March Analysis: Federalism

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Full-fledged campaigning for the local election is ongoing where many speculations and indecisiveness regarding the coalition of the different parties are seen. The 5-party ruling coalition government was in question whether they will continue with this coalition for the upcoming elections as well. At the end of March month, the recent Nepali Congress meeting established that a need-based electoral alliance will be forged in the local units. The unending political turmoil prior to forming the Nepali Congress-led government and the ratification of the MCC agreement recently had created a quandary in the formation of a coalition. Nepal is now looking forward to growing on prior 5 years-experience in the local government.

Timeline of Major Events

DateEvents
March 94 crore budget has been allocated for the locals affected by the Melamchi landslide
March 10The winter session starts for Gandaki Province
March 13CIAA has filed a corruption case against Siraha’s VDC secretary Keshab Ghimire and three others
March 16Government calls for applications for 100,000 temporary police for May 13 local elections.
March 21Four party alliance in Dhankuta, Province 1; Nepali Congress, CPN-Maoist Centre, CPN-Unified Socialist and Janata Samajbadi Party-Nepal
March 22In the meeting held by the Chief Minister and council of ministers of Province 1 have taken seven important decisions; namely, 3 public holidays were added, providing the grant to 21 severely ill persons, approved the amendment of the state Agribusiness Promotion Grant Rules, approved to submit the development project report and state academy bill.
March 31CIAA filed a corruption case against the Secretary of Likhu Tamakoshi rural municipality

Federalism and the Second round of election: Nepal is going at it headstrong

After 2 years of the promulgation of the federal republic constitution of Nepal in 2015, Nepal had officially adopted federalism and the first round of the local-level election was held in 2017, which had managed to fill up the gap of political representation in the local level. This was a milestone achievement for the government of Nepal as it was a local level election after two decades. Even though federalism in Nepal is still in its infancy and the elected candidates had to fill in many years of gap to institutionalize the government, five years of experience have been accumulated and optimism sprouts for the upcoming local elections. Since the government’s decision to hold the local election on May 13 2022 the political parties have started election campaigning.

Former ministers and center politics leaders seeking candidacy in the local elections

In the face of the election, former ministers of the federal government, former provincial ministers and leaders of the center politics have shown interest to enter the candidacy for the upcoming local level elections. Former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai stated that there is no barrier to seeking candidacy in the position and it is at the local government that a leader can work directly for the people. He himself is interested in the position of mayor for Kathmandu in the upcoming election. In the mayor position for Biratnagar, province 1, the candidacy of former federal minister Lal Bahadur Pandit, former provincial minister Jiwan Ghimire, and Central member of CPN-UML Guru Baral are seen.  From the People’s Socialist Party provincial health minister Jayaram Yadav, the head of the province Parliament representing the Democratic Socialist Party, Sachetak Parmeswor Shah and Congress Party Central member and former member of the federal parliament Amrit Aryal are few who have shown interest in the position of mayor at the local level elections. The contention for the leaders who are already in a higher position seeking a position at the local levels is that of the power and freedom of resource utilization. A rather positive perspective on the matter is that a group of experienced leaders will focus their attention on the people at the local level.  

Security and fair elections prioritized

Photo: RSS

The election commission in its provision in the new code of conducts outlined that the representatives of the local government body must resign before they submit their candidacy for the elections. This has received many criticisms from the opposition parties, especially the CPN-UML. It not only raises the issue of vacant positions in the local government during the election period but also creates contradictions in the provisions for the central government and the local government. Hence, in a petition filed by Nima Gyalien Sherpa, Chairman of Helambu rural municipality, the Supreme Court has issued an interim order not to instate the code of conduct until the next hearing.

Similarly, the government has established an integrated security plan to oversee the local level elections. It aims to maintain a peaceful and safe election process. For which, the government has also opened up 100,000 positions for temporary police to facilitate the local level elections. The vacancy has received 293,216 applications from 77 districts all over Nepal. It highlights one of the challenges of Nepal to curb unemployment amongst the youth. The highest application submitted was seen in Madhes province and the least in Sudharpaschim province. The selection priority is former security forces from Nepal police, the army and APF.

Evaluation of the Local Governments

Corruption cases filed by the CIAA throughout March have questioned the good governance of the local level. To name a few, CIAA has filed a corruption case against Siraha’s VDC secretary Keshab Ghimire and three others. Another case filed was against the Secretary of Likhu Tamakoshi rural municipality and 27 affiliated with corruption on an electrification project. This shows the seriousness of corruption at the local-level government. Though stringent laws to ensure transparency and accountability are available, implementing them and monitoring the local levels have been a weakness of the government.

As the next local level election approaches, the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration has directed all local governments to examine their successes and initiatives during the last five years. 10 subjects with 100 indicators had to be filled by the designated local administration to evaluate the progress during the 5 years tenure from the last local level elections as per the local level institutional capacity self-assessment procedure, 2077. Besides the 55 local level administrations, as many as 698 out of 753 at the local level have completed the evaluation. 22 local levels in Madhes province did not conduct the evaluation, whereas all the local levels in Sudurpaschim province participated. The Ministry of Federal Affairs has published the report on March 25, where Dhulikhel is at the top of its performance outnumbering 697 local levels that participated in the self-evaluation process. Despite some local-level institutions defied to participate, it is an overall achievement compared to the one carried out in the year 2077/78 in terms of participation in the assessment. The evaluation will also be an indicator for the voters to select their representation.

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Federalism

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