Fringe parties against vote threshold to ensure seat for party in Parliament

We told the PM that PR election creates automatic threshold

Kathmandu, November 24

Leaders of the 25 political parties that have representation in the Parliament today met Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal and told him that there should be no threshold in elections.

The government had registered three election-related bills at the Parliament recently. Although the government-drafted bill does not contain any provision of threshold, some lawmakers of big parties, including the CPN-UML and the Nepali Congress, have registered amendment to the bill proposing certain threshold.

Tharuhat Tarai Party-Nepal lawmaker Gopal Dahit said the fringe parties’ leaders told the PM that fixing threshold for proportional representation election would be unconstitutional and against the spirit of democracy and proportional inclusion. “We told the PM that there should be no threshold in any election — general, provincial or local. PR election creates automatic threshold,” he added.

Dahit added that two Constituent Assembly elections were held without the provision of threshold, and there was no need for it now.

Khambuwan Rastriya Morcha-Nepal lawmaker Ram Kumar Rai told THT that the fringe parties’ leaders told the PM that there was no need to suggest threshold, as automatic threshold applies to the parties that contest under proportional representation election system.

It was because of automatic threshold that out of 110 parties that contested elections to the Constituent Assembly in 2013, only 30 parties could secure seats in the Parliament. A party that won at least 28,000 votes could win at least one PR seat last time.

Rai said if the major parties feared that emergence of too many fringe parties could pose threat to political stability, then they should accept the fringe parties’ proposal to go for directly elected executive chief and bar lawmakers from becoming ministers.

Rai said the fringe parties also drew the PM’s attention to recently passed lawmakers’ pay and perks bill. “The government should either pay enough pay and perks to lawmakers or should not increase their pay and perks at all,” he said and added that the newly passed bill’s provision of providing Rs 18,000 to each lawmaker as house rent allowance was far from enough.

“We all know how expensive the apartments in Kathmandu are.” “The major parties did not discuss lawmakers pay and perks bill in parliamentary panel neither did the Speaker discussed the issue at Parliament Business Advisory Committee,” Rai said and added that the bill was kind of imposed on fringe parties.

He said parliamentary regulations did not recognise fringe parties. “The whips of a party having at least 10 lawmakers get a government vehicle, a driver and fuel, but not of those parties that have fewer than 10 lawmakers. How can that be fair?” he wondered and said the big parties should not undermine the roles of fringe parties in parliamentary democracy.

Meanwhile, a press release issued by the PM’s secretariat stated that the PM told the fringe parties that he took note of their concerns and would discuss them with other parties.