Nepal’s Political Solution: Out of Box Thinking (PART 2)
Shiv Om Rana, Ph D
I am not sure whether my previous article (Part 1) on the subject created a wide spread thinking in the people of Nepal about the viability of the present system of political dispensation – that is multi-party system as existing today. But it did kindle some responses from people which I got as comments and calls separately with bricks and bouquets, indicate that some people did read the new idea. And that was my aim in the beginning that people who matter, do begin to look at an alternative to the mess that Nepal is in today.
(“The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get the old ones out” – Dee Hock, the founder of VISA)
It was not my idea to start a discussion / debate between multi-party and two-party systems. It is a debate which can never settle. Both have their pros and cons. I wanted to bring in as to what is right and correct system of governing for the Republic of Nepal today. The idea was also to sanitize people and the leaders of Nepal to quickly get the grips of governance and adopt a constitution which gives them a long term political solution for the country for empowerment of its people and all aspects of development in the country. Simply put, it is to debate whether Nepal needs anarchy, monarchy or democracy. If it is democracy then there is no choice left for multi-party system in Nepal which has failed its people many times in the past.
It is in this context that I feel very strongly that only the two-party system which will create an irenic between the political parties and in the people of Nepal for the good of all.
I shall urge people and leaders of Nepal to take note of recent elections and consequently the delay in forming the government in these countries with the multi-party-system, UK and Australia. UK got a “hung parliament” in the recent general election in May this year with no major parties getting a clear verdict. In a democracy as old as that of Britain took many days to form an alliance of inconvenience between the Conservative Party and Liberal Democratic Party. Both had their different agenda and very uncomfortable at that. Take for example, Liberal Democratic Party wants very strongly, to have a Constitutional amendment in the system of election in UK. Whereas the Conservatives do not want any change in electoral system. To quote from the “Manifesto of the Liberal Democrats” – Liberal Democrats are the only party which believes in radical political reform to reinvent the way our country is run and put power back where it belongs: into the hands of people. We want to see a fair and open political system, with power devolved to all the nations, communities, neighbourhoods and peoples of Britain. Unquote. And the big negative of the coalition government is that the Conservatives have now agreed to go ahead with the national referendum in 2011 for the same to save the coalition and the government thereby.
Take another case of Australian elections of the recent past where it returned a hung parliament, both sides were four seats short of a majority, in more than 70 years. And even in the country like Australia where the democracy has matured and number of political parties are not more than 10, had to go through a 17-day political marathon to lead a minority government in a hung parliament. And the govt was formed with just one more than the required number in simple majority. Can the four Independent Members and a first-ever Greens member in the House of Representatives who helped form the Govt, be believed to have changed their support out of the patriotism, or for something in return, is every body’s guess. Can a govt formed in such circumstances be effective in such coalition and take measures which are tough but required for the nation, especially in such time of economy when it is reeling under the recent crisis of recession and trying to come out of it? And mind you, Australia has a de facto two-party system between the Australian Labor Party and the Coalition of the Liberal Party of Australia, National Party of Australia and Country Liberal Party. But the independents do make it to the House of Representatives. And they have made the major difference this time around to form the government. As saying goes in India they have been the King makers. (or Queen maker? – Julia Gillard being the Prime Minister. Pun intended!)
Take another example of state of Jharkhand in the neighbouring country India where multi-party system is in vogue. The state was bifurcated from erstwhile state of Bihar for better governance after the agitation of people who had demanded separation from Bihar on the plea of neglect by Bihar in Nov 2000. The irony is that Jharkhand has seen eight governments and twice the President’s direct rule through the Governor of the state in 10 years. That is the woes of state because of illiteracy and poor education. The so called leaders of the state have exploited the people and the natural resources of the state – much like the state of affairs in Nepal. That is because of an unclear majority of any political party in the state and thereafter horse-trading to form the government. That is all because of the multi-party system of democracy.
My argument in favour of two-party system of governance in Nepal is only in keeping with the changing style of electoral mood where multi-party system of democracy exists. It has not worked in old democracy in recent past, which I have just mentioned above. (in those countries there is a huge amount of education and literacy among voters and yet one saw fractured verdict. My argument in the Part 1). And I am convinced it will not work for Nepal as it lacks many such ingredients required for the vibrant democracy.
Nepal has more than 25 political parties, less educated voters outside the big towns, requirement of adopting tough measures to bring back the economy back on to rail, would require a government which can function for full terms without having to manage and worry for coalition partners.
What we require at present is nationalism and not regionalism. Multi-party system encourages regionalism which at this time cannot be afforded. Nepal today is staring at the future with the hopes of its resurgence as a republic clouded in the mire of self doubt and confusion. Political leaders are busy in catering for their limited constituencies. Maoists know it too well that they have lost their popularity and quite large section of their cadre. If student election of 2009 is any indicator, Maoist will lose substantial seats in fresh election. (Maoist supported Student Group could only get to 3rd position in the election, Nepali Congress and UML supported Student Group being 2nd and 1st respectively). Maoists have known that they have lost their sheen and appeal to the people and therefore they wish to stick on the presently elected majority. Recently media leaks of Maoist looking for huge amount of money to fund their chief’s election as the Prime Minister is no secret. There cannot be any smoke without a fire.
Recent observations of media of Maoist overtures to the erstwhile King and also Mr Padma Sundar Lawoti’s call for Royalist parties in favour of monarchy is a sign of political arena shifting to two-party system. I hope it becomes a reality sooner than later for the good of Nepal. Otherwise, as per the book “Unmaking of Nepal” by RSN Singh, there are only following three unpleasant scenarios left for Nepal. “Quote:
· Scenario A: A violent showdown between the Maoists versus the rest. The later will include all other political forces and the Army as well. As per my inputs, the Army is not inclined to interfere in the political happenings of the country, but if it continues to be humiliated and the situation in Nepal becomes untenable, they may well step up to salvage the country from the brink of collapse.
· Scenario B: A total Maoist takeover of Nepal with the tacit support of China.
· Scenario C: Split of Nepal into various entities.
I need only add that most institutional players in Nepal concur with these scenarios. Unquote.”
And I tend to agree with him.
Those wanting to improve democracies in their countries should not wait for permission. –Bulent Ecevit (Former Prime Minister of Turkey)
Teach this triple truth to all: A generous heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity.–Buddha