NEW DELHI (12 December 2017) – Given Nepal’s mix of the first-past-the-post system and proportional representation, the final picture of its new Parliament may take some time to be clear. But it is already evident that the Left Alliance is on course to win more than 70% of the 165 parliamentary seats being decided by the FPTP system. In the 110 seats allocated based on proportional representation, the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) is leading, with its ally, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist-Centre), not far behind.
This is a decisive victory for the Left Alliance, the first such win for the leftists since Nepal turned democratic in 1990. The UML had also emerged as the single largest party in the local elections held earlier this year; with the Maoists joining them in the run-up to the parliamentary polls, the resulting alliance has proved to be ideologically coherent. The UML expanded its support base beyond the hill-towns and the Terai into the far-west and the upper-hills, while the Maoists, who had floundered in elections since the formation of the Constituent Assembly in 2008, got second place and staved off decline. For the Nepali Congress, the third-place finish is a severe blow, limiting it to its weakest parliamentary presence. Others in the “democratic alliance” led by the NC, the plains-based Madhesi parties and the former royalist parties that tried using the Hindu card, have also received a setback.
It is quite clear that the Left Alliance’s win draws from a yearning for a stable and lasting government after years of political instability. This is reflected in the fact that 13 leaders have held the post of Prime Minister since 1990. The Left Alliance has been seen as a natural coming together of like-minded forces which had both given up on radicalism and were willing to work within the parliamentary system. With such a big mandate, it is incumbent upon the alliance to finally focus on governance. Such transformative moments have been visible in the past too — during the initial sitting of the Constituent Assembly almost a decade ago when nearly the entire polity voted for Nepal to become a republic, or when the peace process between the Nepali state and the Maoists was completed, or after the earthquake in 2015 when political parties decided to quickly narrow down their differences on the Constitution in order to work together. But they all lapsed into more political wrangling. The Left Alliance now has both the opportunity and the strength to deliver on governance and development. As for the NC, the grand old party of Nepal has much to introspect on. It was blindsided by the formation of the Left Alliance and its own ragtag alliance was found to be wanting. It will now have to step up to play its role in opposition.
Editorial, The Hindu, India,12 December 2017.