August Analysis: Federalism

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The upcoming federal house of representatives and provincial assemblies’ election is announced for November 20, 2022. With the election in hand the ruling political parties have already started to form coalition among the other parties and created a task force to determine seat sharing. For the upcoming elections, challenges lie in security management at the polling stations. Discussions have already been initiated on security challenges and implications that might impact upcoming general elections. The process to recruit the temporary police and deployment of additional security personnel in each polling both has begun.

Timeline of Major Events

DateEvent
August 4Date for upcoming election is allocated for the November 20th.
August 15Central security management committee held meeting starting the preparation for the upcoming election.
August 15Directives provided by the CIAA to make public service delivery to make efficient and effective
August 16Provinces stopped protesting against the federal government, after Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Dewa gave commitment to go ahead with the police adjustment after the general election.

Federal and Provincial parliament election progression:

On November 20, 2022, federal house of representative and provincial assemblies’ elections is going to be held in a single phase as announced by the election commission.275 members for the house of representatives and 550 member for the provincial assemblies are to be elected in the general elections. With the elections in hand, parties have already held meetings on forming alliances, as the local-level election, five ruling party are set to forge an alliance for the upcoming elections as well. The opposition party, CPN-UML, alliance with other parties with similar interest, if not, contest the election standing alone. Extensive discussion of central political parties is seen trying to form strategic coalition and alliances, whereas, less discussions are perceptible on the provincial level. The decisions are centrally made and a task force created at the centre level is to decide seat sharing at the federal and provincial level both.It still seems as though the three-tier government structure is relied on the central political parties and the essence of federal structure being decentralised is in the shadows. Observing from the local-level election many local level parties had denied the alliance from the central level and prerogative on coalition formation was provided for the parties at the local level, which was seen as an achievement for decentralisation of political parties as well. Likewise, the current government is highly criticised on the issues of failing to institutionalise federalism. This needs to be a core agenda to be addressed by the political parties, settling the debate of non-compliance of federal government to confer power to the provincial and local governments and co-ordinate and cooperate with them.

For the upcoming election the nominated candidates’ campaign must be people centric rather than power play. The local level election has already shown dissatisfaction of people towards the mainstream parties and elected many independent candidates as mayors. This is a proof of voters’ attitude being shifted from a state of status-quo. The next challenges allies for political parties to convince people on delivering their commitments will be a struggle, since citizens have the perception of parties vouching to things they never deliver, rampant corruption and exclusive government. Manifestos of the parties should be more realistic. Much of criticism was that the published manifestos were only available closer to the election date which left the public and concerned people with very little time to scrutinise it. The upcoming election for the political parties will have fair share responsibility of bringing committed leadership in the parliament and provincial assemblies, leaving behind the old practices as people have voiced the need of change in current state of affairs.

Security strategies initiated for the upcoming election

The office of Election Commission Nepal in Kantipath, Kathmandu. Photo: RSS

The preliminary discussions on security strategies for the upcoming election has already started. On August 15, 2022, a meeting chaired by the home minister Balkrishna Khand was held regarding the security implications and the requirement for security personnel’s’ to be stationed at the polls. The meeting formed a Central joint election cell, Home Ministry election cell and Province coordination and liaison cell. Also, central command post was formed to address the issues regarding security challenges during the election. As the voting for federal house of representatives and provincial assemblies are set to be on the same day challenges to coercion, manipulation, rigging on the votes, and irregularities are main concerns of the election security management committee. To maintain peaceful, fair and transparent election big numbers of security personnel are required to be appointed for each voting booths and more on highly security sensitive areas. According to the Nepal police, temporary police are to be hired by the end of October. For the federal and provincial level election Nepal Police has announced for 10 thousand more security personnel than the local level election and nearly Nrs. 8 billion has been provided to Nepal police for election security purposes. It is essential that fair amount of time is provided to recruit, manage and train the security personnel for the upcoming election. To maintain a democratic, transparent and fair voting atmosphere at the polling station reliable and strategic security arrangement is mandated.

The issue for voting rights of the security personnel on duty during the election was also raised at the supreme court through filing of a writ. The apex court, single bench of Justice Bishwamber Shrestha has provided with a verdict to enroll security personnel and staffs stationed at the polls, prisoners and detainees to be listed in the temporary voters list as to ensure freedom of expression and adult franchise.

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