Parties see fault in constitution

Surendra Kafle

Surendra Kafle

Parties see fault in constitution

Former President Ram Baran Yadav endorses the new constitution in 2015

The CPN (Maoist Center) unveiled its election manifesto last week, where it advocates for a directly elected president and fully proportional election systems.

With these propositions, the party says the current governing and electoral systems, embraced by the constitution, are hindrances to Nepal’s growth and stability.

And it is not just the Maoist party batting for a new model of government and election. Janata Samajbadi Party Nepal, too, has proposed the same thing in its election manifesto.

The Maoist Center and Janata Samajbadi have both suggested making amendments to the constitution to introduce presidential and fully proportional election systems.

The Nepali Congress, which takes pride in portraying itself as a staunch supporter of parliamentary system of government, has also hinted at amending the constitution in its manifesto to ensure balance of power and prosperity.

Constitutional expert Chandrakanta Gyawali says the talk of changing the existing government and voting systems in the election manifestos of these parties smack of the betrayal of the trust people have placed on these political parties.

“The parties have barely implemented the constitution since it was promulgated. Where did this talk about amending the constitution come from?”

Gyawali adds: “These are the same parties that endorsed the constitution and its provisions. They will be deceiving the voters if they are really considering changing the government and election systems, which have been barely implemented.”

The constitution was approved by more than 90 percent members of the Constituent Assembly in 2015.

Experts say the constitution is not even 10 years old and it has not been exercised properly to determine whether it is good or not.

“To change the system of governance, which was determined by the people of Nepal, will only invite instability. It is the political parties who need to change,” says Nilamber Acharya, one of the drafters of the constitution. “The parties are trying to hide their own incompetence by faulting the constitution and the system of governance.”

The Maoist Center has termed the current system of governance a failure and proposed amendments to the constitution to ensure political stability, peace and prosperity. It has also described the current mixed electoral system as costly and corruptible, which has caused disenchantment among the masses.

Other political forces like Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP), CPN (Unified Socialist) Nepal Independent Party have also claimed that the current constitution is limiting the country from achieving political stability and economic growth. RPP has called for a directly elected prime minister and scrapping federalism, while Unified Socialist has called for doing away with the mixed electoral system.

“These are impractical issues that should not be in an election manifesto,” says Gyawali. “An election manifesto should contain those issues that the respective party will do, or things it will improve in the next five years.”

Furthermore, in order to amend the constitution, a party must have a two-thirds majority in parliament, which not a single party contesting the November 20 elections is likely to secure.

Constitutional expert Bipin Adhikari says the election manifestos of the parties are removed from the current reality and the existing state of affairs.

“To amend the constitution, you have to have a strong government, the opposition should also approve of it, and, most importantly, there should be a popular mandate,” says Adhikari. “All these things are impossible with the way these parties are contesting the polls as electoral allies. They are simply trying to confuse the people with the talks about changing the governance and electoral systems.”