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Elections will make politics more unstable

Kamal Dev Bhattarai

Kamal Dev Bhattarai

Elections will make politics more unstable

Nepal has conducted seven parliamentary elections since 1959. But the upcoming election will be a historic one, in that it is the first to be held after the completion of parliament’s term. But as far as historic significance goes, that’s about it.

The first parliamentary election of  1959 paved the way for the formation of a bicameral legislature comprising upper and lower houses of parliament. That election, the Nepali Congress won the most seats (74) and its leader BP Koirala formed a government. The then Communist Party of Nepal came a distant fourth with just four seats behind the then Nepal Rastrabadi Gorkha Parishad and Samyukta Prajatantra Party. But the people’s elected government was short-lived, as the then king Mahendra wrested power from it and imposed the partyless Panchayat regime. 

After the restoration of democracy in 1990, the NC once again came to power through the 1991 general election. The main communist force, the CPN-UML, came a distant second. Since then, all elections have essentially been a two-horse race between the NC and communist parties. This is despite the emergence of new political forces, such as Maoist and Madhes-based parties, after 2006, and the start of alliance politics with the 2017 elections. 

The Nov 20 elections can be termed a direct contest between two sides because all major parties are contesting by forming two distinct alliances, one led by the Congress and another by the UML. 

The members in the NC-led electoral alliance or the so-called democratic left alliance are the CPN (Maoist Center), CPN (Unified Socialist), Janata Samajbadi Party Nepal and Rastriya Janamorcha. The UML, meanwhile, leads the second alliance, and its members are the Upendra Yadav-led Janata Samajbadi, the royalist Rastriya Prajatantra Party and other smaller parties. 

Bhojraj Pokharel, former chief election commissioner, says political parties are yet to get a full maturity, which means the capability to avoid provocation, develop more understanding and engage in logic-based decision-making. 

“Nepali political parties should first institutionalize themselves which means intra-party good governance, collective leadership, less factions and interest groups.” 

It was due to the lack of intra-party democracy that former prime minister and UML chair KP Sharma Oli dissolved parliament twice. 

Analysts say as long as intra-party democracy is lacking and several parties are running the government with their own set of interests and agendas, Nepal cannot achieve political stability.  

They reckon the November 20 elections too won’t deliver a stable government, as more than two parties are set to form the next government.  

An agreement between either NC and Maoist or UML and Maoist to lead the government on equal terms could sow the seeds of instability.  

Political analyst Bishnu Dahal says, as a single party getting the majority votes is slim, Nepal is on the course of yet another period of political instability. 

“In previous elections, political stability at least used to be one of the planks of parties. This time, they themselves have planted the seeds of instability,” says Dahal.  

1959 election 

Total seats: 109 

Nepali Congress: 74 

Nepal Rastrabadi Gorkha Parishad: 19 

Samyukta Prajatantra Party: 5 

Communist Party of Nepal: 4 

Nepal Praja Parishad(Mishra): 1 

Nepal Praja Parishad(Acharya): 2 

Independent:4  

1991 elections

Total seats: 205 

Nepali Congress: 110 

CPN-UML: 69 

Sangyuta Jana Morcha: 9 

Nepal Sadbhawana Party: 6 

Rastriya Prajatantra Party(Chand):3 

Nepal Majdoor Kishan Party: 2 

Nepal Communist Party(Pragatishil): 2 

Rastriya Prajatantra Party(Thapa): 1 

Independent: 1 

1993 elections 

Total seats: 205 

CPN-UML: 88 

Nepali Congress: 83

Rastriya Prajatantra Party: 20 

Nepal Majodoor Kishna Party: 4 

Nepal Sadbhawana Party: 3 

Independent: 7 

1999 elections 

Total seats: 205 

Nepali Congress: 111

CPN-UML: 71 

Rastriya Prajatantra Party: 11 

Nepal Sadbhawna Party: 5 

Sangyukta Jana Morcha: 5 

Nepal Majdoor Kishan Party: 1 

Independent: 0 

2008: Constituent Assembly elections 

Total: 601 

CPN (Maoist): 226 

Nepali Congress: 110 

CPN-UML: 103 

Madhes Janadhikar Forum: 50 

Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party: 19 

Sadbhawana Party: 9 

(Note: The remaining seats were won by fringe parties; there were 24 political parties) 

2013 Constituent Assembly Elections 

Total: 601 

Nepali Congress: 197

CPN-UML: 174 

Maoist: 79 

Rastriya Prajatantra Party(Nepal): 24 

Sanghaya Samajbadi Forum, Nepal: 15 

Madhesi Janadhikar Forum(Loktantrik): 14 

Rastriya Prajatantra Party: 13 

Terai Madhes Loktantrik Party: 11

Sadbhawana Party: 6 

CPN(ML): 5 

Nepal Majdoor Kishan Party: 4 

2017 Parliamentary Elections

Total seats: 275  

CPN-UML: 121 

Nepali Congress: 63 

CPN (Maoist Center): 53 

Sanghya Samajbadi Forum: 16 

Rastriya Janata Party Forum: 17

Rastriya Prajatantra Party: 1 

Naya Shakti Nepal: 1