See More on Facebook

Politics

New parties face drubbing in by-elections as Nepalis continue to vote along party lines

“They failed to convince the voters as to what they would bring to the table if they were given a chance”.


Written by

Updated: December 2, 2019

Nepalis once again displayed traditional voting patterns as they continued to choose the established parties—Nepal Communist Party and the Nepali Congress—while casting their ballots in Saturday’s by-election, as they snubbed newer parties like Sajha and Bibeksheel.

Despite their untiring efforts, focussing primarily on Kaski Constituency-2 in a bid to get a seat in the federal Parliament, both Sajha and Bibeksheel, cut no ice with voters. Both parties have had to fight hard to even secure their deposits, as candidates must garner at least 10 percent of the total votes cast to get back their deposit; a failure to do so is considered humiliating.

By-elections were held on Saturday for 52 positions, including a vacant seat in the House of Representatives, three provincial assembly seats, one mayor, three rural municipality chairpersons, one rural municipality vice-chair, and 43 ward chairs.

As results filtered in, with the ruling Nepal Communist Party clearly leading and the Nepali Congress trailing, analysts pointed at a number of factors for the poor show of the new forces.

Rajendra Maharjan, a political commentator, said that parties like Bibeksheel and Sajha had nothing new to offer and that they continued to stick to their old refrain that the country needs a change.

“The only thing that’s new about them is their names,” Maharjan told the Post. “They failed to convince the voters as to what they would bring to the table if they were given a chance.”

Sajha Party is led by Rabindra Mishra, a former BBC journalist, while Bibeksheel Party is headed by Ujwal Thapa, who made his foray into politics after identifying for long as a social campaigner.

Both parties had contested the 2017 local elections separately, but buoyed by the votes they had gathered in Kathmandu and Lalitpur, they decided to contest general elections together and merged. However, their merger did not last long as they decided to split on January 11 after 17 months.

Analysts say the two parties were upbeat about garnering some votes in Kathmandu and Lalitpur but that they would largely have been unable to expand beyond the urban centres.

Their presence is largely on social media and elections are decided in ballots, not in virtual space, said CK Lal, a political analyst who is also a columnist for the Post.

“Whatever votes the Sajha Party has been able to garner in Kaski is because of its presence on social media,” said Lal. “These days, voters take decisions through hard-headed calculations.”

Both Sajha and Bibeksheel have often faced censure for constantly criticising the traditional parties and their leaders, blaming them for all the ills in the country. They, however, have failed to come up with a clear strategy of their own to clean up the mess.

The results show that Nepali voters are still not ready for an alternative to traditional forces, according to Jhalak Subedi, a political observer who has followed Nepal’s leftist politics for decades.

“The fundamental problem with these new parties is they have failed to build an organisational base,” said Subedi.

According to Subedi, unless the parties have a strong organisational base right down to the grassroots level, people will refuse to recognise them.

“Voters alone cannot be blamed,” said Subedi. “In the case of Sajha and Bibeksheel, they function more like social organisations than political outfits and their leaders are more like campaigners and social workers.”

When it comes to the Communist party and Congress, they have their own history and can always cash in on the sacrifices their leaders have made in the past for democracy. Hence, they have political capital, which pays off during election time, say commentators.

“Why would a voter waste their vote,” said Lal. “There should be three major reasons for voters to vote for a party—past performance and track record; personal or national prospects, and future prospects. The new parties have none of these.”

 



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


The Kathmandu Post
About the Author: The Kathmandu Post was Nepal’s first privately owned English broadsheet daily and is currently the country's leading English-language newspaper.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Politics

10 dead in Delhi in violent protests against controversial citizenship law, in the midst of Trump’s visit

Witnesses said Delhi police, who were outnumbered, did little to stop the violence, mostly standing by while groups pelted each other with stones, and vandalised vehicles and property. At least 10 people, including a cop, have been killed in India’s capital city Delhi since Monday (Feb 24), in a worrying outbreak of communal violence between those protesting a controversial citizenship law and groups who oppose them. The violence, marked by arson and stone pelting, continued on Tuesday less than 20km from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump were holding talks. Even journalists reporting on the spot were attacked and forced to delete pictures and footage. More than 100 people have been injured, accordin


By The Straits Times
February 27, 2020

Politics

Malaysia political turmoil: Search for new government continues as King meets 132 MPs in second day of interviews

The unprecedented move for the King to interview MPs individually instead of meeting party leaders appears to be in line with Dr Mahathir’s plan to form a grand coalition across the political spectrum. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong continues the search for Malaysia’s new government on Wednesday (Feb 26) by interviewing 132 MPs to see whether they back interim premier Mahathir Mohamad to continue leading the country. This will complete interviews of all 222 parliamentarians after those from the opposition were asked on Tuesday who they wanted as prime minister, or if they preferred a snap election. Those heading to the palace on Wednesday are from the now collapsed Pakatan Harapan (PH) government. The Straits Times understands that those still in


By The Straits Times
February 26, 2020

Politics

Mahathir made caretaker PM after Malaysia’s King accepts his resignation

After his resignation, the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition saw the departure of dozens of lawmakers that left it short of a majority in Parliament. Just hours after submitting his resignation to Malaysia’s King on Monday (Feb 24), Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was made caretaker Prime Minister. The King accepted Tun Dr Mahathir’s resignation, but appointed him interim Prime Minister, Chief Secretary to the government Mohd Zuki Ali said in a statement. Dr Mahathir will continue to run the country’s administration until a new prime minister and Cabinet are appointed, he added. All ministerial appointments were also cancelled with effect from Monday as a result of the prime minister’s resignation, the chief secretary said in a separate state


By The Straits Times
February 25, 2020

Politics

Vietnamese advised to avoid travel to coronavirus-hit areas in South Korea, flights not banned yet

The Consular Department under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Vietnamese Embassy in South Korea has recommended Vietnamese citizens to avoid travel to areas affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and places vulnerable to the disease. The warning was made given the complex development of the COVID-19 in the RoK. Vietnamese citizens were also advised to keep a close watch and follow instructions of local agencies to prevent the illness. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has asked the Vietnamese Embassy in the RoK to work with local agencies to learn more about the situation, keep in touch with Vietnamese citizens in the country, establish a hotline and be ready to take protection measures when necessary. According to the embassy, as o


By Viet Nam News
February 24, 2020

Politics

Singdollar declines to near 3-year low on coronavirus fears

 Fall comes amid Asia-wide forex sell-off after South Korea infection spike, two deaths in Japan. The Singapore dollar fell along with most Asian currencies on concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. The local currency fell to its lowest level against the United States dollar since May 2017 at one point yesterday, before recouping some of the losses. It slid about 1 per cent to as low as S$1.4083 to the greenback, before paring losses to trade 0.3 per cent lower. South Korea’s won sank more than 1 per cent to 1,201.95 to the dollar. The baht, the most sensitive in Asia to tourism, dropped 0.7 per cent to 31.406 to the dollar. The sell-off in the region’s foreign exchange (FX) markets followed a spike in confirmed infections in South


By The Straits Times
February 21, 2020

Politics

China revokes press cards of 3 WSJ journalists in Beijing

According to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang, the press cards of three Wall Street Journal journalists who are based in Beijing will be revoked from Wednesday. The press cards of three Wall Street Journal journalists who are based in Beijing will be revoked from Wednesday, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang. “The Chinese people do not welcome media that use racially discriminatory languages and maliciously slander and attack China,” Geng told an online press briefing Wednesday. On Feb 3, the Wall Street Journal published an article titled “China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia” by Professor Walter Russell Mead of the Bard College, which smeared the efforts of the Chinese government and p


By China Daily
February 20, 2020