Nepalese leaders in talks for new coalition

Results so far suggest neither the ruling coalition nor the Unified Marxist–Leninist partners will win a simple majority in Parliament.

Anil Giri

Anil Giri

The Kathmandu Post


November 30, 2022

KATHMANDU – With almost all results from the November 20 federal and provincial elections already in and no party winning a clear majority, big parties have intensified discussions to form a new government with the help of smaller parties.

Although the current ruling five-party alliance led by the Nepali Congress is determined to form a new government again, it is still uncertain whether the coalition member parties will win a simple majority of 138 seats in the House of Representatives.

On Monday also, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba held separate meetings with the leaders of two of the coalition partners—CPN (Maoist Centre) chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal and CPN (Unified Socialist) chief Madhav Kumar Nepal—and discussed which other party(ies) to admit to the alliance if the five parties failed to achieve the mandatory total of 138 seats.

The scene is still not clear, but in the event of the alliance failing to win enough seats, it needs support from either the Nagarik Unmukti Party or some independent candidates, said a leader close to Deuba.

The leaders on Monday also expressed concerns about the political future of the CPN (Unified Socialist), which is struggling to cross the three percent vote threshold to become a national party.

Election results of lower house seats in Syangja, Dolakha and Bajura are still awaited as some polling centers in the districts are scheduled to conduct re-polls following disputes and allegations of vote-rigging. The Congress and the CPN-UML accuse each other of ballot stuffing and voter intimidation.

The ruling coalition leaders also discussed asking their supporters in the three districts that are set to go for re-polling, to vote the parties’ respective candidates under the FPTP system and the CPN (Unified Socialist) under the PR system to help the staggering party achieve a national party status.

“Although the ruling alliance is near achieving parliamentary majority, we are waiting for final results,” said Narayan Kaji Shrestha, the vice-chairman of the CPN (Maoist Center), adding, “It will take a few more days to decide government formation.”

Besides a new government, Deuba and Dahal also discussed a power-sharing deal among themselves to elect future President, Vice-president, Speaker, Deputy Speaker, and forming governments in seven provinces, according to sources close to the two leaders.

The Maoist Center wants its nominees to be elected President and Speaker, and at least two chief ministers in provinces.

“But it will be difficult for Deuba to cede such important posts like President and Speaker to the Maoist Center,” a Nepali Congress leader said. “The power-sharing deal is another albatross around the neck for the Congress.”

In a separate meeting with Prime Minister Deuba, Maoist Centre chair Dahal and Unified Socialist chief Nepal discussed the need to further strengthen the five-party alliance and form a new government under the leadership of the alliance, according to Prime Minister Deuba’s press advisor Govinda Pariyar.

Deuba and Dahal held a meeting also on Saturday.

Meanwhile, on Monday, Nepal also had a meeting with senior Nepali Congress leader Ram Chandra Poudel who is also in the race for prime minister from the Nepali Congress. Besides Deuba and Poudel, Nepali Congress General Secretary Gagan Thapa and senior leaders like Shekhar Koirala, Prakash Man Singh and Shashank Koirala have publicly expressed their interest to become prime minister. Poudel reportedly asked Nepal to support his bid for prime minister.

“This is my turn to become prime minister because Deuba has repeatedly held the post and Gagan is a junior and he can wait,” a source quoted Poudel as saying to Nepal

Poudel said Nepal has responded to his request positively.

On Sunday, CPN-UML chair KP Oli met Singh and discussed the future cooperation between their two parties.

Leaders of the Congress and Maoist Centre said it will take at least a week for things to become clear regarding a new government.

On the other hand, the second largest party, the CPN-UML, is also working to cobble support from other parties to form the next government.

CPN-UML Vice-chair Subas Nembang said his party has received the highest number of popular votes, so his party will stake claim to form the government.

According to the latest results of the election, the Congress has won 53 lower house seats and is leading in three others.

Likewise, the CPN-UML has won 42 seats and has maintained a lead in one seat. The CPN (Maoist Center) has won 17, the CPN (Unified Socialist) 10, the Janata Samajwadi Party Nepal, and the Rastriya Prajatantra Party and the Rastriya Swatantra Party won seven seats each. Similarly, independent candidates won five seats, the Loktantrik Samajbadi Party won four seats, and the Nagarik Unmukti Party won three seats.

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