- Feb 15 2018
Hopes are high in Nepal that soon the country will have its first democratically elected left-front government.
For almost nine months, Nepal remained in the grip of election fever — beginning from May 2017 to the first week of 2018. As per the constitutional provision of the three tiers of the elections at the Village Councils/municipalities, provincial assemblies and the federal parliament, the election of the 753 units of local bodies of Village Councils and municipalities were held in three phases on 14 May, 28 June and 18 September in 2017. Immediately afterwards, the elections of the federal parliament and provincial assemblies were conducted simultaneously on 26 November and 7 December. And more recently, on 7 February, the election of the National Assembly, the upper house of the parliament, has also been completed. Now hopes are high in Nepal that soon the country would have its first democratically elected left-front government, that had swept the elections not only in the federal parliament but also in six out of seven provincial assemblies.
Local level elections
At the local level elections, the Communist Party of Nepal — Unified Marxist-Leninist (CPN-UML) emerged as a strong force in Nepal by winning 39 per cent of the total 753 seats of the Chairperson/Mayor of Village Councils/municipalities followed by the Nepali Congress (NC) that won 35 per cent seats (Table No. 1). By securing 14 per cent seats, the Communist Party of Nepal — Maoist Centre (CPN-MC) emerged as the third largest force. Of the two main Madhesh-based political parties, the Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN) and the Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) won 4 per cent and 3 per cent of the total seats.
Table No. 1: Chairperson/Mayor seats of village councils/municipalities
|Political Parties||Seats Won in Local Level Elections||Percentage|
* Others, include RPP, Naya Shakti, Janmorcha, Nepal Majdur Kisan and independent
Before the local level elections were conducted, both the FSFN and RJPN opposed the elections in the country for the failure of the new controversial constitution promulgated on 20 September, 2015, to address the issues of the Madheshis, Tharus, Janajati and other deprived ethnic groups. Later on, under the mysterious situation, the Upendra Yadav-led FSFN participated in the local level elections against the wish of other Madhesh-based political parties. On the other hand, Mahanth Thakur-led RJPN boycotted first two phases of the local elections. But later on, it participated in the third phase of the elections in view of the growing mood of the party workers to participate in the elections and also after the government fulfilled part of their demands.
In the first two elections in which the FSFN participated in local elections, the party was largely rejected by the people in the same way as the Baburam Bhattarai-led Naya Shakti Party was rejected both in the hills and in the Terai. But in the local level elections in Province No. 2, the FSFN and RJPN made substantial gains.
Significantly, the results of the local elections gave a clear message to the two major communist parties of Nepal, the CPN-UML and the CPN-MC, that they are the major force in Nepalese politics. This was so because together the two communist parties had won 53 per cent of the total Chairperson/Mayor seats of Village Councils/municipalities.
Provincial and parliamentary level elections
Being buoyed with this result of the local units elections, the two communist parties entered into an electoral alliance in the first week of October 2017 before the provincial and federal parliamentary elections were held. They also decided that they would fight the elections with the common symbol of “sun” of the CPN-UML. Additionally, they also agreed to merge the two parties after the completion of the provincial and federal parliamentary elections.
The CPN-MC made an alliance with CPN-UML when it was a coalition partner of the Sher Bahadur Deuba-led NC government. Therefore, in certain quarters this was called ‘unholy alliance.’ There was a general perception that the alliance between the two major communist parties was the brainchild of China, which wanted to deepen its roots in Nepal by consolidating the strength of the two rival communist parties. 
Soon after the formation of the communist alliance, the NC also took the initiative to form a democratic alliance with two main Madhesh-based political parties — the FSFN and the RJPN. But this alliance could not work when the elections for the provincial and federal parliament were held. On the other hand, the FSFN and the RJPN which were at daggers drawn with each other during the local level elections soon realised the importance of the formation of the electoral alliance.
As per the understanding, the FSFN and RJPN fought the provincial and federal parliamentary level elections in the ratio of 50:50 in the same way the CPN-UML and the CPN-MC contested the elections in the ratio of 60:40.
The following table shows that the CPN-UML emerged as the largest political party in the country by winning 48 per cent of the total 165 seats in federal parliament, followed by the CPN-MC (22 per cent), the NC (14 per cent), the RJPN (7 per cent), the FSFN (6 per cent) and others (3 per cent). Together, the CPN-UML and the CPN-MC won 70 per cent of the total federal parliamentary seats. In the provincial assemblies, too, the CPN-UML won 73 per cent of the total 330 seats; followed by the CPN-MC that won 22 per cent seats, the NC (12 per cent), the FSFN (7 per cent) and the RJPN (5 per cent).
Table No 2: Seats won by political parties in Federal Parliament and Provincial Assemblies
|Political Parties||Federal Parliament||Percentage||Provincial Assemblies||Percentage|
Source: Nepal Election Commission
* Others, include RPP, Naya Shakti, Janmorcha, Nepal Majdur Kisan and independent.
Federal parliament results on FPTP and PR basis
In the federal parliament, the CPN-UML has emerged as the single largest party by securing 44 per cent of the total 275 seats based on FPTP and PR system together; followed by the NC that got 23 per cent seats, the CPN-MC (19 per cent) and RJPN (6 per cent) and FSFN (6 per cent) (Table No. 3).
Table No. 3: Seats won by political parties in Parliament on FPTP and PR system
|Political Parties||Number of FPTP Seats||Number of PR Seats|
Source: Nepal Election Commission & Ratopati.com, Magh 29, 2074.
* Others, include RPP, Naya Shakti, Janmorcha, Nepal Majdur Kisan and independent.
Provincial assembly results under FPTP and PR system
In the provincial assemblies, results of 330 seats under FPTP and the remaining 220 under PR system have been declared. Accordingly, in the seven provinces both under the FPTP and the PR system, the CPN-UML won 44 per cent seats; followed by the NC that won (21 per cent) seats, the CPN-MC (20 per cent), the FSFN (7 per cent), the RJPN (5 per cent) and the others, (3 per cent) (Table No. 4). Thus, the left alliance of CPN-UML and CPN-MC won 64 per cent of the seats; followed by the NC (21 per cent) and the FSFN and RJPN (12 per cent).
Table No. 4: Provincial election results under FPTP and PR system
|Political Parties||FPTP SEATS||PR SEATS||TOTAL||Percentage|
*Others, include Bibeksheel Sajha Party, RPP, Naya Shakti Party, Rastriya Janamorcha, Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party, Rastriy Prajatantra Party (Democratic), Nepal Sanghiya Samajvadi Party, Sanghiya Loktantrik Rastriya Manch and Independent.
Province-wise status of FPTP and PR seats
The following table shows that the CPN-UML and CPN-MC together got 71 per cent seats in Province 1; while in Province 3 they got 74 per cent seats. Similarly, in Province 4, 5, 6 and 7 they got 66 per cent, 70 per cent, 85 per cent and 73 per cent seats respectively. In Province No.2, the alliance of FSFN and RJPN got slightly majority of seats (51 per cent).
Table No. 5: Province-wise seats won by political parties under FPTP and PR system
|Political Parties||Province 1||Province 2||Province 3||Province 4||Province 5||Province 6||Province 7|
|CPN-UML||51 (55)||21 (20)||58(53)||27(46)||41(47)||20(50)||25(47)|
|FSFN||3 ( 3)||29(27)||-||-||5(6)||-||-|
|Bibeksheel Saha Party||-||-||3 (3)||-||-||-||-|
|Rastriya Prajatantra Party||1 (1)||-||1 (1)||-||-||1(3)||-|
|Naya Shakti Party, Nepal||-||-||1 (1)||1(2)||-||-||-|
|Nepal Majdoor Kisan Party||-||-||2 (2)||-||-||-||-|
|Rastriya Prajatantra Party (Democratic)||-||-||1 (1)||-||-||-||-|
|Nepal Sanghiya Samajwadi Party||-||1 (1)||-||-||-||-||-|
|Sanghiya Loktantrik Rastriya Manch||1 (1)||-||-||-||-||-||-|
|Independent||1 (1)||1 (1)||-||1(2)||-||-||-|
Election of National Assembly
As per the provision made in the Nepalese constitution, there is 59-member National Assembly, the upper house of the parliament. In this Assembly, 56 members are elected by an Electoral College comprising provincial assembly members, chiefs and deputy chiefs of Village Councils and municipalities and the remaining 3 members are nominated by the President on the recommendation of the government. Each of the seven provinces no matter they are small or big in terms of population elects 8 members for the National Assembly.
On 7 February 2018, there was the election of the National Assembly in which the CPN- UML won 48 per cent seats, followed by the NC (13 per cent) and the CPN-MC (21 per cent) (Table No. 6). The RJPN and FSFN got 4 per cent each in the Assembly. In totality, the left alliance won 69 per cent seats in the National Assembly.
Table No. 6: Seats won by political parties in National Assembly
|Political Parties||Number of Seats Won||Percentage|
Source: The Himalayan Times, 11 February 2018
With the completion of three tiers of the election at the local, provincial and federal levels, it appears that the country is finally geared up for implementing the constitution. While the local governments have been installed, the provincial and federal governments are likely to get due shape in next few days. With some of these developments, it is expected that there will be a stable government under the left front.
However, the success of the left front will largely depend on how it performs. If it performs rationally and is able to maintain balance in geopolitics, especially between India and China, it could work. But if it fails to do so, it could prove disastrous. In the past, apart from the monarchical institution, certain leaders in the country failed for their only fault that they could not maintain such balance.
Another threat to the left front could be from the same people who gave them massive mandate to rule the country. George Orwell once wrote, “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Image of many of the left front leaders are not so clean and given this reality, they could misadventure by indulging into corrupt practices. In such a situation, the democratic force led by the NC, the RJPN and the FSFN might not cease the opportunity to expose the left.
The Madhesh-based political parties, including the FSFN and RJPN, have already started exerting pressure on the left front to consider their demands that could not be met during the Madhesh movement in 2015-16. In fact, those parties won the elections because they promised to bring changes in provincial boundaries and making suitable amendments in the constitution to end the age-old discrimination with them. If the left front fails to reconcile with such forces, soon there will be political chaos. Therefore, the time has come for the left front to work judiciously by focusing on development and maintaining balance in geopolitics.
HT Correspondent, “CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre form alliance in Nepal,” Hindustan Times, 3 October 2017.
The views expressed above belong to the author(s).