Nepal has successfully conducted its parliamentary and provincial assembly elections. Except for some incidents of violence and one death in Bajura district, the November 20 polls were held in a free and fair manner.
And as the election results are trickling in, there is some information that can be gleaned from there. Through their ballots, voters are trying to give a loud and clear message to the traditional political parties that their three-decade of dominance could be over. Surely, the old established parties have realized this.
That there was just 61 percent turnout in this election—the lowest since 2008—itself suggests that the people are gradually losing their faith in the power of the ballot. Low voter participation does not bode well for democracy’s future, but one can still see hope in the fact that new parties and independent candidates are becoming increasingly popular.
They have posed an immense challenge to the so-called heavyweights candidates of old political parties. At the time of writing, several independent and new party candidates are ahead of the old-timers in vote count. In some cases, they have already clinched victory.
The takeaway here is that people, mostly urban youths, are frustrated with old faces. They want to see a new set of leaders at the helm of politics.
True, the two oldest parties, Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, are unlikely to face a major loss in this election, but they can no longer remain complacent.
They must either mend their ways or move aside. This is the message voters have conveyed to the big parties this election. A growing number of voters are unwilling to tolerate the non-performance of traditional parties.
The election will most likely produce a hung parliament and a coalition government will be formed. So it is important for the incoming government, its partners and elected representatives to come to a consensus to form a stable government for the next five years. They should also commit to allow the parliament to complete its full five-year term.
The new parties and independent candidates also have an important role to play. They have been placed in the position from where they can make a real change. They should honor the will of voters and not let them down.