Editorial: Vote like a democrat
Even before up to 17.3m eligible voters line up to cast their ballots this Friday, a few inferences can be made. One is that the outcome of the May 13 vote will, to a large extent, determine the outcome of the forthcoming provincial and federal elections as well. In 2017, the local elections had suggested that the momentum was with the left coalition spearheaded by CPN-UML’s KP Oli. The coalition had captured 400 of the 753 mayor/chairperson seats—well ahead of Nepali Congress’s tally of 266. In the subsequent provincial and federal elections, the coalition bagged six of the seven provinces and garnered a near two-thirds majority at the center.
The Friday vote will also be a test of Nepali people’s willingness to overcome their bias. According to election analysts ApEx spoke to, around 60 percent of eligible voters are forecast to vote along party lines. But a surprise victory of a candidate from outside Nepali Congress and CPN-UML in a big metropolitan like Kathmandu, for instance, would signal a huge shift in the psyche of the Nepali voting public. The major parties will then be forced to rethink their plans (and tickets) for the two subsequent elections.
Do we the voting public really want meaningful and progressive social changes? The political parties have already cheated us by denying adequate number of tickets to women and marginalized communities. Yet unexpected wins for candidates of these communities will again force our major political forces to go back to the drawing board, to rethink their traditional way of ticket-distribution and electioneering. Overcoming communal, gender and political bias is never easy. But that is what we must do if a peaceful, prosperous and harmonious society is what we aspire for.
There must be clear signaling this Friday. The beauty of a functioning democracy is that if people speak, their representatives must listen. Vote then with a clear conscience. Vote for clean and competent candidates, even if you have to momentarily cross that inner Rubicon to do so. Vote to break the status quo.
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