April 13, 2024, Saturday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Electoral politics

The Nepal Weekly
March 26, 2024

With a glimpse of electoral politics in the country somewhat visible over a month before the by-elections in Ilam and Bajhang, the strength of the current ruling alliance could be guessed in a mature way. The CPN UML headed by former PM Oli has smartly declared its candidate for the seat occupied until death by former Speaker and Chair Person of Constituent Assembly Subhash Chandra Nembang. It appears the largest one in the ruling alliance did not feel it necessary to consult other parties for the decision on candidature for by-election because the Ilam-2 consistently voted for the CPN UML in polls held in different times after 1999. A former PM, a member of another constituent of the ruling alliance, looked willing to enter the House of Representatives through the by-poll in Ilam but his wish cannot be fulfilled because the ruling parties did not think it necessary to join hands for the by-polls. The other parties in the ruling alliance are also compelled either to follow the CPN UML or face polls on their individual capacity. Both do not appear great from a political perspective. They appear worried about their political strength in those two by-elections. Although two by-elections held after a year and a half of the general election cannot measure the strength of parties, they can show trends of popularity and people’s evaluation of their performance-level over time. By-elections, according to poll-Pundits, possess the power to indicate the direction towards which parties are heading. It helps strategizing for future, they assert referring to historical evidences. Opposition party Nepali Congress looks determined to go to by-poll all alone-somewhat mirroring the spirit that was expressed in a dominating way in its high level meeting recently. Depending on how situations evolve this week, some other parties will also come forward with a definite determination on whether to face voters jointly or in individual capacity. Whatever their decisions, the forthcoming by-polls in two constituencies of House of Representatives and in nearly 2 dozen local level seats would structure the shape of emerging electoral alliances of political parties in Nepal in an interesting way. If such alliances take care in respecting the dignity of electoral process and not disturbing the fair practice in the process, the country and people will benefit. If they seek to secure only the partisan interest, they can neither contribute to consolidation of democratic practices nor emerge as dynamic political force in the country. The final say in this regard is of course in the hands of those who cast ballots in the by-polls.