How strong is the anti-incumbency wave?

Kamal Dev Bhattarai

Kamal Dev Bhattarai

How strong is the anti-incumbency wave?

If you visit cafes and tea shops around Kathmandu valley, you’ll find people who harbor a deep resentment against the incumbent political parties.

They say they prefer untested new candidates who can bring real changes. This sentiment among voters rings true across the country.

After the local elections of May 13, that saw the rise of independent mayoral candidates like Balen Shah and Harka Sampang, many Nepalis seem to be eager to do away with old, established parties and their leaders and vote for outsiders.

Even top leaders like Sher Bahadur Deuba, KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal are facing the heat of independent candidates. 

Analysts say realistically, independent candidates are not in a position of winning the elections against seasoned politicians, but they can surely change the course of election outcomes.

Political analyst Krishna Khanal says though anti-incumbency wave has become strong this time due to the failure of major political parties that have been at the helm of power in the past three decades. 

“True, a new political party will not sweep them away overnight, but it is high time that the established parties changed their ways, brought new agenda and allowed young leaders to drive the county,” says Khanal.  “The same old faces have been running this country since 1990 and they have failed to deliver. So, resentment among the public is understandable.”

Jagannath Lamichhane, an independent candidate for the provincial assembly from Kathmandu-5, says people’s response to independent candidates is encouraging.  

“People want to vote for outsiders but with so many independent candidates in the race, their winning prospects are low.”  

Khanal says major parties should take the recent surge in independent candidates as an important intervention and a lesson to correct their old ways. 

He believes that independent candidates cannot become an alternative to the political parties. 

“But there is certainly an important lesson that old parties can learn from the enthusiasm that the public has shown towards independent candidates.”