Big and small parties sharply divided over vote threshold

Published On: November 26, 2016 01:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Nov 26: Lawmakers from big and fringe political parties have stood sharply divided over whether or not to include the threshold provision in the election-related laws.

During deliberations on the three separate bills related to the Election Commission, political parties and voter list at the parliament's State Affairs Committee (SAC) on Friday, lawmakers from the big political parties insisted on provisioning a vote threshold of three to five percent for political parties in the general election. However, lawmakers from small parties opposed the idea of threshold stating that it would undermine the democratic values in the country.
NC lawmakers Ram Krishna Yadav and Ganesh Kumar Mandal; CPN-UML lawmakers Gangalal Tuladhar and Remeshwar Phuyal; and CPN (Maoist Center) lawmakers Rekha Sharma, Mahendra Bahadur Shahi and Rabindra Pratap Shah supported the idea of three to five percent voter threshold.
“Threshold provision must be introduced to regulate the political parties in the country. But the intention is not to bar the fringe parties from joining politics,” said Mandal of NC. 

“Political parties should come to a compromise threshold percent between three and five because threshold is a must for ensuring stability in governance,” said UML lawmaker Tuladhar seconding the NC's idea. 

 “We don't want to alienate the fringe political parties but I prefer threshold,” said Shah of the Maoist Center.

However, Prem Suwal of Nepal Workers and Peasants' Party, Shivalal Thapa of Janamukti Party-Democratic and Lokmani Dhakal of Janajagaran Party strongly opposed the idea of threshold.
“We shouldn't re-introduce the threshold provision, which was scrapped by the Supreme Court in the 1990s saying that it will undermine the spirit of multiparty democracy,” said Suwal of NWPP.

A commissioner of the Election Commission, Ila Sharma, accused the government of changing major provisions in the draft of the bill. She said that the commission had proposed that it alone should be able to fix the election date. “But the bill registered in parliament was changed to allow the government to announce the election date. Also a provision to provide grants to the political parties that secure over 1.5 percent of the total votes in the election, has been changed,” said Sharma.

Speaking at the meeting, Home Minister Bimalendra Nidhi urged the committee to endorse the bill without any delay. “The government is planning to hold the elections in the near future, so we expect the committee to cooperate by endorsing the election-related bills without any delay,” said Nidhi.

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