Federalism in Action: Regular Elections - Ways of Implementing Federalism in Nepal (2023)

The recent federal and provincial elections in Nepal show the country's continued progress towards federalism and the emergence of new political actors that challenge traditional parties. Voters across the country elected 825 legislators to second terms in provincial and federal legislatures. The success of Nepal's second periodic elections and the formation of federal and provincial governments through the constitution gave new legitimacy to the federal system. Voters have already shifted responsibility for decision-making to the legislature. Political parties and elected legislators are now responsible for implementing the spirit of the constitution and the agenda of the federal model of national development.

electoral system in nepal

The Constitution of Nepal provides for regular elections to ensure the smooth functioning of the President, Vice President, Federal Parliament, Provincial Assemblies and local bodies. Nepal held its municipal elections on 13 May 2022, followed by elections for the federal parliament and provincial assemblies on 20 November 2022. Periodic elections were seen as a way of institutionalizing the federal system of government, which includes three levels . government: federal, provincial and local.

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The bicameral Federal Parliament is divided into two chambers: The National Assembly (Upper Chamber) with 56 members elected by an electoral college and three members appointed by the President; and the House of Representatives (HoR), which has 275 members elected directly by voters through a mixed parallel electoral system for five-year terms.

The country is divided into 165 constituencies for elections to the House of Commons. Members are elected by simple majority system (FPTP), with one representative elected from each of the 165 constituencies defined by geography and population. The remaining 110 members are elected through a proportional representation (PR) system that treats the entire country as a single constituency.

Nepal's provinces have a unicameral legislature known as the Provincial Assembly (PA). A mixed system of parallel voting was used to elect members of the Provincial Assembly. Nepal has 550 provincial seats spread across its seven provinces where FPTP is used to elect 330 (60%) seats and PR is used to elect 220 (40%) of the seats.

Federalism in Action: Regular Elections - Ways of Implementing Federalism in Nepal (1)

Voters looking for their name on the electoral roll.

electoral system and inclusion

The Constitution of Nepal clearly stipulates that the electoral system must be representative of the country's population in terms of gender, ethnicity, religion and language. According to Article 84(8) at least one third of the total number of members elected to the CoR by each political party must be women. If the FPTP vote result does not meet the one-third requirement for the proportion of women, the party must make up the difference through the PR list. The Constitution also requires political parties to submit a closed list of candidates for HoR elections through the public relations system to ensure inclusive representation of women, Dalits, Adibasi-Janajatis (indigenous/ethnic communities), Khas Aryas (chhetri , Brahmin, Thakuri and Sannyasi/Dasnami communities), Madhesis, Tharus, Muslims and geographically remote and underdeveloped ("backward") regions. The provision also requires parties to balance candidates geographically and by province, as well as take into account the representation of people with disabilities. Likewise, Article 176 requires that at least one-third of the total number of members elected to the PA by any political party be women. The public relations system also ensures that Dalits, Adibasi-Janajatis, Khas Aryas, Madhesis, Tharus, Muslims, geographically remote ("backward") regions, minority communities and people with disabilities are represented in the Provincial Assembly.

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The establishment of a public relations voting system in the constitution stems from Nepal's long history of injustice based on regions, communities, gender, class, etc. Implementing a PR voting system aims to increase representation of people from marginalized and underrepresented communities to secure state bodies. Under the PR system, 40% of legislators are elected in the Chamber of Deputies and provincial legislatures. However, when distributing candidacy ballots during this election, it was discovered that the main political parties were ignoring constitutional provisions on representation. As a result, women made up just 10.25% of the candidates nominated for the HoR and 8.54% for the Palestinian Authority elections. The Electoral Commission claimed to have repeatedly warned political parties about the representation of women in elections. However, these efforts did not produce the desired results, and the number of female candidates for public office fell short of the one-third limit established in the constitution.

Under the public relations system, political parties competing in national elections submitted lists of candidates. However, many of the names on the lists show how political parties in Nepal continue to abuse the electoral public relations system excessively. The parties nominated wives and sisters of influential leaders, controversial figures and businessmen, reflecting a tendency towards favoritism and nepotism. This trend was particularly evident in this election: in previous elections, parties repeatedly abused the public relations system, selecting people from their lists to become members of the Chamber of Deputies and caucuses.

Federalism in Action: Regular Elections - Ways of Implementing Federalism in Nepal (2)

electoral alliance

Major political parties formed an electoral alliance in federal and provincial elections to maximize gains across the country. The parties saw the alliance as a tool to ensure the most favorable outcome in terms of electoral performance. However, the allies created conflict and dissatisfaction among party structures and members regarding the distribution of candidacy ballots. This dynamic was also evident in the coalitions formed in the May 2022 local elections.

The disarray in the alliance was particularly visible when the tickets were distributed. Party leaders and cadres who gave their lives for the party were dropped from the list in favor of candidates with money and support from the other parties in the alliance. This also led to an increase in the number of rebel candidates challenging Alliance candidates. Even voters recognized that the coalition between the parties was motivated more by desperation to win more seats than by similarity or ideological convergence. The need and desire to somehow win seats has seen candidates switch political affiliations in the last few hours, depending on which alliance makes them a better bid.

In this election, both the ruling and opposition parties formed electoral alliances. On one side was the ruling coalition, which included the Nepali Congress (NC), the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist Center (CPN-MC), the Communist Party of Nepal-Socialist United (CPN-USA) and the Communist Party of Nepal. -United Socialist (CPN-US) and Loktrantrik Samajwadi belonged to the Party (LSP) and Rashtriya Janamorcha (RJ). On the other hand, the opposition alliance included the Marxist-Leninist United Communist Party of Nepal (CPN-UML), the Rashtriya Prajatrantra Party (RPP) and the Janata Samajwadi Party (JSP). Alliance members agreed to propose and support common or joint candidates in both the current group and the opposition group. However, parties from both alliances issued separate manifestos defending their independent existence within the party system.

Federalism in Action: Regular Elections - Ways of Implementing Federalism in Nepal (3)

Meeting of candidates with voters during the election campaign.

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Emergence of new political parties and independent candidates

Voters across the country expressed their discontent with former political parties and their candidates in federal and state elections. New political parties and independent candidates capitalized on voter dissatisfaction with traditional parties. To achieve this goal, the new actors launched a series of sociopolitical campaigns. For example, a social media campaign using the hashtag #NoNotAgain primarily promoted independent candidates and called for the replacement of “old and corrupt” leaders of all major parties. Grassroots campaigns like these have led voters to question the credibility of current leaders and parties, while also increasing voter sentiment in hopes of seeing new candidates from new parties or independents. Social media campaigns also spread the message that a new generation of young leaders was gaining influence on the campaign trail and seeking to win seats in different constituencies. This has shaken the old guard in all the parties that have held political supremacy for so long.

So this election was a litmus test for new political parties and independent candidates. Many took the opportunity to engage with voters by promoting more progressive development agendas, such as increasing job creation, eliminating corruption, better access to health and education, promoting women's rights, tourism and combating climate change, among others. other premises. This pattern is consistent with what was seen in local polls in May 2022. The victories of independent candidates such as Kathmandu Mayor Balen Shah and Dharan Mayor Harka Sampang have given hope to new independent parties and candidates. This election showed that a significant segment of the Nepalese electorate is looking for alternative leaders, particularly those with a new face or party.

Election outcome and coalition government

The Nepal Election Commission (ECN) announced the final results of the House of Representatives and Provincial Assembly elections on 14 December. In the final count, 12 parties secured representatives in the Chamber of Deputies. Seven of these parties became national political parties: Congress of Nepal (NC), Communist Party of Nepal-UML (CPN-UML), Maoist Center Communist Party of Nepal (CPN-MC), Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP), Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP), Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP) and Janamat Party (JP).

NC became the largest party, winning 79 seats. The CPN-UML reached the position of the second largest party with 78 seats, while the CPN-MC was third with 32 seats. RSP and RPP won 20 and 14 seats respectively. Likewise, JSP and JP won 12 and 6 seats, respectively, in the Chamber of Deputies.

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In addition to these seven national parties, the Nagarki Unmukti Party (NUP), Workers and Peasants Party of Nepal, Rastriya Janamorcha and five independents will also be represented in Parliament.

Election results across the country have revealed different faces and facets of representative democracy in Nepal. New political parties have emerged in areas where majority parties lack popular support. The best examples of this are the rise of the RSP as a counterproduct of traditional politics and the Janamat party as an avenue for new Madhesh politics. Many high-ranking political leaders were stunned by the election results as they lost their offices to new and young leaders from various professional backgrounds.

With no majority party, voters were eager to see who would lead the country as prime minister and how the new government would take shape. The President's deadline for parties to propose a Prime Minister as head of government with majority support has changed the whole game of power-sharing arrangement as established in electoral coalitions. As no party won a majority, the President urged all HoR members to demonstrate a majority with the support of other parties, as required by the constitution. Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prachanda), leader of the CPN-MC, was appointed as the new Prime Minister of Nepal on 25 December. The President appointed Prachanda as the new Prime Minister of Nepal after the Nepalese Congress, the largest party in the Federal Parliament, failed to submit a demand for the formation of a new government within the time period prescribed by Article 76(2). Nepali Constitution saying it received a clear majority in the House of Representatives.

Prachanda switched sides with the Nepalese Congress and sought support from the CPN-UML to meet constitutional requirements to form a government. The CPN-UML and CPN-MC agreed to share power for the next five years, with Prachanda serving as Prime Minister for the first two and a half years of the term, followed by KP Sharma Oli, former Prime Minister and Chairman of the CPN -UML for the next two and a half years, last two and a half years. Prachanda was supported by 78 MPs CPN-UML, 32 MPs CPN(MC), 20 MPs RSP, 14 MPs RPP, 6 MPs JP, 4 MPs NUP and 12 MPs JSP. Meanwhile, the Nepalese Congress also showed its confidence in the new Prime Minister. It is now unclear to Malerisches Haus which parties are in government and which parties are in opposition.

New phase of federal implementation begins

The constitution has been in effect for over seven years, two regular elections have been held, and federalism has entered the next phase of implementation. It is worth noting that the implementation of federalism in Nepal has been controversial, with some claiming that it has led to further polarization and political instability. There were also disagreements over the allocation of resources and the distribution of power between central, provincial and local governments. Despite these challenges, federalism has the potential to address Nepal's longstanding problems of inequality and underdevelopment by allowing for more decentralized decision-making and greater local control. It will be interesting to see how federalism develops in Nepal and how it affects the country's political landscape in the coming years. However, seven years after the enactment of a federal constitution, the progress of federalism offers hope for the development of an effective and representative system of government capable of meeting Nepal's challenges and meeting the needs and interests of its diverse population.

The new federal parliament and provincial assemblies will govern the country and deal with issues of economic development and poverty reduction. Overall, the federal and provincial elections in Nepal were a turning point in the country's democratic development and led to significant changes in the political landscape. It is now up to new governments and elected officials to work together to address the nation's challenges and promote the well-being of the Nepalese people.

Federalism in Action: Regular Elections - Ways of Implementing Federalism in Nepal (4)

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New challenges for new managers

It is time for new governments at all three levels to reassess the performance of federal and subnational government units against the criteria of their constitutionally delegated powers. A clear roadmap for each government's ability to exercise power under the terms of the constitution is necessary and useful for improving interstate relations. The constitution establishes coordination, cooperation and coexistence between the three levels of government, which is fundamental to the success or failure of federal policy. Nepal's newly elected decision-makers should embrace and pursue the principles of cooperation, coexistence and coordination in all spheres of power, as the three levels of government in Nepal have complex sharing arrangements between the three levels of government (as described in the Constitution). As constitutional provisions alone cannot guarantee these principles, practices or outcomes, the three levels of government and elected leaders must work together to implement federal governance in Nepal.

The preamble to the Constitution of Nepal explicitly defines the country as an equal society based on the principles of inclusion and proportional representation to ensure economic equality, prosperity and social justice through the assimilation and recognition of multi-ethnic, multilingual and multi-religious peoples. and multicultural. population. culturally and geographically distinct characteristics of the nation. Efforts are being made to establish this egalitarian society in Nepal with each election and formation of a new government with a new mandate. Federalism will be the driving force of Nepalese society and the instrument of governing the country in its work for a better future.


How federalism is implemented in Nepal? ›

Nepal has been a federal democratic republican state since 28 May 2008 (15th Jestha, 2065 BS). According to the concept of a federal system, Nepal has been divided into 7 provinces, 77 districts and 753 local levels. Now each province has a separate government along with the federal government at the centre.

When was federalism implemented in Nepal? ›

With the promulgation of its constitution in 2015, Nepal replaced a unitary government with a federal system of government. This process has made Nepal a federal democratic republic governed with three levels of government: a federal level, seven provinces and 753 local government.

What is an example of federalism in action? ›

In practice, federalism works by dividing powers and responsibilities between the federal government and state governments. The federal government has powers that are specifically delegated to it by the constitution, such as the power to regulate commerce, declare war, and coin money.

What is the function of federal government in Nepal? ›

Internal security and peace policy; policy, law, criteria, plan implementation and regulation; 2. Collecting, analyzing, utilizing, coordinating and protecting the security of specific individuals, important places, buildings, structures, diplomatic employee and highways; 3.

How is education an example of federalism in action? ›

Public education is a shared responsibility in American federalism. The system of educational governance facilitates a division of power and control among the three planes of government, namely, federal, state, and local.

What are three examples of federalism? ›

Federalism Examples
  • Admit new states.
  • Conduct elections.
  • Declare and engage in war.
  • Determine the qualifications of voters.
  • Establish and maintain schools.
  • Govern marriage laws.
  • Levy and collect taxes.
  • Maintain an army, navy, and air force.

What are 3 examples of how federalism functions in the US government? ›

Establish and collect taxes. Borrow money on the credit of the United States. Regulate commerce with foreign nations, the states, and Indian tribes. Establish laws regulating immigration and naturalization.

What are the main function of federalism? ›

Federalism allows states to be large and diverse, mitigating the risk of a tyrannical government through centralization of powers.

What are the three levels of government under the current federal system of Nepal? ›

Besides these single powers, there are 15 such concurrent powers that can be implemented by all three level of state, i.e., federation, province, and local levels, in the principles of coordination, cooperation, and coexistence.

What is the policy of Nepal government? ›

The fundamental objective of Nepal's foreign policy is to enhance the dignity of the nation by safeguarding sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence, and promoting economic wellbeing and prosperity of Nepal. It is also aimed at contributing to global peace, harmony and security.

How is the federal government involved with schools? ›

The Department's elementary and secondary programs annually serve nearly 18,200 school districts and over 50 million students attending roughly 98,000 public schools and 32,000 private schools. Department programs also provide grant, loan, and work-study assistance to more than 12 million postsecondary students.

How does the federal government affect schools? ›

The federal government also influences education by allocating funding only to those school districts that follow certain federal guidelines.

How can the federal government improve education? ›

Increase funding under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the Higher Education Act (HEA) to establish, expand, study, and spread effective learning models for school leaders, teachers, and other staff.

When was Federalism started? ›

Federalism is the theory of distributing power between national and state governments. The relation between federalism and the First Amendment has important dimensions involving political theory. Modern federalism was created at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, pictured here.

When did Nepal become federal democratic and Republic state? ›

Nepal, by adopting a new constitution in 2015, became federal, democratic and Republic state.

What is the purpose of federalism? ›

United States, 564 U.S. 211, 222 (2011) ( By denying any one government complete jurisdiction over all the concerns of public life, federalism protects the liberty of the individual from arbitrary power. When government acts in excess of its lawful powers, that liberty is at stake. ); United States v.

What are the 4 types of federalism? ›

  • Early federalism.
  • Under the Marshall Court.
  • Dual federalism.
  • Between dual federalism and the New Deal.
  • Cooperative federalism.
  • New federalism.
  • See also.
  • Notes.

How does federalism work today? ›

Federalism is a system of government in which the same territory is controlled by two levels of government. Generally, an overarching national government is responsible for broader governance of larger territorial areas, while the smaller subdivisions, states, and cities govern the issues of local concern.


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