For stability

  • This bill is very important for holding three tiers of elections that are not very far off and there is little time to prepare for all these elections

The  parliament  Wednesday endorsed a bill related to the political parties that has imposed a three-percent threshold for the parliamentary elections as well as at least one seat under the first-past-the-post election system  for becoming a national political party. The electoral threshold would serve to ensure that there is political and government stability. There has been unstable politics in the country with frequent changes of governments and splits of the political parties one after the other following the two CA elections. There was politics for power and position that defiled the political system. This provision, however, means the party which wins Proportional Representation seats but fails to win even one seat in the FPTP in the election means that the party would be at a disadvantage as it would not be recognised as a national political party. According to the State Affairs Committee (SAC) sub-panel head, as such parties would not have the status of a national party the lawmakers would be treated as independent members of parliament. MPs from such parties would also not be provided with state facilities nor can they issue whips to their lawmakers.   It is generally seen that a lower threshold ensures many fringe parties representing Parliament while at the same time a higher threshold would ensure political stability. Thresholds help in balancing the representation in the parliament. This is especially true in a country like Nepal, diverse in ethnicity, geography, culture, religion and language, among others things.

However, we must realize that the major political parties of the country are inclusive in nature, so it would not require more parties to represent all sections of society. The bill was passed so that the vote threshold and one FTPP seat provision could address the anomalies that are evident in Nepal’s parliamentary democratic norms. The threshold is the  most disputed matter in the law relating to the political parties. The major parties, including the ruling CPN (Maoist Center), Nepali Congress and the main opposition CPN-UML as well as the RPP are for the threshold, but many other fringe parties are against it. The dissenting parties should realise that the new bill would be in the interest of the country as it would contribute to political stability.

Meanwhile, another key provision of the endorsed bill would be that more than one party can participate in the elections under a single election symbol. This would mean that like-minded parties could unite under an alliance that gives more chance of winning more seats than they contest separately. There is also another key provision in the bill which states that if office bearers of any party desire to split from the mother party they would require to have 40 per cent members of the central committee or the parliamentary party to support them. Previously, the provision was that the party could split if 40 per cent of the central committee members desired to do so. This bill is very important for holding three tiers of elections that are not very far off and there is little time to prepare for all these elections. The bigger parties should seek the cooperation from the fringe parties not happy about the turn of events.

Online directives

The government’s Online Media Operation Directive, 2017, which applies to registration, renewal and operation of online media, came into force on Monday. This will also apply to the print and electronic media houses too which want to run online news. For renewal, the online media have to submit a tax clearance certificate and an audit report. The Directive has also made it mandatory for the online media to pay their journalists at least as per the provisions of the Working Journalists Act. Any failure to comply with these provisions may deprive the media concerned of registration and renewal.

Whether print, broadcast or online media, they should be subject to a fair set of do’s and don’ts as their contents are used by the public. The journalists of the online media too will have to work under press accreditation cards and the matter published on the online news sites should, naturally, respect the restrictions imposed by the constitution, existing laws and Journalistic Code of Ethics. Otherwise they run the risk of losing the facilities provided by the government. The DoI will monitor the online media. But how effective the monitoring will be and how fairly it will be enforced remain to be seen.