Now the onus is on the alliance to unite together as soon as possible and form the united party which will govern to deliver progress and prosperity to the people as promised in their election manifesto. The challenge is to come up withgood and lasting understanding on political, policy and organizational aspects that will ensure stability and equitable distribution of responsibilities. No time should be spent on bickering about individual interests and the process of unification should be expedited as soon as possible. Initially the UML seems to be more of a main stream party to lead a united party based on social democraticvalues.
The uniting parties cannot be swayed by efforts to divide (from within or outside forces), andcannotbe bickering about individual interests for position and power. It is time to look at the big picture and the pieces of the puzzle will fall in right places as they gain experience.
I am not sure if the democratic alliance led by NC has been formed as yet that can compete and challenge the left alliance. The election results clearly indicate that. Best thing NC can do towards reform is self-soul searching to analyze root causes of election defeat and to unite together to improve organizational efficiency including selection process, practice of democratic values and norms, and prepare a clear agenda to serve the people in the changed environment rather than be content with glorifying the past. NC over the years have deviated too far from the values of a social democratic party (as propounded by BP and Ganesh Man) and moved more towards right of the center.
Nepali electorate is politically mature and understands the realities of the present day world. I believe, the Nepali electorate is far more aware, knowledgeable and capable of making the right decision (more than political leaders may think and take them for granted) as indicated by the local and national election results.
Loud and clear messages are coming from the electorate across the nation. The Nepali people, are not going to buy false promises enshrined in the political manifestoes which has hitherto never been delivered.
Nepal cannot afford to waste its precious resources (financial, human and institutional) for politicking anymore. The new government should now focus on achieving the sustainable development goals and graduate Nepal to developing country status as planned without any further delay.
(The writer is the president of the International Center for Sustainable Development and Diplomacy (ICSDD). He can be reached at:<firstname.lastname@example.org>)
Stalemate in smooth transfer of power?
BY DR. RAJENDRA B. SHRESTHA