Fuzzy logic goes with transition Illusive focal event
Nepal has undergone three important political changes in the last two decades - “democratisation” (1990), “de-democratisation” (2002) and then again “re-democratisation” (2006). In retrospect, it can be argued that Nepal has been in transition from authoritarian monarchy for the entirety of this time frame. In spite of the three key focal events (King’s self-Coup of 2005 is part of his wresting control of executive): People’s movement I; King’s wresting control of executive power; and People’s Movement II - they provide but the outer boundaries of transition. Not the threshold of inner boundary when the transition gives way to democratic consolidation. As such democratisation has not taken off, when the transition has not tapered off.
Amidst all the flurry of political clamors and chaos that appear to seemingly derail the democratisation process - a major focal event has yet to be witnessed, from where various interest groups: either diverge, to provide yet another discontinuity (in the form of threatening political deadlock) and jolt to transition (say general mayhem); or converge, to provide a more linear continuity towards the end of transition (in the form of broad based coalition in power) and beginning of democratic consolidation (in the form of committed vigor to write constitution in time and hold elections). This, in essence, has created a fuzzy timeline where several events give hints of being foci of various interest groups, only to dissipate and eclipsed by other events that outshine the previous.
Some events look threatening to the point of beginning to create a wide sway in the metaphorical line of transition that it oscillates to the extreme.
Like the case of the retirement of Army Chief Rookmangud Katawal and the resignation of Maoist-led government. The oscillation appear to self-correct, like the relative ease with which the new government led by UML was formed — only to oscillate again, as the Maoist raise the spectre of renewed protests. Despite the oscillation, the transition is in its continuum — as various events that appear focal keep appearing and disappearing until the critical threshold is reached from where there is a clearly marked convergence of interest groups into a focal event (adoption of new constitution).
However, adoption of new constitution may yet bring with it a host of new agendas to be fulfilled before a decisive election could be hold under the new constitution. As the five amendments of the Interim Constitution 2007 shows not all groups’ interests converge into a focal event - even if the event looked focal! First the Madhesi and then the Janajati had to had their interest incorporated into the interim constitution before the Constituent Assembly election could be held. The then government acquiesced to various interest groups’ demands, including the Maoists, who did a total U-turn and started demanding various new provisions before the election could be held. As such writing and adopting of the new constitution may not after all provide that critical threshold where a focal event could be said to have occurred to finally see the beginning of the end of the transition. Even the election or elections (since Nepal is going federal) to be held under the new constitution does not guarantee its function as a “foundational election” of democratic consolidation. As the first election held in 1991, under the 1990 Constitution, proved inadequate to subsume radical politics into the democratic fold: hence, the ten-year conflict. The cyclical tenured election also does not reify the system - as the three elections held successively under the 1990 constitution proved feeble to institutionalize democracy. The glaring focal events then, such as the elections, in retrospect appear only events, not focal, in the long process of transition unfolding since April 1990’s political change. Against this backdrop, the transition could at once appear daunting and without track.
Provided for the geo-strategic conditioning, as is the usual control, there may yet be convergence at some point to continue on. Or a point of divergence, if the threshold of oscillation is not held by the elite political bargain, provided also the geo-politics does not have any bearing — which is unlikely. In the case of divergence, the state vacates from the public space and a social anomie onsets. Hints of which has occurred sometimes in pockets all over the country. A full blown anomie would
entail multiplex ethnic conflicts and eventual warlordism meriting the state’s unequivocal status as a failed state.
A point of convergence may yet be achieved despite various group’s interest (although crosscutting) incorporated in the constitution - however the point would still fall short of being the focal event of the onset of democratic consolidation. A few cycles of election,
each one being freer and dampening the radical agendas than the preceding one may collectively
provide foci of incremental move towards democratization. In essence we may
be asking for twenty to thirty more years of transition.