Now is the time to be nostalgic. Was the election ill-timed as the paddy had not been harvested? Voter turnout of 61% was less by 7% this time. Was it because of old faces and voters boycott? Many wanted ‘Ramro not Hamro’ candidates. Though there was some improvement in election conduct, public demand for the option of ‘None of the Above’, as a voter right and one approved by our Supreme Court in 2014 was not still implemented. Such facility is available in India, Spain and Columbia. Another should be provision is ‘Right to Recall’ a MP for poor performance? Non- implementation of this is because of opposition by the major parties who consider it their birthright to rule over us people. Parties are scuttling essential demands because of fear of candidates losing. Sadly six police personnel lost their lives in the performance of duty and some public too in election skirmishes.
It is an accepted fact of life that changes are imminent processes that goes on all the time. The single embryo in a woman’s womb becomes a newborn goes through life in different stages and finally dies.
Politicians all over the world claim that they are special people capable of lording over others and in fact have done so all over the world! This has been commented upon by two individuals – one from US and the other from UK:
A Nepali version of this has been posted in FB.
The major battle cries of the Nepali electorate - ‘No Not Again’ or ‘Never Again’, signifying that all ‘Oldies’ over 65 should by shunted by the wayside was not fully successful. Many of the old ‘Used Diapers’ were re-elected. Perhaps neither the effort, nor the tempo was enough. What a pity.
A complaint is that our present system is nonsensical. A particular case in point is of a candidate, who shall remain un-named, was elected to parliament with just 9.58% of the vote. He however lost his deposit as this tally was below the 10% which was a requisite. Should there not be a clause that a candidate must have at least over 50% of the vote to win? If no candidate gets it, then an electoral run off should be done between two top contenders. Two recent examples from abroad are between Emmanuel Macron & Marine le Pen in France and Lula da Silva & Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil. Of course, having a second run-off election will be more costly.
The French have claimed that they are masters in the art of constitution writing having made seven so far. A recent TikTok going around states that Nepal has had seven constitutions in seven decades! A current feeling in Nepal is that the present setup with three tiers i.e. Federal, Pradesh and Local is too costly and that the Pradesh should be done away with!
Another thought is that the First Past the Post FPTP) system of the UK, copied by us is not suitable. Ms. Liz Truss, who was UK’s PM for barely six weeks is said to get Pounds 118,000 per year, plus many other additional facilities. Each of our ex-PMs not only gets lesser facilities for life and also has transport and security personnel for 24 hours protection. Whilst they travel, all autos on the way have to heed to the siren and let the let their cavalcade pass. Ex-PMs and Home Ministers take it as a God given right. Some even utilise army and police personnel for domestic and personal duties! Whilst such protection may have been pertinent at one time, it is no longer necessary. It can be always implemented during crises. FPYP system being unsuitable we ought to switch completely to the Proportional Representation System (PRS) which will suit us more.
That the people should elect a Head of State with executive powers has been voiced by many young Nepalis contesting the elections. An alternative opinion is for an elected Prime Minister with executive authority from among the political parties of the land. In provision with this members elected to the House of Representatives (HOR) or the National Assembly (NA) will not be eligible to become Ministers. They will be responsible for making the ‘Laws of the Land’ and work towards its implementation in their respective districts.
The elected President or PM will choose a maximum cabinet of 25 individuals with specific expertise in various areas. Such persons would be answerable to the members of the HOR and the NA during regular ‘Zero Hour’ in which there will be the gnashing and grinding of teeth. Whilst HOR representatives will be elected every five years, the NA will continue as now with six years term, of which one third being elected every two years.
The seat distribution in HOR of 165 on a population density basis will be retained. In districts with even representative numbers there will be equal number of male and female candidates. In odd number sites the candidate’s sex will alternate at each election. An additional 85 candidates will be chosen as per the PRS, making a total of 250 all. With the selected maximum of 25 ministers the total will come to 275 as now. This replaces the 165 elected and 100 selected as per the PRS.
Desirability is to enable voters to vote where they are, rather than to go where they were born, though there is less chance of false voting this way. This will ensure less individual cost and greater participation. Later one can even make it mandatory to vote. When Nepal is kept afloat by the one third of its population working abroad it is only right and just that Online Voting should be available.
We seem destined for a ‘Hung Parliament’. What will be the state of us people? All Nepalis hope for a better world, for as Victor Hugo has written, “The paradise of the rich is made out of the hell of the poor”. Lastly it is worth remembering the words of Charlie Chaplin who said, “Nothing is permanent in this world, not even our troubles”.
The author is a retired medical doctor and writes fiction under the pen name of Mani Dixit also. Website: www.hdixit.org.np. Twitter: @manidixithd