February 3, 2017 12:40 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, Feb 3: With the passage of the fourth election-related bill in parliament on Thursday, the Election Commission (EC) now has almost all necessary laws required to hold the local poll.
Parliament on Thursday passed the Local Level Election Bill, 2017 with majority votes. This has paved the way for the government to announce the date for local level election under the new local set up.
The bill has various important provisions such as holding the local poll two months before the expiry of the term of the elected local bodies. Nepal held its last local elections 19 years ago.
The bill endorsed Thursday has a provision to make significant increase in the representation of women, dalits and other marginalized groups. Among other things, this also bars anyone convicted in various serious crimes including those related to caste-based discrimination, organized crime, corruption, rape and women trafficking, from contesting in the local level poll.
Of the total five election-related bills, four bills have now been endorsed by parliament so far. Earlier, the parliament had endorsed three other election-related bills, namely Election Offense and Punishment Bill, 2017, Bill Related to Voters' List, 2017, and the Bill on Duty, Responsibility, and Jurisdiction of Election Commission, 2017.
The Bill on Election Commission grants authority to the government to announce the date of elections in consultation with the EC, while the Election Offense Bill proposes three-year jail for major election-related offense, and even annulment of the candidacy of the guilty. The Bill Related to Voter's List makes it mandatory for a voter to have a voter identity card to cast vote. President Bidya Devi Bhandari has already authenticated bills on voters' list and election commission.
The remaining bill -- Bill Related to Political Parties -- is under discussion in parliament. The bill contains a provision of electoral threshold for political parties to become national-level party. Among the political parties currently in parliament, big parties are in favor of at least three percent threshold, while smaller parties are against any threshold.