IDA OPINION POLL Majority Against CA Extension

At a time when leaders of some political parties are questioning the extension of the tenure of Constituent Assembly, an opinion poll conducted by Interdisciplinary Analysis (IDA) found a majority of people are opposed to the idea of extension <br>A

Aug. 23, 2011, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol. : 05 No.-05 Aug. 19-2011 (Bhadra 02,2068)<br>

CPN-UML leader K.P. Sharma Oli, Madhes based leader JP Ananda Gupta and NC general secretary Krishna Prasad Sitaula have raised objections to extending the tenure of the CA for another three months without concrete assurances from the concerned parties that they will draft the new constitution and conclude the peace process.

“There must be concrete agreements before any extension of the CA. Otherwise, there is no meaning in extending the term,” said Oli.

Nepali Congress leaders have also been expressing similar views. “Political parties must come out with concrete agreements on the extension,” said former home minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula.

Similarly leader of Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (Republic) and CA member J.P. Ananda Gupta also demanded assurances from major political parties that they would promulgate the constitution by the extended period.

RPP-Nepal leader Kamal Thapa even declared the end of the utility of CA and demanded fresh polls.

At a time when there is a growing resentment over the CA among political leaders, an overwhelming majority of the people , 42 percent, are opposed to the extension of the tenure of the CA. Among them, 36 percent demanded elections, 12 percent referendum. According to an IDA opinion poll, some 9 percent want even the revival of the rule of King.

Forty-five percent are opposed to three months’ extension of the tenure which was extended on 28 May 2011. On another question regarding who they will vote for in case of fresh elections, over 57 percent were undecided.

However, 10 percent said they will vote for Nepali Congress and 6 percent said they will vote for Maoists. Only five percent said they will vote for CPN-UML.

Polls Results

1. People identify constitution formulation as a priority People's response to many of the questions in the survey underscores constitution formulation as a priority of the public. In response to the question on the main problems at the national level, a sizeable proportion expressed their worry that the constitution will never be formulated. A majority of people think the country is headed in the wrong direction and they identify political parties being unable to formulate a new constitution as the primary reason for their assessment. A significant proportion identifies the government being unable to formulate the new constitution as the primary reason for their negative assessment of the government. Likewise, a clear majority identifies constitution drafting as the issue that should be prioritized by the current government, while an overwhelming majority identify constitution-drafting as the core peace process-related issue. These responses clearly underscore that the public sees constitution formulation as the number one priority. 

2. People would like the political parties to announce the date for new elections if parties fail to formulate the constitution within the extended 3-month period Almost twice as many people disagree with the 3-month extension than those who agree. The reason for their disagreement has to do with their belief that the constitution will not be formulated during the extended period. A clear majority is of the opinion that the CA will not formulate the constitution during the 3-month extended period. Three times more people think the CA should not be extended for another term – while 13 percent thinks the CA term should be extended, 42 percent thinks the CA should not be extended. In circumstances where the CA would collapse if its duration is not extended, 36 percent are of the opinion that the date should be announced for new elections for the CA. Compared to wave II, public opinion is gravitating towards this option and now a sizeable proportion would like the political parties to announce the date for new elections if they fail to formulate the constitution within the extended 3-month period.

3. High proportion of undecided voters

Though going for fresh elections is the preferred option, a high proportion of people, 57 percent, are undecided as to the political party they will vote for if new national elections were to be held. The proportion of undecided voters has gone up by 10 percent points compared to the previous survey. Only a small proportion of those who voted for UCPN (Maoist), NC, UML and other political parties have made up their minds for voting for those very same political parties if a new national election were to be held.   

4. Specific expectations from the peace process One of the core issues related to the peace process is the management of the weapon/arms of Maoist combatants/PLA. People favour managing the weapon/arms of Maoist combatants/PLA by handing these to the Nepal government (41 percent) or placing these under the control of Special Committee for Supervision, Integration and Rehabilitation of Maoist combatants (14 percent). Only 2 percent think that it should remain under the control of the Maoists.

5. Critical outlook towards federalism

This wave, as in the case with previous waves, underscores the public's apathy towards federalism. The mean support of the Nepali people towards federalism is 4.1, which is a rating that is slightly negative towards federalism. Likewise, those who report positive expectations from federalism are lower in proportion from those who report negative expectations from federalism.

6. Negative assessment of various organizations and institutions People have rated various organizations and institutions ranging from constituent assembly, to government civil service to political youth organizations unfavorably with most of the organizations and institutions receiving rates of less than 5, which is the average or neutral rate. Those to receive the lowest ratings are political parties, which received 2.6 and political youth organizations, which received 2.8. Those receiving relatively favorable ratings are the media - radio (6.5), T.V. (6.1) and newspapers (5.7).  The ratings most of the organizations and institutions in wave III is lower than what they had received during wave II. The relatively low rating that the public has given to the various organizations and institutions is consistent with negative assessment with regards to the direction in which the country is moving in.  

7. Relationships at the local level have not deteriorated Compared to 3 to 4 years ago, people report either an improvement in relationships or that relationship are the same.  Those reporting relationships between various people and communities to have deteriorated are very small. Though small, those who think that relationships between those who hold different political viewpoints and those who say relationships between relatively rich and relatively poor people in the area where they live in, has deteriorated compared to 3 to 4 years back, is significant (though those having this opinion are less in number than those who think it has improved). From this, it may be surmised that relationships between various peoples and communities have not deteriorated during the past 3 to 4 years.  

8. The feeling that "I am a Nepali first and foremost" is what unites the Nepalis at this historical junctureIt is not people's religious affiliations (whether people prefer a Hindu state or a secular state) or allegiance to the Republic (in contrast to those who still see a role for the monarchical institution) that unites Nepalis at this historical juncture. In fact these are divisive issues. What unites the people of Nepal is the identity of being a Nepali. The identity of being a Nepali transcends caste, ethnic, regional and religious identities. What wave III underscores is a growing trend in those who like to be identified as Nepali only. While those who like to be identified as Nepali only was as low as 52 percent in January 2008, it has increased steadily during the past few years to reach 71 percent in June 2011.     

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