Stamps of approval

Published On: May 15, 2017 12:45 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

First phase of election 
No election in Nepal has been completely peaceful so sporadic clashes, likes the ones that took place on Sunday, resulting in the death of one person in Dolakha, were to be expected. But on the whole, the first phase of local election, with over 65 percent turnout, has to be considered a resounding success. People from all walks of life, and from every age group, enthusiastically participated. Particularly noteworthy was the sizable presence of young people (aged 18 to 25 years) as well as the elderly. It is often said that the young generation in Nepal is disillusioned by the democratic process, as it sees that our political parties, instead of working together for the country, endlessly quarrel among themselves for partisan gains. Likewise, the elderly were supposed to have been thoroughly disappointed as the representatives they voted for failed to deliver, repeatedly. But it appears that the flame of democracy in Nepal is still in full blaze, as people here seem to understand that as flawed as the system might sometimes appear to be, there is no alternative to democracy. As important, they seem to realize that they have a very important role to play in improving the quality of our democracy through this most important democratic exercise.

The first phase was also a perfect rebuke to those questioning the rationale of the local election without the settlement of the larger political issues. People on Sunday said with one voice that while they might disagree with some aspects of the new constitution, they would nonetheless like to see its prompt implementation, which currently entails holding all three sets of elections stipulated in the constitution within the next eight months or so. It is also kind of an endorsement of the constitution, with the belief that people’s chosen representatives will continue to update the charter to bring it in line with the changing needs and aspirations of the electorate. Judging by the tremendous response of the people to the first phase, there also can be no legitimate reason to delay the second phase. It would be criminal to deprive half the country of elected government when the other half is reaping full rewards of having local representatives who directly hear and address people’s grievances. 

Above all, Sunday’s healthy turnout suggests that people still strongly believe in the power of elections. They voted with the belief that ultimately, the only viable and democratic way out of the current political quagmire is through timely election. This is why the negotiating parties must now show utmost flexibility to make sure that the second phase is as successful as the first phase, and that it is held on time. As results start trickling in the next few days, those who win should show restraint and not engage in needless triumphalism. The losers, for their part, should be gracious enough to accept any result and to move on to the second phase. It would be most unfortunate if the results of the first phase creates bad blood among political parties and somehow affects the second phase. Meanwhile, our heartfelt congratulations to all those who voted on Sunday with the belief that they can create the change they want. 


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