6.20.2017

An Ec-centric Look at the Nepal Local polls

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Nepal is a young republic: parliamentary democracy was introduced in 1951, but was twice suspended by Nepalese monarchs in 1960 and 2005. 
Political parties and social movements conducted a long determined fight for a democratic revolution.
In 1996 the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) started a guerrilla, mostly fought in the mountains.
The Civil War ended in 2006  with a peace accord and  in 2008 the Republic was proclamed.
Things have been a little messy from then on: bickering parties can't agree on a stable government and, as a consequence, making laws has been almost impossible. 
Unable to draft a Constitution in the stipulated time the Constituent Assembly was dissolved and new Political election were held. In 2014 the new Assembly nominated a new Prime Minister. 
Image may contain: one or more people, sky, grass, cloud, outdoor and natureIn 2015 the Constituent Assembly established a new Constitution, transforming Nepal into a federal democratic republic including seven states. 
The Assembly was transformed into a legislative Parliament and Bidhya Devi Bhandari was nominated as the first female President.
I know it sounds complicated, and it really is! but it looks also very interesting for an observer like me, coming from the exhausted European democracy. In Nepal in these days local polls are held for the first time in 20 years. Partecipation is large and enthusiastic, the main parties mobilised their militants in a demanding campaign. There are no fliers or tv spots here but crowded rallies, meetings and marches to reach isolated mountain villages. Political cadres often clash and candidates are attacked, especially when there is a strong rivalry. 
Image may contain: 6 people, crowd and outdoorPolitical belonging is pretty much a family thing, not a matter of programs. Indeed Nepali parties look quite similar from here: there are two Maoist parties, a  Marxist-Leninist party and the Nepali Congress party that's social democratic. There is also a Monarchic party, not very popular as you can imagine. Then there are a few local parties, expression of cultural minorities that are quite strong in some areas. 
Nepali parties are traditional organisations, with a solid popular basis and programs strongly oriented to basic problems like social equality and economic development. 'Light' opinion parties emerged in Kathmandu and other 'metropolis', proposing candidates who well represent the rich educated urban  youths. They are still marginal in the big picture of the mostly rural Nepal, but their request of a different approach can't be underrated. Corruption, personalism, authoritarism, distance from the young generation's needs are the weak points of the main parties, that look all rooted in a society that's already changing.
Women are deeply involved: a percentage of female candidates are required in the list for the local boards and a large number of women take part in the political meetings, young girls but also married women. Women in Nepal are still fighting to a real social equality but in politics they are a recognised subject, with several role models, first of all the President Bhandari. The use of children in the political campaign is forbiden by the election code, but it's very common to see kids waving political flags from a truck crossing the fields or taking part in political meetings looking like a village fair. 
Everybody has got a smart phone in Nepal, even in remote villages, even the old people, so sharing political posts is a part of the campaign, but as far as I get it, it's more about sharing pictures of events happening on real, where the excitement is recognising your friends or your place, or a famous one.
The local poll are held in two steps: on the 15 of May three 'states' voted, on the 27 of June the other four are scheduleted to, including the number 1, with Solukhumbu, and Lalit's father is candidated for the Nepali Congress. That's why he's very busy, and that's why I'm so well informed.

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