EDITORIAL: Resolve the row

Considering the urgency, the Election Commission has urged the government to draft a law for the Upper House election

Results of the parliamentary and provincial elections have almost been out except for a few constituencies where vote counting is still going on. A complete election result will come out within a couple of days. With the returning of the votes almost over it has also become clear that the left alliance will form a majority government once the president calls the first meeting of Parliament. But it is unclear when the election of the 59-member National Assembly will be held as the previous Parliament could not pass a law related to electing the National Assembly. The previous parliament which was automatically dissolved on October 22, one day before the filing of nominations for the parliamentary election, could not pass a law to this effect as the major political parties were divided over which election systems – single transferable vote system or first-past-the-post system – should be adopted to elect the National Assembly members. According to Article 86 of the constitution, the president has to call the first meeting of the House of Representatives and National Assembly within 30 days of the declaration of the parliamentary results. This time, it is unlikely that the first meeting of the National Assembly will be called within that time as there is no law to elect the National Assembly.

Considering the urgency, the Election Commission has urged the government to draft a law for the Upper House election. The EC cannot hold the National Assembly election without having the law related to it. Eight members are elected to the National Assembly from each of the seven provinces with three women, one dalit and one person with disability or minority group and three others as candidates to the Upper House. The remaining three, including one woman, are nominated by the president upon the recommendation of council of ministers. According to the constitution, members of the seven provincial assemblies (550) and chiefs and deputy chiefs of the local levels (753) shall constitute an electorate college for the election of the NA. But the weightage of voting of the provincial members (48) and chiefs and deputy chiefs of the local level (18) shall be different.

The ruling Nepali Congress and CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre, both of which formed a left alliance and won majority of seats in parliamentary and provincial elections, are divided over the election system. If a single transferable vote system is applied even a political party polling lesser number of seats in provincial assembly and local level will also have their representation in NA as per their strengths. And, if the winner-takes-all principle is applied the party which won a majority of seats in both the provincial assemblies and local level can elect almost all members in the NA. This was the bone of contention between the NC and UML. The Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government has forwarded an ordinance electing the National Assembly on a single transferable vote to President Bidhya Devi Bhandari who is considering its constitutionality with constitutional experts who have also been divided just like the major parties. As the elections have already been held the row over the election system on NA should also be resolved amicably.

Open spaces

Open spaces in urban areas are dwindling alarmingly. These not only enhance the beauty of the cities but they help improve physical, social and psychological health of the city denizens. They also provide valuable breathing space sorely lacking at present. Parks and open spaces are integral parts of a city and more open spaces and

parks should be welcomed. Kathmandu has become a concrete jungle with very little open space and parks. This is also the case in many Tarai municipalities. Parks and open spaces are integral parts of urban landscape. They contribute by providing space for social interaction and recreation making the city livable.

Moreover, these spaces could serve as places for evacuation in case of major disasters such as earthquakes which the country witnessed recently. Their absence was sorely felt while carrying out rescue activities. Thus, in order to protect the little open spaces and parks we have the buildings being built should be required to provide a certain percentage as open space which many are not doing now.