Nepal - Politics
April traditionally is a month of political ferment in Nepal, primarily for meteorological, rather than ideological, reasons. Protests are almost a springtime ritual here, and the scent of spring flowers in the air is typically accompanied by the smell of burning tires, as the warmer, pre-monsoon weather draws various groups out into the streets to vent assorted grievances.
A final agreement regarding a constituent assembly election was adopted by the political parties in December 2007. It elaborated a plan for an assembly of 601 seats—335 elected under a proportional representation system, 240 under a first-past-the-post system, and 26 nominated by the Council of Ministers. The election took place in April 2008, following months of delay and political maneuvering. Approximately 60 percent of registered voters cast ballots.
The Communist Party of Nepal–Maoist, which later became UCPN–Maoist, won 220 seats to become the largest party in the constituent assembly. The Nepali Congress captured the second largest number of seats with 110, followed closely by the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist–Leninist), which won 103. The Madhesi parties, collectively, captured the fourth largest share with 83 seats.
The final list of members elected under the proportional representation system was released on May 8, 2008. The members of the Constituent Assembly [CA] were sworn in on May 27, 2008, and the first session of the CA was convened on May 28, 2008. In this session, the CA voted to declare Nepal a federal democratic republic by abolishing the monarchy. Out of 564 members of the CA who voted, 560 voted in favor and 4 against the motion.
Historically marginalized groups around the country, radicalized by the Maoists in the decadelong insurgency, began to press with increasing intensity for their rights and a greater inclusion in national-level affairs. This movement was particularly pronounced among the Madhesi people living in the Tarai, Nepal’s southern plains. Unrest in the Tarai continued for many months, with periodic strikes, bandhs (shutdowns), outbreaks of violence, and the rise and proliferation of armed groups.
Elections - 2008
Some observers were concerned that widespread violence may return if the Communist Party of Nepal - Maoist (CPN-M), the group which waged a 10-year armed struggle against the former government of Nepal, felt its political agenda has been thwarted by political opposition in the Constituent Assembly. The Constituent Assembly elections of April 10, 2008, were a key step toward consolidating peace in Nepal and enhancing Nepal's democratic process.
The Constituent Assembly was elected to form the structure of the new government of Nepal. It was also confronted with the need to address economic development and ethnic issues. The Maoists would lead this process as they had the largest representation in the Constituent Assembly.
As violence associated with the former Maoist insurgency abated, intercommunal tensions mounted and at times become violent. This has been particularly acute in the Terai region where the Madhesi live. The Madhesi, or plains folk, seek autonomy to free themselves from what they feel is domination by Pahadis from the more mountainous parts of northern Nepal. The Madhesi added a new regional dimension to Nepal's struggle for political stability. A new threat to the political stability of Nepalemerged from a number of groups representing Madhesi in southern Nepal.
In August 2008, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Maoist) was sworn in as Prime Minister. Less than a year into his term, Prime Minister Dahal resigned from the government on May 4, 2009 following a dispute over his bid to dismiss the Chief of the Army Staff. On May 23, members from 22 of the 24 political parties represented in the Constituent Assembly elected veteran Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist Leninist (UML) leader Madhav Kumar Nepal as Prime Minister. Madhav Kumar Nepal was sworn in on May 25, 2009. On June 30, 2010, Prime Minister Nepal announced his resignation "for the sake of consensus" and to end the country's political deadlock following months of Maoist protests. On February 3, 2011, after 16 rounds of voting, Jhala Nath Khanal (UML) was elected Prime Minister; however, 6 months later on August 14, 2011 Khanal resigned from the government, citing the failure to make significant progress on the peace process. On August 29, 2011, Baburam Bhattarai (Maoist) was sworn in as Nepal's 35th Prime Minister, and the fourth Prime Minister since the 2008 CA election.
The CA could not promulgate a new constitution and dissolved on May 28, 2012,. It failed to finish the constitution drafting process despite repeated extensions, ending four years of constitution drafting. This created a constitutional and political void in the country until the Second CA was constituted. When the CA was dissolved there was a great disappointment among the population and some anger against political parties.
Presidential Election - 2018
More than 330 lawmakers from the Federal Parliament and 550 lawmakers from the Provincial Council are eligible to vote for president. The Federal parliament was formed after the completion of House of Representatives and Province Assembly elections in December 2017. There are also 59 members of the National Assembly who can vote, minus three nominees of the National Assembly whose appointments have been challenged at the Supreme Court. A total of 549 lawmakers from the Provincial Council will vote to elect the new president. The polls opened at 10:00 am and closed at 3:00 pm. Incumbent President Bidhya Devi Bhandari looked poised to win a second term.