Presidential Puzzle

In Nepal, the seven-party alliance of the left-wing forces is currently governing the country. However, it will face a fierce competition from the Nepali Congress during the presidential election.

By Dr. Qasim Sodhar | March 2023

The fourth presidential election of Nepal is scheduled on March 9, 2023, because the sitting President Bidya Devi Bhandari is going to compete her presidential term on March 13. Being the first female president in the political history of Nepal, she had earlier served as a vice-chairperson of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist. However, before discussing the forthcoming election scenario, let us have a brief look at the political structure of Nepal.

Although Nepal is a republic with a multi-party system and currently, there are seven major political parties in the country. Yet, two major political parties, namely the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal (UML), are not only rivals to each other, but they are succeeding parties in elections to each other as well. Before that, Nepal had remained under the control of monarchy system and was ruled by different dynasties. However, the Parliament, after a ten-year civil war, finally abolished the monarchy system, and the country was declared a ‘Federal Republic’ on May 28, 2008.

Another major achievement was the adoption of a new Constitution in 2015 and the holding of the first general elections in 2017. Though the Nepali Congress party was the largest winning party, which secured 89/275 seats, still, the Congress could not form the government. On the other hand, due to the formation of an alliance between different communist parties under the banner of the Communist Party of Nepal, which was a merger of the Unified Marxist-Leninist and Maoist Centre, they managed to form the government.

The forthcoming presidential election is going to be very interesting. There are a total of 884 votes comprising the House of Representatives, National Assembly, and all seven Provincial Assemblies. The Election Commission has also decided to hold elections for vice-president on 17th March, a day before the sitting vice-president, Nanda Kishor Pun retires.

It is evident by observing politics and the election process in South Asia that in most cases, political horse-trading and other tactics are used to secure the votes. Even in a country like India, which is considered the world’s largest democracy, such practices are reported there as well. The case of Pakistan is even worse in this regard, where it is not the people but the military establishment that decides which political party should have the reins of power. In this case, the seven-party alliance of the left-wing forces is governing Nepal, yet they have to face strong opposition from the Nepali Congress. Since the president will be elected by the Federal Parliament and the Provincial Assemblies, where the ruling alliance is in majority. Still, there is a possibility that from both sides the ruling alliance and the opposition will go an extra mile to get the support of the parliament and provincial assembly members by employing different tactics. At the same time, it is worth noting that since Nepal adopted a new constitution just 7-8 years ago and they have less experience for conducting elections, they may face issues in holding a free and fair election.

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