May 24, 2022, Tuesday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Local polls: a must on time

Editorial

The Nepal Weekly
January 18, 2022

One duty political parties and the government must not fail to do at the moment is to ensure timely completion of rural or urban municipality-level polls. One crucial decision essential in this regard would be finalizing the date of local polls first at political level and then at government level.  Since the elections are linked with issue of continuity of the local government and since there is no provision for running local government without having validly fresh elected officials in place of the ones elected five years ago, the task is highly urgent. But unfortunately, the political parties appear not serious over the matter. They look more interested in determining the date as per their political convenience. While they are free to think about the best time for polls for their interests, they have a responsibility towards the cause of federalism and towards the continuity of local government as envisioned by the constitution. The ruling coalition itself is divided over the timing of local polls. The Maoist Centre and the NCP – Unified Socialist – want to delay local polls in hope that a belated election would give them more time to electioneer and win more seats. The opposition party CPN UML and Nepali Congress appear ready to hold polls on time as suggested by the Election Commission, which has demonstrated both will and dedication to complete local polls prior to the time existing office bearers complete their tenure of office. The EC has right on time asked the political parties to find a common ground for the local polls and it has begun consultation in this regard as well. The exercise should be appreciated and responded by politicos properly. Delaying local polls would create problems for the country at all levels – budgetary, decision making, planning and undertaking development works. The vacuum that delayed polls would create would not be helpful in governance and delivery of services to the public in any way. It would further complicate matters in times marked by COVID-pandemics. Moreover, Nepalis cannot forget the confusion and chaos at the local level prior to the introduction of federalism five years ago. The troubles people faced at the local level might repeated if the local polls are delayed this time. That is why political parties’ main duty today is to work out a suitable date for local polls. If they could do so they would be facilitating the EC, the main institution to ensure electoral process in the country. Political parties should understand that the timely local polls are in the broad interest of all in the country.