Nepal: Waiting on the lists

As of the 9th of December, political parties in Nepal had yet to submit their lists of candidates. The election, for a second-attempt Constituent Assembly, was held on 19 November. Even with all this time to assemble their lists, the Nepali Congress, the country’s oldest party, asked for an extension.

I occasionally read or hear of people believing that under closed party-list systems, parties “appoint” their candidates after the election. Of course, this is a misunderstanding. All closed-list systems that I know of require lists of candidates to be submitted before the election. Except Nepal. Does anyone know of any other exceptions to the rule of pre-election nomination of candidates?

Maybe the parties in Nepal need extra time because of the complexity of the quota rules:

As per the provision on inclusiveness under the PR system, political parties that are allocated up to 30 percent of the total of 335 PR seats should send 50 percent male members and 50 percent female.

Similarly, political parties that are allocated over 30 percent of the PR seats should send 50 percent women members, 31.2 percent Madhesi members (women and men 15.6 percent each), 13 percent Dalits (women, men 6.5 percent each), 37.8 percent indigenous (women, men 18.9 percent each), 4 percent from backward regions (women, men 2 percent each) and 30.2 percent Khas and Aryan (women and men 15.1 percent each).

Party-list PR seats make up 335 of the 575 elected seats. The rest are elected by First Past the Post in single-seat districts (SSDs). Allocation is in parallel, i.e. it is a Mixed-Member Majoritarian system.

The results (per Wikipedia) show the Nepali Congress with 105 SSDs and 91 list seats, the Communists with 91 and 84, and the Maoists with 26 and 54, respectively. Vote percentages, based on list votes are 25.6, 23.7, and 15.2. Each of these big parties did a few percentage points better in the SSD votes than in list votes.

The result for the Maoists is a large decline from their (surprising) performance in the 2008 election, held shortly after the Maoists abandoned their armed struggle. In that election, the Maoists had a plurality of seats, with 229, on around a third of the (list) votes.

That assembly failed to approve a constitution, despite various deadline extensions, and was dissolved. So back to the drawing board, now with an assembly where the older established parties are stronger.

8 thoughts on “Nepal: Waiting on the lists

  1. Only 240 single-member districts, MSS. The rest (26) are to be appointed by the President on the PM’s advice, if I am not much mistaken.

  2. Honestly if they are going to have requirements that strict, I’m not sure I’d want to blame the parties for needing extra time. I could easily imagine, at least in certain rules happy countries, this requirement somehow requiring a party to find a transgender person with the right set of six grandparents to make all of the different sorts of quotas.

  3. I thougt Iraq and Serbia had such after-election nominations in the past – in Iraq for sucurity reasons (or may be in Iraq the candidates were listed before the election, but the names were only disclosed after the election)

  4. JD, yes, that is correct. I put in “elected” seats because I knew there were also appointed ones, but I mistakenly put in the number of total seats instead. And, yes, the appointed seats appear to number 26.

    Mark, I agree, and suggested that. However, they could still be required to meet this requirement before they can register for the election instead of weeks later. On the other hand, given uncertainty about how well parties will do, combined with the complexity of the requirement, perhaps there is a certain logic to it.

    Bancki, my vague recollection of the Iraqi closed-list elections was that candidates were not disclosed, but that lists were submitted to the electoral commission before the election. However, I can’t say for sure. And I have no idea about Serbia.

  5. About Serbia: candidate lists are submitted before the election, but until 2011 it was not necessarily the top of the list who got elected, the party could still choose after the election who on its list got its seats.

    See also the first recommendation in the OSCE-ODIHR 2008 election report and their legal opinion on the 2011 amendment.

    Article 84 parliamentary election act (unamended 2000 version )

    “The submitter of the electoral list shall, not later than within ten days from the date of the publication of the total results of the election, hand over to the Republic Electoral Commission the data on which candidates from the electoral list will be awarded representative mandates won on that list, in accordance with the terms of this Law.

    If the submitter of the electoral list fails to hand over these data, the Republic Electoral Commission shall remind him in writing that he is bound to do it within the supplemental period of five days, warning him of the consequences of his failure to act.

    If the submitter of the electoral list fails to deliver the requested data in the supplemental period, the Republic Electoral Commission shall, by a separate ruling, award all mandates gathered by that list to the candidates from the list according to their order on the list. This ruling shall not be subject to objection or appeal.”

    • So, the “punishment” for non-compliance is that seats get awarded… in accordance to the submitted list!

      I might note in this context that it is common in Portugal for some candidates with high enough ranks to get elected to “decline” their seat, in which case lower-ranked candidates move up. I am not sure how common this might be in other closed-list systems.

      Still, none of these cases is quite like Nepal, it seems.

  6. What about Guyana? Are there any cases of countries changing from a MMM to MMP? Would this be the easiest electoral system reform ever?

  7. MMP was mentioned in several of the draft versions of the constitution I read a while back, and got quite some support in committee. I was actually surprised to find my preferred variant (or at least the one I have advocated for a number of other countries, perhaps not necessarily for Nepal) in there as well: the Australian model, specifically with lower house elected by FPTP and the upper house elected by list-PR, although it had the least votes of the three proposals in the committee.

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