Kathmandu, November 17
Ahead of Nepal’s parliamentary and provincial elections, political analysts here are predicting a suspended parliament and a government that is unlikely to provide much-needed political stability to the Himalayan nation, sandwiched between India and China.
Two major political alliances are vying for the November 20 general elections – the left-wing, democratic alliance led by the Nepalese Congress and the left-wing, pro-Hindu-pro-monarchy alliance led by the CPN-UML.
The Nepalese Congress-led ruling alliance includes the CPN-Maoist Centre, CPN-Unified Socialist and the Madhes-based Loktantrik Samajwadi party, while the CPN-UML-led alliance includes the pro-Hindu Rastriya Prajatantra party. and the Madhes-based Janata Samajwadi party.
Political observers closely watching the November 20 elections have predicted that the ruling alliance led by Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba will claim victory in the parliamentary elections, with the Nepalese Congress emerging as the largest party.
The CPN-UML-led KP Sharma Oli (Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist-Leninist) will emerge as the second-largest party, although the alliance it leads is unlikely to gain a significant share in the new Parliament, they say.
Several new political parties and numerous independent candidates are in the fray this time around, posing a tough challenge to some of the established political party heavyweights that have failed to deliver on their promises.
“As things start to move now, one of the two pre-election alliances is likely to emerge as the largest post-election group. However, the government that will be formed by these groups is unlikely to bring much-needed political stability to Nepal,” said journalist and political analyst Dhruba Adhikay.
There is less enthusiasm among people about the election this time, said Rajesh Ahiraj, a political analyst who closely monitors Madhes politics in Nepal.
“Intellectuals believe that elections can produce a strong government, but it will weaken the country,” he said.
“The much-needed peace and political stability is a long way off even after the elections.” Madhes-based political parties such as Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP) led by Upendra Yadav and Loktantrik Samajwadi Party led by Mahantha Thakur are unlikely to gain much in the upcoming elections, he said.
“Among the two main Madhesi parties, comparatively speaking, the JSP will be in a better position after the elections,” he said.
“The majority of voters know the character of their leaders and the weaknesses of political parties, through different social media sites. Thus, the result of the elections this time will be very unexpected,” he stressed.
No party is likely to win a majority in the elections and it will take a long time for them to form a new government and even after forming the government through negotiations, stability is far away, he added.
On the foreign policy priorities of the new government, Adhikay said, “As far as foreign policy is concerned, the political geography of Nepal demands that the new government continues to have a balanced relationship with our two immediate neighbors (India and China) “.
“The chances of major shifts in existing policy priorities are slim,” he said.
However, Daman Nath Dhungana, former Speaker of the House of Representatives, believes that Nepal’s relations with neighboring countries will largely depend on how the new government is formed and who leads it.
“If the current ruling alliance continues, it will have certain foreign policy priorities and if the UML-led alliance emerges victorious, it will have other priorities,” he argued, adding “he some time ago, the UML-led government was working to establish a Xi Jinping school in Nepal. “The Nepalese Congress and the Maoists are united just for power, although they have different ideologies. Neither the neither the foreign policy nor the economic policy of the two parties correspond. Therefore, I am afraid that the new government will not be able to pursue a foreign policy suitable for Nepal. “In the past, our relations with India were more important and , in a way, India had a monopoly of influence over Nepalese affairs, but now the monopoly has come to an end, with global power China becoming active in regional affairs,” Dhungana said.
“The United States, a superpower, has also entered the scenario and in this situation we should have a balanced and effective foreign policy,” he said.
“Although India and China are equally important to us, India is much closer to Nepal because of its cultural and religious closeness and economic integrity,” he said.
Nepal should attract more foreign investment by using economic diplomacy to make the country prosperous, he added.
Voting for the twin elections in the Himalayan country will take place in a single phase.
More than 17.9 million people have the right to vote in seven provinces of the country.
Out of a total of 275 members of the Federal Parliament, 165 will be elected by direct suffrage while the remaining 110 will be elected by proportional representation. Likewise, out of a total of 550 members of the Provincial Assembly, 330 will be elected by direct suffrage and 220 by proportional representation.
The Nepalese Congress became the second largest party in the 2017 general elections with 63 seats and the Maoist Center became the third largest party with 53 seats, according to The Kathmandu Post.
The CPN-UML was the largest party in previous elections with 94 seats. The party splits in 2021.