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Risks of coalition government

Risks of coalition government
Nepali politics is gradually becoming synonymous to coalition politics and we are worse off for that. There is no single party in the country that has a realistic prospect of creating a government on its own.  It has been proven time and again that coalition governments are less pragmatic. We have all seen that coalition governments lead to political instability. A coalition government will invariably collapse and create the condition for re-election. It is unquestionably less effective, non-durable, and untrustworthy compared to a government constituted by a single party with defined principles and a distinct ideology. In case of a coalition government, the majority of ministers are nominated on the suggestion of parties. These candidates were never vetted for their competence and qualifications, and at the end of the day, it is the country that suffers. Another disadvantage of Nepal’s coalition government is horse-trading. Horse-trading in politics is often seen as unethical and unpleasant, and it should be prohibited. It is claimed that horse-trading occurs in order to influence a no-confidence vote.

True, consolidation of democracy sometimes necessitates coalition politics. This, however, is not the case in Nepal. Ideally, formation of a new government should promote qualitative advancement, notably inter-ethnic harmony and social concord. And coalition governments, which share power between two or more political parties, should encourage and contribute to democratic consolidation. It should contribute to the improvement of democratic institutions. These objectives are not being met by coalition politics in Nepal.

Most of the countries in South Asia have adopted the first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system, which was inherited from the British Raj in the Indian subcontinent. The single-member territorial electoral districts, where victory is guaranteed for the candidate who receives a majority of votes, have their own advantages and disadvantages. In a developing nation like Nepal, there must be a reasonable link between coalition politics and the advancement of democracy. Nepal has been heavily impacted by the subcontinent’s postcolonial political landscape. The underlying causes that have contributed to the establishment and growth of electoral and governing coalitions by South Asian political parties have had a significant influence on Nepal’s electoral system. The major political parties in Nepal have substantially adopted their democratic and public policy features. As in the rest of the region, the dynamics driving coalition politics as a recurrent character of government formation are prevalent in Nepal. Nonetheless, the question of whether the coalition administration has offered chances for ethnic minority representation to influence public policy making processes is relevant. Even if there is a slip-up in the electoral system, it cannot be removed by simply reforming it. The voters’ verdicts have determined the kind of the political candidates they prefer—the political parties mostly fail to apprehend the people’s sentiments, potential popular candidates, and election system and management experts. Party leaders have misused the election system to consolidate political power and financial strength since they do not select the right candidates. Nepotism and favoritism are rife in the candidate nomination process. It seems that the trend has become the core mode of politics in Nepal. After the restoration of democracy in 1990, politicians, election administrators and stakeholders have increased interest in elections. Everyone has started paying attention to the electoral reform process. In this context, it is natural to discuss what kind of electoral system is suitable for the land. There is no doubt that political stability is necessary for institutional development of democracy. However, what constitutes political stability has been the subject of intense research. Nobody disagrees with the reasons why our democratic system is not fruitful and sustainable, since almost all our elected governments in the past have been unstable. Not a single government since 1994 has been formed and led by a single party. And, as in other parts of the region, Nepali political leaders only concern themselves with winning elections, gaining political power and enhancing individual success in petty political ambitions that always lead to accumulation of wealth to ensure victory in the next election. They put aside all the common pro-people agendas and policies as long as they cling on to power. This scenario, therefore, convinces us that there is a real need for systemic reform in the electoral system in Nepal. Changing electoral systems is always risky. However, if we want the good of the country and the citizens as a whole, we must dare to change the system, improve the method and process. As the FPTP system failed to meet the requirements of relatively proportional inclusive representation, we adopted a mixed electoral system. Although some achievements have been achieved through this system, it has been seen and experienced that the representation has not been fully proportional, and the election has become very expensive and many distortions have been introduced in the use of the system. Not only this, there was not even a proportional representation of all classes, regions and groups in the elected bodies. So, changing our electoral system is an urgency of the time. The author is the PhD scholar at DIRD, TU  


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