Preparing for the CA elections

The date for CA polls has been announced, but the security situation is still far from satisfactory. In the aftermath of Jana Andolan II, one has witnessed an inordinate rush to conduct CA polls but no effort has been made to educate the people on the nature of the elections. What is important is establishment of a system that expresses the aspirations of Nepalis.

But instead of creating a national consensus, each political party is jockeying for power. The Maoists appear to be taking over the reins of power to fulfil their own objectives, while

each member of the SPA is making every effort to maximise its gains. If political leaders sincerely believe in sovereignty of people, no major decision should be made without the people going to the polls.

The interim parliament is not an elected body though Jana Andolan II provides it some legitimacy. The only recognisable mandates of Jana Andolan II are an end to autocratic rule, return to a democratic set-up and deciding the country’s future through CA. These are the bottom line on which a future system must be constructed.

It is an undisputed right of the people to decide on the future political system through free and fair CA polls. But a free election is not limited to voting practices. Instead it embodies a whole gamut of considerations ranging from voting without fear, to the voting process itself. People have an inalienable right to vote the way they wish. Merely providing security at election time does not assure a free election. Rather a peaceful environment must be created well in advance.

Fair CA polls has several other connotations. The people must be exposed to all points of view to come to a reasoned decision. Unfortunately, politicians who stress the power of the sovereign people are also making every effort to restrict what people can and hear.

CA polls are being contemplated like a parliamentary election with myriads of contesting political parties. If the past is any guide, it is unlikely that any candidate in a constituency will get a majority. Will the decision of such minority winners on the republic issue represent the majority’s will?

A minority winner cannot be entrusted with this enormous responsibility. Hence, the CA elections should examine the system of a run-off similar to the practice in France and many east European countries. A run-off system legitimises the claims of full representation of the people in a constituency.

An alternative is the German system for representation in the Bundestag where proportional representation is based on votes received by parties. Both systems require a judicious evaluation. In the end the system that represents the voice of the people should be adopted rather than one that maximises the benefits of eight parties.

The current occasion demands statesmanship from the politicians. A dangerous precedence can create conditions for future turmoil. This generation has the responsibility of creating necessary conditions for a new Nepal with appropriate system in place for social equality and future prosperity. The entire nation must be involved in the CA that the final product, a constitution emerging from the CA, will be appreciated and preserved well into the future. For this, the process must be participative, educational and above all, free and fair.