News analysis: Majoritarian rule may delay statute-making process

Kathmandu, June 27:

The majoritarian rule may delay the process of framing a new constitution because major parties will be obsessed with forming and removing the government of the day rather than framing a constitution that upholds national interest.

“There was no need to go for a majoritarian rule. South Africa’s African National Congress and Indian National Congress chose consensus over the majoritarian rule in the parliament throughout the constitution-making process, though each had a comfortable majority in the Constituent Assembly,” political scientist and professor Krishna Khanal said.

Analysts believe that the majoritarian rule will somehow prevent the parties from embracing progressive agendas as they will be obsessed with forming and removing the government of the day rather than paying due attention to issues of national interest.

“It seems that political parties are obsessed with petty politics. If this is the way the parties want to move ahead, they might not be able to frame a new constitution even in 10 years,” warned constitutional expert Dr Surya Dhungel. With the introduction of the majoritarian rule,

the non-Maoist parties, particularly the Nepali Congress, may feel they can topple the Maoist

government if it charts an authoritarian course.

The majoritarian rule might also trigger polarisation between left versus democratic forces at a time when no party commands a simple majority to form a government on its own.

Similar situation exists in the CA.

“Across the Tarai, Madhesi Janadhikar Forum supporters and NC cadres feel a bonding of sorts. UML cadres and Maoists also feel that kind of bonding,” Khanal said, pointing to the possibility of increased divide between left and democratic forces.

The majoritarian rule can lead to a situation where the parties will haggle over each clauses of the constitution, according to analysts.

“Other parties will be disgruntled if the Maoist-led government initiates radical land reform, comes up with industrial policies and goes for ambitious water treaties. This can affect the functioning of the CA,” Dr Dhungel said. This scenario cannot be ruled out as the Maoist leaders have been saying that the NC could come in the way of their plan to give the people a feel of change.

“As the parties are going to decide all matters through a simple majority in the CA, they need to identify what the transitional government can and cannot do and what will be the principle on the basis of which the new constitution will be drafted,” commented Dr Dhungel.

The majoritariann rule will put immense pressure on political parties to make a compromise on their democratic ideals and at times they might ignore politics of inclusiveness. If the political leaders monopolise the parties and do not pay heed to voices of disgruntled parties while making important decisions, party affiliates and CA members may defy party whips.

“Nobody knows what happens if CA members defy party whips,” Dr Dhungel quipped.