Picture Source: AUN News
August 2022, DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.26191.97443, License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
What is the influence of Political Parties and the Politics of Nepal? In recent years, Nepal has gone through many political upheavals. These were primarily due to the interference of two primary parties – the ruling Communist Party and the Maoist rebels fighting against them in a bloody, years-long civil war that ended just four years ago. However, while these parties are certainly significant, they aren’t the only ones involved in politics in Nepal today – or even in recent history. Let’s learn more about Political Parties and the politics of Nepal by examining some of the most notable ones out there today.
Key facts about political parties in Nepal
Nepal has more than two hundred political parties. Still, the most significant ones are the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) (CPN-UML), the Nepali Congress (NC), and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (UCPN-M).
The role of the Royal family in Nepal politics is somewhat complicated. King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev was deposed in 2001 by his son, Crown Prince Dipendra, who then committed suicide. Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev, another son of King Birendra, ascended to the throne but was later ousted in 2008.
The state of politics in Nepal is currently unstable. There have been many protests for democracy and against corruption, most notably led by Pushpa Kamal Dahal (popularly known as Prachanda) when he took over leadership of the UCPN-M from Baburam Bhattarai. During this time, several terrorist attacks and mass shootings have also resulted in the loss of life.
Poverty and lack of education for many citizens have led to an impoverished population with few opportunities for growth within their country. These social conditions have allowed political instability to persist within Nepal despite efforts from the international community. While people seem content to blame corrupt politicians for much of the current instability, it is essential to note that what influences politics in Nepal can also be seen across its border with India. For example, the Indian government’s decision to demonetize 500 and 1000 rupee notes at the end of 2016 left many Nepalese laborers without work due to their inability to exchange these bills for new currency. As such, they were unable to pay rent or buy food. These have nots now comprise a large percentage of Nepal’s protestor population.
While this poverty may play a role in the unrest, some argue that the primary cause of violence stems from old feuds between families and clans. Others point to interference from neighboring countries, like China, which may see Nepal as a strategic location for trade routes into Tibet. Yet while corruption plays an integral part in Nepalese politics, it isn’t just one thing; corruption could mean everything from bribes paid to police officers on patrol to land use disputes that lead directly to violence against civilians. What happens next? Nobody knows–especially since elections have not yet been scheduled–but whatever direction it takes will largely depend on how long its rulers are willing to listen.
Role of monarchy, politics, and economy of Nepal
Since the end of the monarchy in 2008, Nepal has been a federal republic with a parliamentary system of government. The most recent elections were held in 2017, after which the Nepali Congress party formed a government. However, this government lasted only nine months before being ousted by the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Center) and the United Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist). The current Prime Minister is Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli, who heads a coalition government between his own Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) and the Maoist Center. Politically, Nepal is considered to be a country plagued by corruption. In 2016 Transparency International ranked it 130th out of 176 countries on its annual Corruption Perceptions Index.
All significant political parties are implicated in some form, including the one that presently rules the country. Some politicians have turned to criminal enterprises to finance their election campaigns, and intimidation tactics are often used to prevent citizens from voting as they please. The most influential political parties are the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), with three seats in Parliament. Other vital parties include the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) and the United Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist). While there are several other notable parties, these four currently comprise most of those represented in Parliament.
The Royal family plays an unofficial role in politics through indirect influence. They can choose to endorse one candidate over another, for example, but cannot take part directly without risking the loss of popularity among their people. There does not seem to be any desire among the Royal family members themselves to intervene directly in politics because they do not want to risk upsetting the stability that came about with abolishing the monarchy in 2008.
Human rights violations
Nepal is a country with a long history of human rights violations. Political parties have been known to commit human rights violations in the name of politics. Nepal’s most significant and influential political party is the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). The Maoists have been responsible for many human rights violations, including the displacement of people, extrajudicial killings, torture, and rape. The other political parties are also guilty of human rights violations. Since the unification of Nepal in the 18th century, the Royal family has played a role in Nepalese politics. The Royal family has recently been accused of human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and forced disappearances. The state of politics in Nepal is volatile and unstable.
Several governments have come and gone in just the last decade. Some experts say that it’s due to corruption within Nepal’s institutions, but others attribute it to political parties vying for power at any cost. There are about eight major political parties in Nepal today; most are ethnic-based or regionalist, so they don’t represent all sectors of society well. With a lack of political stability, it’s hard to bring economic development as investors are reluctant to invest in Nepal. Economic development is key to improving the lives of its citizens. For example, if there was more economic development, education could be improved as more schools would open rather than operating out of someone’s home. With this constant struggle for power between different parties and instability within the government structure, Nepal seems stuck in an endless cycle which may not end until after the next election in November 2022.
Government formation after the 2015 election
After the 2015 election, there was a lot of debate about which political party would form the government. Nepal’s most significant political parties are the Nepali Congress, the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist). The Royal family’s role in Nepalese politics is interesting because they have some influence but are not directly involved in political parties or elections. The state of politics in Nepal is tumultuous, with a lot of corruption and influence from outside forces. What influences politics in Nepal the most is probably money, as there are a lot of donations and backroom deals made between parties. There is also widespread voter fraud that goes unpunished by the government. With so much corruption in Nepalese politics, it’s no wonder that people are looking for new alternatives.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen a rise in activism on behalf of democracy and freedom; most notably, more young people are becoming interested in voting. For example, more than 18 million eligible voters were out of just over 20 million during this most recent election. That means this latest election was the largest one ever held! These young voters may be why one study found that overall youth turnout increased by 15% from previous elections—a sign that politicians might want to take note of. If they don’t, change will come whether they like it or not.
State of Democracy, Economy, and Society
Nepal is a multiparty democracy with a bicameral legislature. The country has a population of approximately 26.4 million, and the median age is 20. There are more than 50 political parties represented in the Nepalese Parliament. The most significant and influential political parties are the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) (CPN-UML), the Nepali Congress (NC), and the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) (UCPN-M). The royal family’s role in Nepalese politics is limited, but they still have some influence. The state of politics in Nepal is unstable, with a lot of infighting between the different political parties. There’s also a lot of corruption within government institutions. For example, there was an incident where a school teacher donated goods to one party to get her job back, only to find out that she wasn’t on their list to be rehired.
People believe this corruption reaches all levels of society in Nepal – from essential service providers like doctors and teachers to top officials at big companies or banks. Many Nepalese citizens feel like their voices are never heard because it seems like politicians only care about how much money they can make off them instead of what policies will best serve them. In light of this disillusionment, many voters abstain from voting or don’t participate in civil discourse; they just let things happen without trying to change anything.
It should be no surprise that citizens experience such low trust in the government and its leaders. Transparency International’s 2017 Global Corruption Perception Index ranks Nepal in 120th place out of 180 countries, making it one of the most corrupt countries in Asia. With so much distrust and apathy among citizens, is it any wonder that Nepal ranks 170th out of 187 on the Human Development Index? It’s hard for Nepalese people to speak up when they’re underpaid, exploited, and mistreated by those supposed to care for them. After all, if you try to stand up for yourself, you might lose your livelihood, not to mention your friends and family. And if you complain too loudly or too often? You might lose your life. So it’s better not to say anything at all until something changes for the better.
Since the early 1990s, politics in Nepal has been a tale of corruption. Nepal’s most significant political parties are the Nepali Congress Party, the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Center). These parties have been accused of nepotism, bribery, and embezzlement. Nepal’s political state is such that the country has been unable to form a stable government. The role of the Royal family in Nepalese politics is also significant. In 2005, King Gyanendra dissolved the Parliament and assumed total government control. This led to mass protests by the people of Nepal. The current state of politics in Nepal is volatile.
Many factors influence the stability of the country. These include environmental degradation, natural disasters, and civil wars, among other things. After the People’s Movement II in 2006, there was a return to democratic rule with elections for the Constituent Assembly. The Royal family’s role continues to be a dominant factor in Nepalese politics. King Gyanendra’s dissolution of the Parliament led to mass protests by the people of Nepal.
Civil unrest and violence continue rampant in Nepal due to poverty, economic disparity, illiteracy, overpopulation, lack of infrastructure, low educational standards, and high unemployment rates. Due to these various challenges, it is unlikely that democracy will thrive in Nepal anytime soon. It remains unclear whether the new constitution promulgated on September 20th, 2015, will work. Various international organizations, including United Nations Organization and Amnesty International, have called for greater involvement of women in Nepalese politics. Nevertheless, their role so far has been minimal. Recently, thousands of children under 18 years old participated in an election protest demanding improved working conditions and access to education at schools across the country. Despite these efforts, political instability persists in Nepal as many people are still illiterate and uneducated, thereby limiting their participation in civic life while continuing to suffer from dire poverty levels
Author: Arindam Bhattacharya
Chairman, Advocacy Unified Network