Website on Nepal and Himalayan Studies
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Schmidt's dictionary of modern Nepali
German Sherpa (pdf)
earthquakes hit Nepal on 25 April and 12 May
Ceterum censeo duces novas
Updated evaluations on crisis solution can be found here. Evaluations on other topics can be accessed through the headwords above.
days since Delhi agreement of political parties
links on the crisis situation:
10/02/2016: Truth and disappearance: The transitional justice commissions seem to have failed to meet the expectations of the peace accord, by Govinda Sharma 'Bandi' (kp), Homage
to Koirala: If leaders benefit from his virtues and become wiser from
his mistakes and weaknesses, it will be the best homage they will be
paying to their departed leader (ht), Congress after Koirala: Leadership void feared, by Anil Giri (kp) [Ideal
occasion to hand leadership over to a younger and more inclusive
generation! Else, the decline of the party will continue (39 percent of
the votes in 1991, only 25 percent in 2013)!!]
to a second CA took place on 19 November 2013, the
people were hopeful that the power struggles of the
political party elites had come to an end. Despite the
numerous and grave violations of the interim
constitution that paved the way to CA-II, the people
peacefully participated in the elections in never seen
One year has passed since elections to the second CA took place and hopes for a new constitution within the near future are shrinking once again. Leading politicians of the two parties in government, Nepali Congress (NC) and CPN-UML may still be claiming that they want to push through a constitution of their mind by two thirds majority vote. But the facts speak a different language. The current proposal of NC and UML has nothing to do with the big promisses made by the political parties in 2006.
The proposal of the government parties means more a continuation of the current single ethnic identity based central state and its transfer upon seven future federal provinces than the introduction of the promised inclusive federal state with equal chances and participation of all sections of society. The government parties reject the introduction of ethnicity based federal units as they are demanded by ethnic organizations and left parties, claiming that the future federal porovinces have to be of multiethnic character.
Yes, Nepal in its entirety is a multiethnic state as it has been first admitted by the constitution of 1990. But this reality exists only on paper. It is not reflected in the country's political, social and economic spheres. The status of the traditionally excluded groups of society (women, Janajatis, Madheshis, Dalits, Muslims) has not changed much after the political Bahun elites made big promisses in 2006. Their representatives are still hardly to be found in state bodies and commissions, leading party circles, diplomatic service, upper administration levels, judiciary, media, security services, education system, health services, etc.
What is national is still defined by culture, thinking and values of the Tagadhari castes. Every demand that does not fit into this system is automatically called "anti-national". It is anti-national, if Janajati and Madheshi activists demand for federal units, whose boundaries fit to historical ethnic mainlands, and for an identification of the provinces with the culture and language of ethnic groups. But the male Bahun party leaders call it "national" if composition and structure of the single ethnic identity based central state are transferred to the future provinces.
The Madheshi activist CK Raut has been arrested because he verbally demanded for an independent Tarai state. Such demand may be against the interim constitution but this constitution also guarantees freedom of opinion, and Raut did not call for a militant revolution. It is also against the interim constitution if RPP-Nepal, RPP and members of the ruling NC demand for a return to monarchy and Hindu state and reject secularism. But these activists don't have to be afraid to be arrested for their verbal demands and threats.
If the top party leaders really want an inclusive federal system then they must first start to listen to the demands and interests of the traditionally excluded groups. They must try to understand their cultures, languages and values and accept them as integral parts of Nepali nationality and history. And they must start to participate them in an adequate and equal way on levels of state and society. Most of all, they must participate them in the writing of the new constitution.
So far, only the male Bahun leaders of the bigger parties discuss and decide about the contents of the new constitution. Why, at all, has a CA been elected? The so-called "leaders" should have written into the interim constitution that the new constitution is written by them and then be presented for voting at an elected parliament.
A new constitution only makes sense if it provides a basis for an inclusive federal state that adequately and equally participates all sections of society independent of race, caste, ethnicity or gender. The parties are wrong if they claim that future provinces cannot be named after the traditional ethnic mainlands. The latter are also an integral part of Nepali history. Such procedure would not open the way to separatism, as claimed by a number of "leaders", but it would show that the ethnic groups have a place the country's history.
Administrative reforms by the Ranas and later by the Panchayat system have intentionally divided traditional ethnic mainlands. The boundaries of the future federal provinces have to reverse this historical injustice. The current proposal by the ruling parties misses this chance and tries to continue the anti-ethnic politics of the past. Besides, it is doubtful that this proposal will be passed by the CA with a necessary two thirds majority. Many Janajatis, Madheshis and Dalits from among the MPs of NC and CPN-UML have already distanced from the proposal of the party leaders.
So, most probable is either a further delay of the
promulgation of the constitution or a defeat of the proposal
of the government parties by voting. One should also not
forget that the two ruling parties together have got less than
50 percent of the votes in the elections of November 2013, in
other words, they do not represent the majority of the Nepali
to a second CA took place on 19 November 2013. The
Election Commission (EC) speaks of more or less peaceful
elections. The turnout of
voters of about 77.90% under the PR system and 74.65%
under the FPTP system has been a lot higher than ever
before in Nepali history. 4.96% of the FPTP votes have
been invalid as well as 3.2% of the PR votes. In 2008, the
figues had been 5.15% and 3.66% respectively.
Counting of the FPTP (First Past the Post) votes had been finished first. The UCPN-M that had won 50% of the FPTP seats in the 2008 elections is the big loser in the FPTP election this time. The winners under the FPTP system are the dominating parties of the 1990 political system, i.e. the Nepali Congress (NC) and the CPN-UML. Both parties together have garnered 82.5% of the direct mandates. Only ten parties have been able to win FPTP seats; it had been nine parties in 2008.
9,463,862 valid votes have been counted under the PR system. Altogether 30 parties win seats (25 in 2008); 92 parties win no seat (29 in 2008). The three leading parties of the FPTP system also lead here, but the absolute dominance of NC and CPN-UML has vanished. The NC is the leading party here as well, but compared to 2008 it has got only about 4.46% votes more. The CPN-UML has got 3.39% more than in 2008, while the UCPN-M has lost about 14%. The conservative hardline party RPP-Nepal, that stands for monarchy and Hindu state and rejects a federal setup of the country, has ended on fourth place winning about 23 PR seats. In 2008 it had won only four seats, the only MPs who voted against the abolition of monarchy in May 2008. Also the conservative RPP has slightly improved with probably winning five setas more than in 2008. NC and CPN-UML together have failed a two-thirds majority in CA-II that had looked possible after the FPTP counting. As in 2008, two independent candidates win FPTP seats, one of them being a NC dissident.
necessary in four constituencies because Sushil Koirala
and Sher Bahadur Deuba (both NC) as well as Madhav Kumar
Nepal and Bam Dev Gautam (both CPN-UML) had been
victorious in two constituencies each. These by-elections
in Kathmandu-2, Chitwan-4, Bardiya-1 and Kailali-6 took
place on 22 June 2014. This time, Kathmandu-2 where Madhav
Kumar Nepal had been successful in November 2013 went to
the NC candidate. The other three constituencies were won
by the same parties as in November 2013. This
means that the NC has now 197 seats in the CA and the
CPN-UML 174 seats.
final result of the elections to CA-II looks like
Non-inclusiveness of elected FPTP candidates:
Ethnicity of the elected FPTP candidates:
The multiplicity of Madheshi parties - their number has been 34 in these elections - has led to a decline of directly elected representatives from these parties in the second Constituent Assembly (CA-II). Five Madheshi parties have won 12 seats. In 2008, 3 Madheshi parties had won 43 FPTP seats. 13 Janajati parties have participated in 2013 (7 in 2008) and they seem to have failed as in earlier elections, probably also because of missing unity.
Janajati and Dalit parties (2008 and 2013 compared):
Definitely, it is far too early to ask for reasons of this election outcome. Probably, the reasons will be manifold. The great number of parties, especially with Madheshi and Janajati background, may have been an advantage for the bigger parties. Disappointment of unfulfilled promises of the winner of the 2008 elections, the UCPN-M, may have been one reason for their losses. The party's split, its denial of justice, its inability to introduce any of the promised and necessary social, economic and political changes, and, finally, its forgotten support of non-included sections of Nepali society may have been other reasons.
The attitude of NC and CPN-UML has not been better in recent years. The leaders of all three bigger parties have been responsible for the failure of the first CA. Maybe we must see the reason for the revival of NC and CPN-UML in the FPTP elections in the consciousness and democratic voting pattern of the Nepali citizens. In 2008, the people voted in great number for the Maoist party that had made big promises, while the other two parties had been responsible for the failure of the 1990 system. But the UCPN-M, besides many other failures, could not implement its ideas and promises. So, the voters returned to the other big parties hoping they have learnt. There is no reason to think so, but the voters, at least, gave them a new chance. This is democracy. The voters understand how it works, but the party leaders don't, neither those from NC and CPN-UML in 2008 nor those from the UCPN-M this time around.
has been a general trend in the voting behaviour in Nepal
ever since 1991. In the first general elections after
about 30 years of partyless Panchayat system, the NC
became the strongest party with an absolute number of
seats in the then 205 member parliament and a relative
majority of votes of almost 40%. After that, there has
been a continuous trend of voting for left, so-called
communist parties. In 1994, the CPN-UML won a relative
majority of seats and in 1999, it would have got more
votes than the NC for the first time, if the party had not
split prior to the elections. In 2008, the voters had
great hope in the UCPN-M and gave less votes to the
CPN-UML that had played a disappointing role under the
1990 system. The numerous communist parties together
already won an absolute majority of votes in 2008. This
trend seems to have been stopped for the moment.
An evaluation of the election results will take time. It already shows that the distinctness of the FPTP system has faded away after the counting of the PR votes, just as it did in 2008. As expected, the PR vote counting has been dominated by those parties that participated nationwide under the FPTP system.
The reason of the election has been to elect an assembly that shall write a new constitution. For this, it needs a two-thirds majority, and can definitely not be garnered by one or two of the bigger parties. This is what the parties will have to understand if the second CA shall be successful: Close cooperation and willingness for reasonable compromises will be necessary, but this is exactly what the parties have lacked in CA-I.:
number of voters:
On 14 March 2013, a new government (election council) has been sworn in by President Ram Baran Yadav under the chairmanship of Chief Justice Khil Raj Regmi. It is said that this government has been made possible by application of Article 158 of the Interim Constitution. Since this article requires the consent of the legislative parliament within one month, the president simply annulled this part of Article 158 for the time being, just as if this only representative president had absolutist powers.
As Regmi refuses to step down as chief justice, the separation of powers has been completely annulled. The executive parliament had already been destroyed by the top leaders of the bigger parties on 27 May 2012. But the Supreme Court (SC) had only decided that the Constituent Assembly (CA) could not be extended as the constitution writing body. It never mentioned that the CA also had to be abolished in its function as legislative parliament.
It would not have been any problem to revive the CA in this legislative function as active and former justices of the SC have confirmed on several occasions. It were the party leaders who were not able to bring the state back on a legitimate path by this most constitutional way.
has moved another step away from the rule of law. Not only
the top party leaders but also the president and the chief
justice disregard the interim constitution and subordinate
laws. Executive, legislative and judicative powers are
joined in one hand, that of the chairman of the so-called
election government. But the male top leaders of four
parties (UCPN-M, NC, CPN-UML and MPRF) have already made
clear that they will have the final control over the ongoing
processes. For this reason, a so-called High Level
Political Committee (HLPC) has been formed with
representatives from these major political parties. Its
task shall be to facilitate the election council and
resolve political problems. This may already mean the
death of the election plans since the leaders of the major
political parties have proved often enough that they will
never be able to solve any problems.
was to hold elections for a new CA on 21 June 2013. Since
this was not possible, the elections shall now take place
on 19 November 2013. The composition of this new CA shall
be reduced to 491 members,
by Shambhu Ram Simkhada (rep) (from
formerly 601). 240 of them will be directly elected, 240
through the proportional representation system, and 11
shall be nominated by the election council on the basis of
political agreement. The first CA had been by far too big
but the reduction of the proportional system from 60% to
40% of the elected
members is a further step back from greater inclusion.
Neither are the parties inclusive nor have they democratic
structures. Their almost exclusively male Bahun leaders
will never nominate the candidates for the direct system
in an inclusive way. This may be suggested by the interim
constitution and by the election law, but it is not
binding as in the case of the proportional system.
But not only the inclusive election right will be reduced, there are a number of other shortcomings that already call the elections for new CA into question. So is the right to vote still not guaranteed to all citizens of Nepal. This most prominently concerns, e.g., the traditionally excluded groups like Madhesi, Janajati, Muslims and Dalits, but also the descendants of Nepali mothers and foreign fathers. There may have been some legal changes in this respect after 2006 but they have never been really implemented, especially not with regard to the traditionally excluded groups.
Further, there have been a number of miususes of the first CA by the political parties, most of all by their so-called top leaders. Elections for a new CA only make sense if these misuses are prevented right from the beginning. One of the most prominent failures of the top party leaders has been the continued misuse of the CA for their political power games. Most negative has been the intervention of the party leaders into the constitution writing tasks of the CA. Not the party leaders but only the elected members of the CA had and will have to discuss and write the constitution. The inclusive election system only makes sense if they are totally free in their opinions and decisions concerning the new constitution and not bound to the will of the party leaders. The top party leaders have destroyed the first CA because they were not able to understand this system.
But the perspective must also include the time after the new constitution has been promulgated. The political parties should use the time to stand up for internal democracy, inclusion and transparency. Besides, they must turn away from their politics of impunity. The half-hearted ordinance for the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), as signed by the president on 14 March 2013, once again gives doubt that the party leaders will change. Nepal needs a completely new leadership within all political parties if the new beginning shall be successful.
(See full calendar with festivals)
democracy: Gateway to Nepali politics
South Asia Democratic Forum (SADF)
Foundation for Applied Political Science of South Asia (APSA)
Maya Med e.V., Verein zur Förderung Humanitärer und
Nepalprojekt der Helene-Lange-Schule, Wiesbaden