Friday, 9 June, 2023

Confusion On Local Election Date Over

The confusion regarding the date of the local level elections has come to an end. A meeting of the leaders of the ruling five-party alliance Saturday agreed to hold the local level polls by mid-June, 2022. The ruling party leaders had met twice to decide the matter that got complicated owing to the contradiction in the related laws. Political parties, legal experts and civil society were split over the date of the local polls. Article 225 of the constitution states that the local level election should be conducted within six months from the tenure expiry of Village Council and the Municipal Council. The third phase of local election was held on September 18, 2017. Based on these grounds, some coalition partners wanted to hold the local polls in September this year.

However, Local Level Election Act, 2073 B.S. states that the local polls should be conducted two months before the expiry of the term of the elected local level representatives. The first and second phases of local polls were held on May 14 and June 28. Based on the Local Level Election Act 2073 and the date of the first phase of local polls in 2017, the Election Commission has recommended that the government announce local level elections for April 27, if the polls are conducted in a single phase, and on April 27 and May 5, if they are to be held in two phases. The EC also pressed the government not to delay in declaring the local poll date. Likewise, the Office of the President had also asked the government to announce the local election date.

Some have even interpreted that the government was at odds with the EC but such misgiving has found no substantial ground as the coalition parties decided to request the government through Prime Minister and President of Nepali Congress Sher Bahadur Deuba to conduct the local polls in mid-June this year. The meeting of High Level Political Committee comprising the top leaders of five parties also suggested the government to amend laws if necessary and if it contradicted with the constitution. The Committee held extensive consultations with the legal experts before taking the decision. Although this date is around a month later than that of the EC-proposed ones, there should not be any controversy on the issue. This has also met the demand of the main opposition CPN-UML that called for declaring the date of local polls without delay.

As per the Committee’s suggestion, the government is expected to announce the date of local elections soon after consulting the EC. It was quite illogical to doubt the intention of the government regarding the local poll date. The coalition government came into existence to protect the constitution and parliamentary sanctity. So there is no reason that it will shy away from going to elections, the fundamental basis of democratic polity and democratic exercise. The other day, chairman of ruling CPN-Unified Socialist Madhav Kumar Nepal said that the coalition government is not scared of local election and ready to face it at any time. Since the election is the best democratic exercise to measure the popularity of parties, all the political stakeholders should stay prepared for the local polls that expand and consolidate the grassroots democracy.