A total of 137,043 people have filed their candidacies for 35,221 posts in the May 13 local elections: 3,276 for mayor, 2,009 for deputy mayor, 3,264 for chairperson, 2,296 for vice-chairperson, and 32,217 for ward chairperson. Similarly, 23,521 candidacies have been filed for women members, 21,221 for Dalit women members, and 49,239 for ward members. There are 17.7m voters—and 3.6m of them are new ones. There is a great deal of curiosity about the voting preferences of these first-time voters. Pratik Ghimire of ApEx interviewed 10 of them.
I am under pressure, including from my family, to vote for the candidate of a certain political party. Telling someone to vote against their will is wrong. So I am going to use my right carefully. I will compare all the candidates and vote for the progressive ones. I am particularly focusing on women candidates because they are capable too. It’s just that they are not given the right opportunities by political parties. Women candidates make only 10.4 percent of total candidates this time. It is a shame that our political parties are still not willing to give women the right opportunity to lead.
Kusum Pariyar, 19
Dhulikhel Municipality, Kavre
I am disgusted by Nepal’s political situation. The local level at least should be free of politics because we need representatives who can serve their communities. But the reality is different. The candidates want the mayoral post for their political parties. I haven’t found one good political candidate. A couple of independent candidates look promising, but the chances of them winning are slim. Honestly, I am not very excited about this election.
In the 2017 local polls, I went to my municipality’s polling booth with my parents as I wanted to see what voting looks like. I have wanted to vote since that time. Reaching a voting age means that you are now a responsible citizen. So I am excited. Each position in the local government has its own working area, power, and limits that have been beautifully set by our constitution. If elected representatives work within those parameters, I guess our problems will be solved. I will vote based on the strengths of individual candidates, not based on their political affiliations.
Sarishma Kafle, 20
Nijgadh Municipality, Bara
Last month, I took a training session on ‘voter education’. It taught me the importance of voting, and helped me understand my responsibility for the country’s future. I have researched every candidate contesting local elections from my municipality. I want to experience the election atmosphere in my hometown, so I am back here from Kathmandu for the polls. This is an exciting time. Some of my distant relatives are also contesting. I had never talked to them before, but I recently got their calls and they were asking for my vote. It is strange that they want me to vote for them because I am their relative. They didn’t even try to convince me why I should pick them.
Siddhant Paudel, 20
Kushma Municipality, Parbat
I am excited and nervous at the same time. I am not going to vote for the old, outdated candidates because they have been tried and tested several times and each time they have failed to deliver. I am supporting young candidates. This election is an opportunity to change old ways. Youths should lead at the local level. At the back of my mind, I also think, what if we elect young representatives and they too disappoint in the end? It is such a strange feeling but I am happy that at least I am being a responsible citizen by exercising my franchise.
Aaditya Baniya, 21
Birgunj Metropolitan City, Parsa
The past five years were a waste of time. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Birgunj had become a coronavirus hotspot, but the work of the local government was dismal. It showed that we were being led by incompetent leaders. I am looking for alternative candidates who can work on smaller but effective agendas like drinking water, transport, waste management, and parking. The big agendas of political candidates are all lies. I will vote for a social reformer who has already worked in my area, even though he may not hold any political position. They care for the community. Candidates fielded by the political parties are with the people only during elections.
After reaching the legal voting age, I started studying how democracy functions and the value of my vote. There are certain things I want from my candidates. While the majority of the people seem to be motivated by their political allegiance, I am looking at the vision and values that the candidates bring to the table. My single vote may very well get buried among thousands of others, but my wisdom counts as much as anything. I will vote for someone who stands out among the candidates.
There is a generation gap between our leaders and young people. Times are changing fast and these leaders are not adapting. I want to see someone who is young and competent lead my municipality and my country. I am familiar with the politics of Nepal and I don’t see any candidate worthy of my vote. Where do I show my disapproval of candidates? Why are political parties afraid of the ‘none of the above’ (NOTA) ballot option? It is high time that old politicians gave up their posts so that young people can lead this country. I am looking for a leader who can inspire this country’s youths.
We are just days from casting our votes, but I haven’t been able to find a worthy candidate with a clear vision and agenda. The candidates in the fray don’t represent us. They are here to serve their political parties. I was looking for a candidate who could assure the public with sound health, education, transport, and employment ideas, but there is no one. So I have decided not to vote and save myself from being a reason for the failure of this country.
I am eager to vote on May 13. I now have the responsibility of choosing the right leaders for my municipality and my country. I am also curious about the candidates, especially the young ones. I have been discussing the works and backgrounds of candidates with my friends to figure out who the right representatives may be. We are all excited about voting for the first time. I think I will this time vote for candidates with good professional backgrounds.