Eleventh-hour negotiations delay filing of candidacies

Published On: October 16, 2017 07:11 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Oct 16: It’s 8:30 pm Sunday. Three election officials are waiting at the Election Commission (EC) headquarters in the capital to register the name-lists of the parties’ candidates contesting the upcoming provincial and parliamentary polls under the Proportional Representation (PR) category from Province 6. When asked about the progress made in the job, an official who wished to stay anonymous saying that he is not authorized to speak to the media, said only three parties had submitted their PR candidate lists by then. 

“Altogether 82 parties have applied to contest the elections under the PR category. But so far only three have submitted the name-lists of their candidates,” said the official, adding, “We are waiting for the other parties to register their name-lists.”

The official informed Republica that only Nepal Workers and Peasants’ Party, Naya Shakti Nepal and Rastriya Prajatantra Party (Unified) had submitted the name-list of their candidates. Separate make-shift tents were set up on the premises of Bahadur Bhawan, the EC headquarters, to register province-wise nominations under the PR category. But no big party had approached the election body for candidacy nomination under PR category till 8:30 pm. 

Even after collecting the tokens from the EC to register their candidates, the top leaders of major political parties were busy in negotiation with their electoral allies. Top NC leaders, who were gathered at the PM’s Official Residence at Baluwatar to negotiate with Nepal Democratic Forum, had rushed to the EC headquarters only at 9 pm after the election body repeatedly called them to complete the nomination process. UML leaders were also busy in internal discussions. 

“It’s not sure when this candidacy nomination will conclude. We have not even had a chance to take our meals,” said another official assigned to deal with the nominations of Province 6. 

 The EC had asked the parties to complete the candidacy nomination within 5 pm starting from 10 am.  “Fifty-five parties have received tokens although their internal negotiations are underway on EC premises,” said EC Spokesperson Navaraj Dhakal informing that EC officials may have to work throughout the night.  

Parties complained that complex provisions set for candidacy nomination under the PR category have complicated the overall nomination process. “The provision of ensuring representation of all castes and communities i.e. Dalit, Khas-Aarya, indigenous, Madhesi, Tharu and minorities should be followed while registering the name-lists,” said Chanda Chaudhary, general secretary of Rastriya Janata Party Nepal, adding, “This has complicated the candidacy registration, making it difficult to complete it in time.” 

Failing to finalize the name-lists of their candidates contesting the polls under the PR category, the top leaders of major political parties were holding discussions on how to accommodate leaders by settling intra-party differences and abiding by the electoral provisions. 

Despite their efforts to form pre-electoral alliances, all major political parties were preparing to submit the closed lists for the PR electoral system. 

Even as the election body asked the parties to submit the name-lists of their candidates by 5 pm Sunday, the parties were queuing up to submit the name-lists of their candidates under the PR category till late in the evening. “It is still not sure how many parties will contest the elections under the PR category. We can confirm the names of the parties and candidates contesting under the PR category only by tomorrow,” said Spokesperson Dhakal.  

According to Dhakal, the parties need to submit the name-lists of their candidates by including various castes and communities as provisioned in the election laws. Shortly after candidacy nomination for PR category is over, the legal officers will examine to confirm whether the parties have submitted the name-lists of their candidates under the PR category. “After going through the details of the candidacy, we will point out flaws in candidacy nomination within October 22 and will ask the parties to correct the nominations in accordance with the law,” said Spokesperson Dhakal informing Republica that the parties will be allowed to correct the list until October 29. 

Unlike in the past, the election law has a provision for the parties to submit marked lists so that the EC can declare the poll winning candidates based on the numerical order of the lists. “Now onwards, they have to follow the election law and they cannot announce the winners randomly,” said Dhakal. 

The election law has a provision to field 110 candidates for parliamentary elections while 220 seats are fixed for provincial assembly election under the PR category. Parties need to submit separate lists for parliamentary and provincial elections. 

Willing to contest the upcoming elections, altogether 88 parties have applied to the EC. But the number of parties contesting the elections is expected to decrease after parliament endorsed a provision of 3 percent threshold and secure at least one seat in parliamentary elections to get the status of a national party. Various fringe parties have merged with major political parties after parliament endorsed the new threshold policy.

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