POLITICAL CHAIR: Round Two

Nepal’s politics has entered into a new phase following the completion of the elections for the Constituent Assembly. However, political leaders are yet to guarantee political stability as expected by the people

Dec. 13, 2013, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 07 No. -12 Dec. 13- 2013 (Mangsir 28, 2070)

Although Nepal’s politics is apparently back on its normal course of power sharing, there is still a long way to go before the formation of the new government and beginning of the constitution writing process on a solid footing. Given the present domestic political scenario, the formation of the new government will be unlikely before February.

Nepal held elections for the second constituent assembly, five years after the first one failed to agree a constitution. Few expect the new assembly to be more successful in bringing stability, which means the nation of 27mn people is unlikely to see a quick end to its leadership vacuum.

“There is no way other than to make a compromise between Nepali Congress and CPN-UML, including Maoists. But we want a complete agreement on a package,” said Ishwor Pokharel, general secretary of CPN-UML. “If Nepali Congress wants to have its president, it must give up other demands.”

If the present disputes on the fresh elections for president intensify between Nepali Congress and CPN-UML and UCPN-Maoist led coalition continue to resist on their demand to form high level probe commission on Election, which Nepali Congress and CPN-UML are unlikely to accept, this will delay all the processes including summoning of the Constituent Assembly.

Along with the disputes, major political parties have started negotiations for power sharing. Although Nepali Congress and CPN-UML have emerged the largest party and second largest parties respectively, they cannot form the government without support from other parties. Both need each other or the UCPN-Maoist and other fringe parties to form a coalition government.

As it does not have the numbers in the CA to play a decisive role on its own, UCPN-Maoist is now creating an alliance of rainbow coalition of various parties so that it can bargain for powers with Nepali Congress and CPN-UML.

Although Nepali Congress and CPN-UML inked a three-point agreement looking for a long term political alliance and power sharing, CPN-UML and Nepali Congress partnership cannot last long as both the parties are competitors to populist politics.  

Similarly, UCPN-Maoist led coalition also has contradictions within. UCPN-Maoist, which demands fresh elections for president, is in a very difficult position to retain the coalition as most of the Madheshi parties in the coalition are opposing the elections for the post of president.

Although three major parties are still sticking to their own stands, they have agree to sit for negotiations. Nepali Congress has already held meetings with UCPN-Maoist and CPN-UML and UCPN-Maoist is holding talks with CPN-UML. Since no political party has a majority to form the government and a two-thirds to pass the constitution, compromises and negotiations are two ways to form the government.

CPN-UML is also in a hard bargaining with Nepali Congress. The party at least wants to retain the chairman of Constituent Assembly and lucrative cabinet portfolios and sharing of power equally before taking any major decision. Given the current political situation nothing can be ruled out.  

Although Nepali Congress and CPN-UML inked their three-point agreement aiming to end the current political stalemate, they are yet to find any compromise formula for power sharing and formation of new consensus government.  However, both the parties are stressing for consensus government, including the representatives of all political parties.

The two largest parties have also agreed to hold dialogues and negotiations with the third largest party UCPN-Maoist over the formation of the new government and constitution writing.  Although they have softened their stands, UCPN-Maoist is yet to give up its demands for the formation of an independent commission to probe the fairness of elections. Despite several efforts, political parties are yet to have a consensus on the coming political and constitutional agenda.

Possible scenario

Given the current situation, a new government is unlikely any time soon or before the end of January. Although Nepali Congress is claiming to form the next government, it is not sure it can. As Maoists have 75 members in the CA, it is a major power broker in the Legislature Parliament to make and break the government. In case of disagreement between CPN-UML and Nepali Congress, UCPN-Maoist support will be crucial. The political move will then begin to look different the next week.

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