Democracy and elections are two sides of the same coin. In general, an election is considered the backbone of democracy.
Without an election, a democratic society cannot practice democracy. US President Abraham Lincoln once said that democracy is government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Indeed, freedom and democracy are the main mechanism for selecting leaders or representatives of the people through a voting process.
In the context of Nepal, however, the electoral scenario is a bit different. Nepalis have a different perspective on the elections. Usually, the election period is like a fair in Nepal. The candidates organize great parties for the voters. Based on these lavish gatherings and the vested interest of a few, the public votes unanimously for this candidate, instead of trying to understand his character, background, future plan and policies for the society development.
Due to this greed and irrationality of the people time and time again voters failed to choose a wise leader for national development.
So how can an individual develop society by spending millions on an election? If he wins, he has a different plan, i.e. to recover the money spent during the election than for infrastructure development.
So how can people expect to see development and good governance by electing such representatives? However, we cannot only blame the political leaders. We, the public, are also responsible for the current situation in the country.
The way the Nepalese select their leaders is also bizarre.
We don’t see good character, rather we look for a candidate’s social status in terms of property and prosperity. You judge the book by its cover. According to a survey by Power Group, a research team led by young online bloggers, most Nepalis simply like momos for food and politics as their main topic of discussion.
We like to run after politicians.
This is why rallies organized by political parties are always crowded.
This shows that Nepalese people do not believe in action. We remember leaders not for the work they do, but for their speaking skills.
Often in Nepali society, political gossip helps pass the time. Commoners talk about the quality of speech delivered by leaders. There is no age limit in this political gossip, which takes place in tea stalls or local offices, where local political analysts analyze the current situation of the nation from different angles.
They mainly blame their opponents, their activities and their political principles while blindly supporting their political party.
In Nepal, although political parties have different beliefs and political principles, all leaders and their cadres unanimously respect the electoral system. It seems that they have a common goal in adopting the electoral method. The Nepalese electoral system totally follows the democratic principle. Whether under a system of direct election or proportional representation, the majority prevails on the basis of the votes obtained at the ballot box.
In fact, a free election is the only principle of democracy while communist states have nothing to do with such elections. But the communists of Nepal, who always criticize democrats and democratic elections, participate vigorously. They even formed a majority government. Unfortunately, the communist parties have failed to win the public’s trust.
Seeing the activities of political leaders, some people are raising voices against the political system of Nepal. These people blame the current political system for the collapse of the state mechanism. From high-level scholars to lay people, they hold the system responsible for all the ruin unfolding around the nation.
Indeed, the nation’s current situation looks exactly as they portrayed. This system has ruined the very structure of the nation.
If people study Nepal’s political system carefully, it is better than autocratic rule. The people are free to choose their representatives to govern them and the nation.
Nepal’s constitution also provides for elections to be held every five years. During this given term, elected officials are expected to develop the nation. But the culture and practice of the rulers and the people are not compatible with the requirements of the system.
By nature, a democratic system is free to choose loyal leaders through free competition. But unfortunately, time and time again, the majority of our elected officials are busy serving the interests of their own family, friends and executives.
After the election and tenure of the representatives of the people, one can see a huge transformation in the lifestyle of a ruler. Therefore, the activities of our leaders and the people prove that the beauty of democracy does not suit a nation like ours.
Thus, for overall development and good governance in Nepal, it should develop a strict, proportional, consensual and progressive representative system at minimum cost that can elevate the status of the nation. Moreover, the political system of the nation must adapt to society. He should study the character and nature of the public and the rulers.
In Nepal, we have adopted the Westminster style of governing the state. European nations are doing very well with this political system.
This is because their democracy has matured over time and suits their way of life and culture. But for us, it got out of control and unmanageable.
Our leaders and our people do not understand the meaning and principles of democracy. For us, democracy is a system of buying and selling votes.
For this reason, the current political system cannot pull the country out of the current slump of underdevelopment.
Therefore, for the overall development of Nepal, we must create our own political system, which can solve our problems. A system that can understand the structure, the nature of society and the psychology of people. Otherwise, the current political system will lead to the total collapse of all state mechanisms sooner rather than later.
A version of this article appears in the April 15, 2022 printing of The Himalayan Times