Unfounded fearsWith the completion of the first phase of federal and provincial elections in Nepal, political parties are now bracing for the second, and final, phase of the polls.
With the completion of the first phase of federal and provincial elections in Nepal, political parties are now bracing for the second, and final, phase of the polls. One of the most interesting features of these elections, among others, is that like-minded political parties have come together and formed their own alliances. If the political parties stick to this, it will certainly bode well for the health of democracy as it will substantially reduce the number of political parties and open up room for political stability. However, different sections of society have various opinions regarding the alliances.
Communism has changed
There are rumours in the political circles of Kathmandu—particularly in the so called Democratic alliance—that the Left alliance could capture the state and introduce political totalitarianism in the country. Such remarks are made primarily because the CPN (Maoist Centre), CPN-UML, and other fringe left political parties have come together. The reason behind such a sudden alliance is a matter of concern for everyone but it must be taken as a positive initiative because it has the potential to patch up differences between these parties and save society from an otherwise vertical division. ‘Communist Rule’ in the classical sense of the term has become a thing of the past. All the communist parties, regardless of the orientation and ideology they adopt, have expressed their belief in electoral politics and a full commitment towards democratic dispensation. Thus, the portrayal of unification as a potential threat to democracy is laughable and is nothing more than political propaganda spread for public consumption at a time when the partners of the left alliance in general and the CPN-UML in particular are committed both in theory and in practice to democratic values and human rights.
The internal structure of the CPN-UML is based around a democratic framework that strives to uphold the people’s interests and that of the nation as well. So the threat of political totalitarianism as a result of the Left alliance is unfounded and is nothing more than the product of a defeated mentality. The CPN-UML is one party that has introduced and implemented the concept of social security in the country at a time when many political parties in the past used to say that parties like UML have no respect for the senior citizens. With the passage of time this has been proved false. Economically, the CPN-UML believes in social and economic policies that help to uplift the living conditions of workers and poor people who are living in the far-flung corners of the nation. It believes in public-private partnerships.
Respect for the Constitution
More importantly, the CPN-UML deeply believes in the Constitution which in no way supports or promotes a totalitarian system in the country. It is in favour of a non-violent positive change in society. This precisely is the reason, among others, why the CPN-UML was the most popular party in the local elections.
Many believe that partners of the Left alliance are in favour of a Presidential System which would ultimately create an authoritarian system in the country, but this is not true. The Constitution does not mandate a Presidential System, and as the alliance is fully committed to the Constitution, they recognise that such a system is not possible at this juncture. Such a system will only be possible if the general Nepali public wishes for it, and it can only be achieved through constitutional amendment.
No doubt, there is a great deal of frustration towards the parliamentary system. This frustration is not particular to Nepal and is also evident in a number of other countries with the same structure. Specifically in the case of Nepal, these frustrations are growing because a parliamentary system has failed to prove beneficial in terms of promoting political stability. If such political instability continues, we may not be able to achieve the development and prosperity that we aspire for. In order to realise such progress, the need of the hour is political stability and we must not hesitate while trying to achieve it.
A political system is always decided by a political culture. The passage of time has revealed that Nepal’s political culture is not necessarily consistent with the parliamentary system. I am particularly in favour of a directly elected prime minister and ceremonial head of state, as it would balance the separation of power and provide measures of checks and balances.
Yadav is a former Member of Legislative Parliament and has also served as an Associate Professor of Political Science at Tribhuvan University