News / Asia

Nepal Goes to Polls to End Political Deadlock

A Nepal election commission officer carrying ballot boxes heads to a polling booth in Katmandu, Nov. 17, 2013.
A Nepal election commission officer carrying ballot boxes heads to a polling booth in Katmandu, Nov. 17, 2013.
TEXT SIZE - +
Anjana Pasricha
— Nepal holds elections Tuesday, hoping to put an end to a five-year political deadlock that has brought the Himalayan country to a standstill. A disillusioned people hopes the polls will put the impoverished nation on a path to stability and development, but there are fears the political drift will persist.

Twenty-eight-year-old Sunil Bhattarai has been working as a domestic in India because he could not find a job in Nepal. He had hoped to return to his country after 2008, when political parties promised a new beginning following the overthrow of the monarchy and the end of a civil war. However, in the last five years, the bickering parties were not able to put together a new democratic constitution for the country or move ahead with a development agenda.
  
Bhattarai is deeply disappointed. He said all political parties have dashed his hopes. He said poor people like him have seen no jobs and no improvement in their lives. 

Tuesday’s vote offers a second chance to end the country’s debilitating political vacuum by forming a stable body to frame a constitution. Nepal is presently under a caretaker government. 
 
A director with the Center for South Asia Studies in Kathmandu, Nishchal Pandey, called it a crucial vote.

“We have already had five prime ministers in six years. People are frustrated with 14 hours of power outage and poor law and order. It is imperative that our constitution is drafted and delivered on time. Political stability is the most important factor for this country. Our economy is in shambles,” said Pandey.

But Nepal’s fractured electorate, which resulted in a hung assembly in 2008, poses an even bigger challenge this time. That has raised fears that stability may once again elude the country.

There are nearly 100 parties competing for the 240 directly contested seats in the assembly.  Many of these are small, new parties that have sprung up in the last five years to represent a range of ethnic groups. Two mainstream parties, including the Maoists, who emerged as the largest group in 2008, have split.

The Maoists said they hoped to win these elections with a convincing margin. But that is unlikely -- their appeal as the party that represents the poor has waned amid accusations that they have succumbed to the trappings of power. 

Political columnists like Yuvraj Ghimire in Kathmandu worred that the situation may be even worse this time.

“During the tenure of first constituent assembly, they were busy scrambling for power than preparing the constitution last time. They have not given any proof that they are going to behave differently from last time. The bigger problem could be the house could be much more fragmented than last time,” said Ghimire. 

There are also concerns about how many of the roughly 12 million registered voters will turn out to vote on Tuesday despite tight security. The elections are being held under the shadow of strikes, violence, and a poll boycott by a clutch of opposition parties led by a breakaway Maoist group. In recent days vehicles have been torched and businesses shut by opposition activists. That has raised fears that voters may be intimidated.

“I see around my house virtually empty streets. There are no vehicles, there is absolutely nobody because of this strike call. But on Tuesday we would hope people will go to polling booths despite all this bomb threats and despite pressure not to go and vote,” Nishchal Pandey described the scene.

Some young Nepalese are hoping to change the system.  Fed up with the country’s political culture, 36-year-old Ujwal Thapa has jumped into the electoral fray and is contesting as an independent candidate from Kathmandu. He hopes to transform the system from within, saying Nepalese people want leaders, not “talkers.”

“People are just tired of political forces that actually over promise and under deliver. I believe this time people are looking at candidates backgrounds very carefully and voting along those lines,” said Thapa.

Caught between hope and despair, Nepal is looking ahead to the vote, hoping for the best, but bracing for more political drift.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: aayush niroula from: hong kong
November 18, 2013 6:15 AM
why has an indian writer, writing from india, been given to write about the elections in nepal, amalgating a complex dynamics of issues and people into "a disillusioned people hopes the polls will put the impoverished nation on a path to stability". so reductive and inauthentic.

In Response

by: Gyan from: Kathmandu
November 19, 2013 7:34 AM
Aru Pande is also reporting from Kathmandu no worry man :)

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid