Electoral/Political Party Reform: Comprehensive Peace Agreement
3.2. To constitute Interim Legislature - Parliament as per the Interim Constitution, to have the elections to Constituent Assembly held by the Interim Government in a free and fair manner within June 15, 2007 and to practically guarantee sovereignty inherent in the Nepali people.
3.4. To pursue a political system that fully complies with the universally accepted fundamental human rights, competitive multiparty democratic system, sovereignty inherent in the people and the supremacy of the people, constitutional check and balance, rule of law, social justice and equality, independent judiciary, periodic elections, monitoring by civil society, complete press freedom, peopleâ€™s right to information, transparency and accountability in the activities of political parties, people's participation and the concepts of impartial, competent, and fair administration.
The November 2006 CPA called for the establishment of Constituent Assembly elections and a competitive multiparty democratic system. As such, the Maoists were expected to allow their combatants to be assembled in the cantonments and participate in the Constituent Assembly (CA) elections. However, these reforms did not take place in 2006 because the promulgation of the interim constitution was delayed.
The interim constitution was promulgated on 15 January 2007. The constitution allowed for an interim parliament to meet until the CA elections. The constitution also made it very clear that there will be no restrictions on the number of political parties. The provisions regarding the Constituent Assembly read as follows:
PART 7: CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY
63. Formation of the Constituent Assembly: (1) There shall be a Constituent Assembly constituted to formulate a new Constitution by the Nepalese people themselves, subject to the provisions of this Constitution.
(2) After the commencement of this Constitution, the Election of the Constituent Assembly shall be held on the date as specified by the Government of Nepal.
(3) The Constituent Assembly shall consist of the following four hundred twenty five members, out of which four hundred and nine members shall be elected through mixed electoral system and sixteen members shall be nominated, as provided for in the law:
(a) Two hundred and five members shall be elected from among the candidates elected on the basis of first-past-the-post system from each of the Election Constituencies existing, in accordance with the prevailing law before the commencement of this Constitution.
(b) Two hundred and four members shall be elected under the proportional electoral system on the basis of the votes to be given to the political parties, considering the whole country as one election constituency.
(c) Sixteen members to be nominated by the interim Council of Ministers, on the basis of consensus, from amongst the prominent persons of national life.
(4) The principle of inclusiveness shall be taken into consideration while selecting the candidates by the political parties pursuant to sub-clause (a) of clause (3) above, and while making the list of the candidates pursuant to sub-clause (b) above, the political parties shall have to ensure proportional representation of women, Dalit, oppressed tribes/indigenous tribes, backwards, Madhesi and other groups, in accordance as provided for in the law. Notwithstanding anything contained in this clause, in case of women there should be at least one third of total representation obtained by adding the number of candidature pursuant to sub-clause (a) of clause (3) to the proportional representation pursuant to sub-clause (b) of clause (3).
(5) The election of the members of the Constituent Assembly shall be held through secret ballots, as provided for in the law.
(6) For the purpose of election of the Constituent Assembly, every Nepali citizen who has attained the age of eighteen years by the end of Mangsir, 2063 (15th December 2006) shall be entitled to vote, as provided for in the law.
(7) Subject to the provisions of this Article, election for the Constituent Assembly and other matters pertaining thereto shall be regulated as provided for in the law.
PART 18: POLITICAL PARTIES
141. Prohibition on the Imposition of Restrictions on Political Parties: (1)
Persons who are committed to common political ideology, philosophy and program shall, subject to the laws made under proviso (3) of clause (3) of Article 12 of this Constitution, be entitled to form and operate political parties of their choice and to generate or cause to be generated publicity in order to secure public support and cooperation from the general public for their ideology, philosophy and programs, and to carry out any other activities for that purpose. Any law, arrangement or decision, which restricts any such activities, shall be considered inconsistent with this Constitution and shall ipso facto be void.
(2) Any law, arrangement or decision which allows for participation or involvement of only a single political party or persons having a single political ideology, philosophy or program in the elections, political system of the country or conduct of State Affairs shall be considered inconsistent with this Constitution and shall ipso facto be void.
(3) Political Parties with the objectives contrary to the spirit and norms of the preamble of this constitution shall not be considered qualified for the party registration.
The interim constitution’s enactment in January 2007 suggests that certain reforms to the political party and electoral system were implemented. Nevertheless, these reforms were not tested because the elections for the CA did not occur in 2007. Elections for the CA had been originally scheduled for 15 July 2007, but were delayed. This was the fact that the Elections Commission needed additional time to prepare for the elections. The Seven Party Alliance (SPA) was also unprepared for the elections and the Maoists required more time too. The Cabinet decided to hold the CA elections on 22 November 2007. 62 political parties registered with the Election Commission. For the purpose of the elections, about 120,000 civil personnel and about 70,000 security personnel were mobilized.1
The CA elections were postponed for the second time on 5 October 2007 due to the intransigence of the Seven Party Alliance and Maoist Party. The key obstacles blocking the elections were the “Maoists’ demand for the declaration of a republic before the Constituent Assembly election and the adoption of a fully proportional representation (FPR) system of election instead of the mixed system, as agreed earlier, of first-past-the-post for half the seats and proportional representation for the other half”.2 The Maoists quit the government to leverage their demands.3 Parties reached a 23-point agreement on December 23. In the agreement, parties agreed to distribute the PR and the direct election seats along a 60-40-percentage line. They also agreed to hold elections before mid-April 2008 and that Nepal would be a republic state. These changes were adopted in the third amendment of the interim constitution on 28 December 2007.4 Once these agreements were reached, the Maoists opted to rejoin the government on 30 December 2007.5
- 1. "Is Constitutional Assembly Possible in Nepal," Conflict Study Center (Situation Update 42), July 6, 2006.
- 2. "Secretary General’s Report to the Security Council," United Nations (S/2008/5), January 3, 2008.
- 3. "Nepal’s Twelve-Point Rationale of Poll Postponement," Conflict Study Center (Situation Update 52), October 11, 2007.
- 4. "Secretary General’s Report to the Security Council," United Nations (S/2008/5), January 3, 2008.
- 5. Ibid.
The Constituent Assembly (CA) elections took place on 10 April 2008. The mixed electoral system elected 240 members on a first-past-the-post basis, and 335 members on the basis of proportional representative. The remaining 26 members were nominated by each political party present in the CA.6 The Maoists won 120 seats in the first-past-the-post elections and 100 seats in the PR portion, The NC won 37 seats in the first-past-the-post elections and 73 proportional representation seats. The Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) (UML) won 33 first-past-the-post seats and 70 proportional representation seats. MPRF obtained 30 first-past-the-post seats and 22 proportional representation seats, while the other two UDMF parties won 13 first-past-the-post seats and 16 proportional representation seats.7 After the elections for the Constituent Assembly were held, the interim parliament dissolved. The CA was convened on 28 May 2008. The CA is highly representative in terms of the number of seats held by women, minorities and Dalits.
The success of the CA elections and the PR electoral system suggest that major reforms took place in terms of transformation of the Maoist party as a legitimate party and the adoption of the PR electoral system. On 14 November 2008, the CA approved the regulations and procedures for drafting the country’s constitution. The assembly endorsed an 82-week calendar for completing the drafting process. The CA tasked 14 committees with drafting the constitution.8 Nevertheless, these reforms were temporary because the CA has yet to complete the new constitution, which will determine which type of electoral system will be used in the future.
- 6. "Secretary General’s Report to the Security Council," United Nations (S/2008/313), May 12, 2008.
- 7. "Secretary General’s Report to the Security Council," United Nations (S/2008/313), May 12, 2008.
- 8. "Secretary General’s Report to the Security Council," United Nations (S/2009/1), January 2, 2009.
Constitutional drafting committees were functioning. The final constitution was due by 28 May 2010.
In March 2010, “the Constitutional Committee (CC) adjourned its proceedings until further notice, unable to complete the first draft of the constitution, due on 5 March, since only one of ten thematic committee reports has been approved by the Constituent Assembly (CA). Meanwhile, contentious issues such as state restructuring and the future form of governance remain unresolved.”9 The CA failed to deliver the final constitution on 28 May 2010. An amendment to the interim constitution extended the term of the CA for another year, until 28 May 2011. To resolve the constitutional dispute, a high-level political mechanism was established. The Maoist leader and former Prime Minister, Mr. Puspa Kamal Dahal, chaired this political mechanism.
- 9. Nepal Monthly Situation Updates (Issue No. 58), March 16, 2010.
Contentions over the type of electoral system still remain unresolved among other issues. The Maoists favor a winner take all system at the federal and constituent levels, while the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML prefer that a mixed system be adopted similar to the one adopted for the 2008 CA elections.10
In their efforts to resolve contentious issues in drafting the constitution, political parties had in principle agreed a mixed system of government in which the president was said to be elected directly and the prime minister from the federal legislature. Regarding, the electoral system which was to elect the federal parliament, parties agreed for a mixed model in which 171 members would be elected directly and 140 members proportionally in the 311-member lower house.11 Because the CA failed to promulgate the constitution by the stipulated deadline of 28 May, provisions related to political party or electoral system reform was not implemented as of July 2012.
- 11. "Parties Agree on 11-Province Model," Myrepublica, May 15, 2012.
No progress was made in 2013.
While major political parties tried to settle disputed issues including the electoral system in the constitution drafting process, substantial progress was not made. The Committee for Constitutional, Political Dialogue and Consensus Building was created in April to expedite the dialogue and find consensus among political parties on disputed issues and produce a report within three months.12 In its report, the CCPDC listed the electoral system as one of the contentious issues that it was not able to solve.13 While political parties agreed on a mixed electoral system comprised of the majoritarian representation and proportional representation, parties had differences on the ratio for the directly and proportionally elected members, and within the proportional system, parties had different positions on whether the candidate names in the proportional list should be ranked.
As of 31 May 2015, major political parties have agreed and initiated to find solutions on disputed issues, including the electoral system, within a month.14. On 9 June, 4 major political parties reached a 16-point agreement to deal with the contentious issues.15 The Constituent Assembly approved the draft constitution on July 7.16 The draft constitution outlines the mixed electoral system with one-third seats in the legislature guaranteed for women. There will be 275 members in legislature parliament of which 165 will be elected through first-past-the-post system and the rest (110 members) will be elected through the proportional system. The Upper house will have 45 members of which 40 members will be elected equally from each federal province and five will be nominated by president on the recommendation of the council of ministers. Provincial parliaments will be unicameral. The constitution requires that the parties must elect at least one-third women representatives in the federal legislature as well as the provincial legislature. The mixed electoral system is used to elect members of the provincial legislature which is unicameral.