Nepal: Closed list procedures

From eKantipur, in Nepal (full text):

PR system closed list procedures ready

BY BISHNU BUDHATHOKI

KATHMANDU, Feb 11 – The Election Commission has outlined procedures for political parties regarding the naming of the closed list of candidates for 335 seats under the proportional electoral system for Constituent Assembly (CA) election.

It has also invited all 74 recognized political parties at a program on Monday for briefing on the procedures.

To contest election under the proportional electoral system, a party has to submit a list of at least 34 candidates. Of the 34 candidates, at least six candidates may be entered as common candidates representing different groups whereas a party contesting all the 335 seats could have 54 under the common group.

If any political party wants to submit the closed list to contest for minimum seats, it must ensure 11 seats for Madhesis, five for Dalits, 13 for janajatis, one for backward regions, 10 under ‘others’ and 17 for women. Whereas, if any party wants to contest all the 335 seats, it must ensure 104 seats for Madhesis, 44 for Dalits, 127 for indigenous groups, 13 for backwards regions, 101 for others and 168 for women.

As the number of candidates represent more than one group, the sum of the percentage of candidates of all groups appears to be more than one hundred. Citing this complication, the EC has defined the procedures saying that a candidate may belong to more than one group; for example, a dalit woman from Madhes would be counted under several categories — woman, Madhesi, and dalit.

If any party wins at least 25 seats under the PR, it must allocate at least seven seats for Madhesis, three for Dalits, nine for indigenous groups, one for backward regions, seven for others and 12 for women. The proportion would increase with higher wins. The law has also provided ten percent elbow for the central executive committee of political parties.

In case the political party fails to comply with the requirements listed above, the EC will request the concerned party to make necessary amendments within seven days and meet the requirements specified in the legal provisions.

Posted on: 2008-02-10 21:36:59 (Server Time)

0 thoughts on “Nepal: Closed list procedures

  1. Many PR critics misread the rules as allowing parties to appoint candidates to Parliament from their party list after the election, without regard to the order on the list, so that voters have no idea who they are really voting for. But who would use such a system?

    Well, Nepal.

    “Once a party knows how many seats it has won, it must choose the candidates to be elected from the party list of candidates (the list submitted to the Election Commission on 20 February prior to the election). The political parties can pick from anywhere on their lists. They do not have to select the candidates from the top of their lists in the order in which they were submitted to the Election Commission – as is more normal democratic practice. For example, if a party can choose five candidates, they do not have to choose the first five people on their list. Rather they can select people from the top, middle, end of the list, or anywhere in between – in any order they wish. However, parties do have to ensure that the candidates they choose meet the quota requirements for representation of women, dalits, oppressed castes/indigenous ethnic groups, backward regions, Madhesis and “others”.”

    And yes, it’s the parallel mixed system.

  2. “Just as it makes no difference to the functioning of the plurality system whether or not the candidates are nominated by parties… it makes no difference to [closed-list PR] whether the candidates are nominated before an election or simply appointed afterwards by parties once they know how many candidates they have slots for.”

    When I wrote those words about three years ago, I was mindful of the common misnomer of list legislators as “appointed” or not elected “directly.” However, I never imagined that there could be any real-world cases of closed lists where the candidates were not both nominated and ranked ahead of time.

    Source: Matthew S. Shugart, “Comparative Electoral Systems Research: The Maturation of a Field and New Challenges Ahead,” in Michael Gallagher and Paul Mitchell, eds., The Politics of Electoral Systems, Oxford, 2005.

  3. The Australian Senate uses exactly this system for casual vacancies. Neither by-elections, nor countback, nor even “next candidate down from the original party ticket”. Officially, the relevant State Parliament appoints someone, but they have to be a member of the original Senator’s party when appointed – and until they actually take their seat in Federal Parliament, which may be months afterwards. This time-lag gives the party executive a chance to expel a rank-and-file member who accepts appointment by the State Parliament in opposition to the party’s preferred nominee. Expulsion means the seat falls vacant over again.

    As a result, at any given time between one-tenth and one-sixth of the Australian Senate is filled with people whose name may never have been on a ballot paper. Unlike US Gubernatorial appointees, they hold offfice for a full term, not merely til the next biennial election (or special/ by- election).

    The pre-1977 provision (State Parliament could appoint whomever it liked, but only until the next Reps or half-Senate election, when the vacancy went to a by-election) also had flaws.

  4. Apparently, California Democrats use the Nepali list: This Sunday there are caucuses to pick the actual convention delegates that were awarded to the presidential pre-candidates via the primary in February.

  5. I acknowledge that a few US States use, or have used, party appointment (either appointment by the party’s exec committee, or a by-election in which only registered supporters of that party may vote) to fill casual vacancies in their State legislatures. The Supremes upheld this in a Puerto Rican case, Rodruiguez v Popular Democratic Party (1983). However, no US State legislature has a term longer than 4 years (and in some cases, the appointment only lasts til the next biennial State election, even if the full term would go longer). Whereas Australian Senators can sit for up to 6 years once appointed. Four years, I would suggest, is about the maximum limit consistent with democratic principle.

  6. Vacancies in the NSW Legislative Council are filled in roughly the same way by a joint sitting of the Legislative Assembly and the Council. The same rules apply about party membership. Since MLCs have the remarkable term of 8 years (twice the 4 year term of MLAs) Tom’s criticisms apply even more strongly.

    The 1977 constitutional amendments (the Australian electorate almost always rejects constitutional amendments) were a direct result of the Queensland legislature filling the seat of a deceased Labor senator with an anti-Labor senator who promised before his appointment to vote against Labor bills including supply. This ultimately led to the dismissal of the Whitlam government in 1975.

    Happily the eelctorate’s tendency to reject all constitutional amendments did not work in 1977. The amendment was introduced by the Fraser government, which replaced Whitlam’s after the dismissal.

    A US analogy would be George Bush immediately asking Congress to abolish the electoral college to ensure that no reversed election ever happened again, and the amendment getting ratified by 2002.

  7. Further to Alan, as well as the NSW Upper House using “appointment by party and/or Parliament” to fill vacancies in PR-STV seats, so too does the South Aust Legislative Council which, like its NSW counterpart, has a maximum 8-year term.

    Myself, I favour countback of the original election ballots, as used in Tasmania, the ACT and Western Aust. However, some writers (eg, Prof Geoff Sawer, 1977) have opposed this system on the grounds that it produces “odd results” if the political siuation has shifted in the <6 years since the original poll. Well, yes, but it can also shift even if no casual vacancy has occurred. (Refer "Colston, Dr Malcolm" and "Jeffords, James"). I suppose if one ran for Parliament 4 or 5 years ago and missed out, then got on with one's life, even bowed out of politics, it might seem odd to be offered a vacant seat out of the blue. Imagine if Al Gore, elected to the Aust Senate in 2000, suddenly vacated his seat in 2005, and the countback elected his running-mate, Joe Liebermann…

    Haviing said that, this is pretty much exactly what happens under most party-list systems (eg, Marutei Tsurunen) and it seems odd that an STV system (operating under a Constitution that arguably rules out pure party lists) gives the party machines more discretion and control over seats than most democratic party-list systems do!

    At the same time, parties change, too — they merge, split or even dissolve. (Does One Nation still exist? What about some of the micro-parties that won NSW upper house seats in 2003 and 2007?).

    The 1948-77 “by-election” system for the Aust Senate had another flaw – using “first past the quota”: eg, to fill five regular vacancies for a 6-year term plus one casual vacancy for a 3-year term, the Cwth Elec Act prescribed an STV count for 6 seats, quota 14.3%; the first 5 candidates to reach quota got the long terms, even if they were not necessarily the same 5 who would have been elected with a quota of 16.7%.

    And when the Senate by-election was held at a stand-alone House of Reps poll (ie, with no concurrent half-Senate election, eg Qld 1971 when Neville Bonner was first elected), the quota was of course 50.1%. This fluctuation in quotas could play havoc with party representation, and was highly vulnerable to partisan manipulation (eg, Bjelke-Petersen in 1974).

  8. JS Mill, who opposed the secret ballot, argued that the way to fill STV vacancies was to identify the class of electors who had voted for the vacated member and let them vote in a by-election.

    The idea of circuits proposed to the British Colombian Citizens Assembly would have gone a long way towards Mills’ position, although the proposal did not mention casual vacancies. The best solution would be to divide each district into circuits and hold a by-election within the circuit of the vacated member.

    Infuriatingly I rememeber reading a circuit by-election plan a long time ago but have no idea where.

  9. Too bad this blog has no threads on STV or Australia, leaving folks to comment on those topics at a thread on Nepal.

    Seriously, this question of filling vacancies is interesting in its own right, and really not the same issue as the point Wilf raised about post-election appointment of candidates* who will take a party’s seats.

    Maybe one of these days I will start a thread on filling vacancies, and transfer some of these over there. On the other hand, that would take effort…

    (Come to think of it, there may be an old planting on vacancies in the US Senate, but I am not sure.)

    ____
    * In Nepal.

  10. Sorry, MSS. You know how these things grow… The seed is planted in Lot A, but the vine reaches to Lot B, C or even Z. Feel free to uproot and transplant (I’m sure Alan would concur).

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