Nepal Maoists give up on full PR system

As has been widely reported this week, Nepal’s political parties, including the demobilized Maoist rebels, have signed an accord that will abolish the nation’s monarchy. As part of a 23-point deal, ((Or 22 points, or 20 points, depending on the news sources one wants to believe.)) the Maoists also agreed to drop their demands for full proportional representation, AFP reports.

The pact paves the way for declaring the country a federal democratic republic immediately by amending the interim constitution — but the move will be ratified only after constituent assembly elections set for April…

Elections to the assembly that will shape the impoverished nation’s political future were postponed twice due to wrangling ((I always love how the media refer to political bargaining as “wrangling.”)) over Maoist demands that the electoral system be reformed and the monarchy abolished immediately…

Instead of a 497-member assembly, the country will have 601. Some 335 will be elected by proportional representation and 240 using the first-past-the-post system. The parties will nominate a total of 26 members. ((Other sources say these 26 will be appointed by the Cabinet, or by the Prime Minister; the purpose it to represent “the ethnic and indigenous groups who are not represented in the first-past-the post and the proportional system, according to the proposed bill,” reports The Rising Nepal.))

That is a big assembly for a country of under 30 million. I assume that will not be the size of the permanent legislative assembly; it is not uncommon for countries to have constituent assemblies much larger than their legislatures. ((The Rising Nepal (previous footnote) quotes Amod Prasad Upadhyay of Nepali Congress as saying, “Though the size of the CA will be huge, it will be able to encompass all the underprivileged groups.”))

Left unclear (to me) is whether the system is MMM or MMP. ((Jack, at The Democratic Piece, previously noted the confusion and conflicting reports on such important details of the electoral system being discussed.)) I am guessing the former. The Maoists have wanted PR (preferring no nominal tier, I believe), because of uncertainty about their own political strength and concerns about the ability of the established parties to gerrymander or malapportion in favor of their (more known) areas of strength. The existing parties presumably do not want nationwide PR (with or without a nominal tier) because of fears that the Maoists could inflate their vote in their zones of control, thereby favoring themselves in the total national seat balance. Either MMM or a variant of MMP with a small and/or regionalized list tier would be obvious compromises.

Meanwhile, Hindu News Update Service reports that:

Leaders in Nepal’s Terai plains have dismissed the agreement among the Seven-Party Alliance that paves the way for a new political and electoral system as “nothing but a power-sharing deal”, unlikely to address the problems of the Madhesi community in the region…

Two factions of the Madhesi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF) and the Rajendra Mahato-led Sadbhavana Party said the SPA pact to increase the number of seats under the proportional electoral system and the process for declaring Nepal a federal republic would not address the problems faced by the people living in the Terai plains bordering India.

From a later paragraph it seems that these groups do not object to the PR seats, per se (as the above implies), but to there not being enough of them.

“Key demands of these groups like a fully proportional electoral system and an autonomous Madhesh state with the right to self-determination under a federal structure have been completely ignored,” B P Yadav, the group’s general secretary was quoted as saying by the Kantipur online Monday.

“Turning a blind eye towards the need for addressing the demands of the armed groups operating in the Terai cannot ensure polls,” he said, stressing the agreement was nothing but a power-sharing deal.

If anyone finds any details of the proposed electoral system or the federal structure, please post a comment.

0 thoughts on “Nepal Maoists give up on full PR system

  1. Pingback: The Democratic Piece

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