Local Election, National Importance

Published On: February 22, 2022 06:30 AM NPT By: Dr Atindra Dahal

Democracy seems to delight people only as long as they feel they are getting fast, fair and free services from the local bodies.

Election is one of the buzzwords in contemporary national politics. The constitution of the country apparently obligates the government to accomplish elections of all three tiers i. e. federal, provincial and local level within this year. Election is the lifeline of democracy and the most major manifestation of the people’s sovereignty. Disputes among the ruling parties over the priority of different levels of elections seemingly caused dilly-dallying in the process. However, the government eventually declared the local level elections first, scheduling them for 30th Baisakh, 2079. This is an enormously delightful move since local level elections hold national gravity and importance, higher than any other elections, to the masses.

Federal and provincial elections reflect the strength and status of the political parties and set them for power-mongering competitions as well as vested interests. The conspiracies in making and faking the government will be easy. Powerful leaders may live a lavish life from the country’s hard-earned but capaciously-churched treasure. Albeit, that won’t help the people much. Such elections go further in distance than dealing with public concern. Indeed, the masses benefit more from local level elections, which have intimate connections and alignment with the public.

Close public connection

People do specially value the public service delivery from the local bodies. Those bodies are heavily connected with the day-to-day administrative activities and requirements of the masses. This is only the government that is an all-time accessible and approachable body for the commoners. Only federal or provincial elections won’t embody the beauty of democracy and federalism. The functionalism and dynamism of democracy will be measured on prompt and fair service delivery from such bodies and elected representatives. And all humans do need to receive more than 60 percent of such services in life-time from the local bodies. 

Competent, dependable and trustworthy local bodies shall glorify the gravity of democracy at new heights. Most of the development budget gets channelized there from. People pay various taxes and duties. Those local bodies are constitutionally autonomous and have sole responsibility to manage about 25 activities from school education to many more. Social security programs fall under their accountability. As a base administrative point, a local body records most of public information about citizens. Property tax should be paid there. Local government will be answerable and accountable initially for all activities happening within the area.

If such important bodies go vacant and don’t have elected representatives to administer and functionalize the offices, many problems may persist. Members of bureaucracy and personnel may unfold sheerly irresponsible and brazenly unhelpful conducts toward the public. Having elected representatives, local bodies will expedite the development activities, expel the irregularities and quash service disruption or jam. The utterly dishonest ethos of forming a fake consumers’ committee comprising relatives of personnel and presenting a false progress report for corruption as well as depositing the revenues in private bank accounts decreases. Such malfunctions were rife during the period of having no elected representatives. More than 80% of complaints at the Commission for the Abuse of Authority were reported of corruption scams at the local bodies, in some previous years. Elected local representatives should stay among the people and need to have sustained faith ahead for further politically progressing avenues. Thus, they seldom act wrong. However, officials who come from a distance and are designated there only for a fixed period, hardly chart the risk and correct the conduct in expected manner.

The commoners, throughout their lifetime, hardly visit the  provincial or federal capitals out of their own, unless they are compelled to seek service from the officials there. However, each citizen has to approach the local bodies many times every year for various services from local level officials. A report from Asia Foundation dated some years back has concluded myriads of malfunctions at the local level in the absence of elected representatives in the local bodies. A follow-up study on the same issue reported that 60 percent of such malpractices were corrected after the presence of elected representatives in the local bodies. The service-seekers were found perceiving standardization of service as well. Local bodies directly serve the people so they remain more commoners-oriented.

Along with overcoming the political gridlock, the public expects pace of development and ease in their own societies. Irrespective of the strength and stability of the central government, most people mostly get served by the local bodies. A book titled ‘Making Democracy Work’ by Robert Putman concludes accordingly. This is the prime beauty of decentralization and federalism. Thus, those bodies should always remain intact and impactful. Besides, local bodies even embody an unparalleled political shine.

Unparalleled political shine

Most citizens seldom know the leaders at the provincial and federal strata. The commoners barely build any assumption on them. Public mindset on politics is largely framed on the basis of public service delivery by the local bodies, with whom they have to be constantly in touch. Thus, citizens also prioritize local level elections. A recent research titled ‘Democracy at Local Level’ from International IDEA, Sweden, reflects 20 to 30 percent higher public consciousness and priority to local elections than of other levels.

People have the privilege of an extensive franchise in local elections. A voter casts his/her votes to seven candidates in total. Among them, three ought to be mandatorily females. It, thus, exponentially expands the sphere of inclusivity and proportionate representation as well. Having many options, people can co-adjust their cross-cutting preferences too. Presenting many aspirants as candidates at local elections, provides the political parties the ease to select candidates for other elections. Intraparty feud and foul may be minimized; party harmony will have an increasing curve. Such intra-party harmony noticeably nurtures the advanced political culture.

Local elections heighten political awareness among the public. Having many candidates facilitates them for intensive discussions and updates. Visibly, voters shall be oriented a lot and valued high. Sometimes, voters cross the party panel to elect a specific candidate, thus proving that citizens are more habituated to elect by evaluating competence of individual candidates than relying on the core partisan affiliation. Parties will have lessons to assimilate the real popularity chart and can redesign the strategies for upcoming elections.

Local bodies are permanent governments and undergo no mid-way changes like provincial and federal governments. Public can showcase better collective bargaining power with the local governments compared to other forms of government. Thus, elections other than those for the local bodies reap no rich dividend for the people. Nor do they award any significant achievement at the end of commoners in terms of serving them well. Strong local bodies always expectedly and empathetically serve the people at large even if higher political portfolios are dysfunctional and defunct. Democracy seems to delight people only as long as they feel they are getting fast, fair and free services from the local bodies. Hence, though local, this election holds national gravity and importance to both people and politics, respectively.


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