Addressing democratic deficit

Published On: October 20, 2022 05:17 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

The elections to the House of Representatives (HoR) and provincial assemblies are just a month away now. Major political parties have forged electoral alliances or have agreed to support each other in the elections to secure victory as they expedite election campaigns across the country. While the Nepali Congress (NC) has forged an alliance with the CPN (Maoist Center) and the CPN (Unified Socialist), among others, their rival, the CPN-UML has agreed to contest the elections along with Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP) and Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP). What is surprising is the parties in the alliance are poles apart in terms of their political ideologies and policies and programs they have been advocating for long. As for an instance, the CPN (Maoist Center), which once termed the NC as a party of the bourgeoisie and even tried to decimate during insurgency, has now become a strange bedfellow of the NC. Likewise, UML, which regarded RPP as a vestige of feudalism and even fought against those elements right since its establishment, is now joining hands with the RPP that claims to have completely different sets of political goals and objectives than the UML. These unnatural electoral alliances show that major political parties are contesting the upcoming HoR and provincial assembly elections without any clear political agenda to solicit votes.

In any democracy, elections are meant to raise hope among the people that changes are taking place in the country. But in Nepal, elections are largely limited to mere formality. The unnatural alliance made among parties with completely different sets of political ideologies, policies and programs has proved that all that our political leaders care about is how to prolong their stay in power. It is probably the biggest irony in Nepali politics that the political actors who were active three decades ago are still at the helm of political parties. Of course, electoral alliances are made in other countries as well. But they are forged on the basis of basic political principles and agenda and key policies and programs. Questions are raised when such alliances are made only on the consideration of making it to the power. However, major political parties that have forged electoral alliances have failed to provide the people with the agenda as to what they plan to do after the election. Worse still, they are also effectively denying the people their right to vote for the parties they wish to by forcing them to vote for the parties whose political ideologies they never believed in. This practice is eventually leading the country toward a serious democratic deficit even as the country holds periodic elections.

Nepal is holding the second elections to the HoR and provincial assemblies after the country embraced the federal system of governance. The hard-earned federal system of governance should have shown some rays of hope to the people. This should have also brought tangible changes in the country. But that does not seem to have happened in the last five years. People in general seem largely disappointed with political leaders and are even advocating the restoration of the political system that was abolished. It is true that the democratic system that ensures the participation of people in the governance system is the best form of government. But when the actors concerned are guided by their vested personal and partisan interests, the political system, no matter how good it is, is under serious threats. Periodic elections that do not bring change or raise hope among the people cannot sustain democracy. It is high time our political leaders understood this fact and acted accordingly. Failure to do so is not only inviting their own political demise but also the system for which the people fought for decades. 


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