The general election will be held on Manshir 4, 2079 BS (20th November 2022) to elect the 275 members of the House of Representatives. There will be two ballots in the election; one to elect 165 members from single-member constituencies through FPTP (first-past-the-post). And the other to elect the remaining 110 members from a single nationwide constituency through party-list proportional representation.
History of Election law in Nepal
The Government of Nepal Act of 2004 BS (1948 AD) established the right to vote as a fundamental right of individuals who had reached the voting age which is the first provision for elected bodies.
The Electoral Commission bears a responsibility, authority, and power to manage, control, and direct the activities involved in creating the voter list, conducting elections, and establishing an election court to handle matters involving elections under the terms of Nepal’s 1951 Interim Constitution.
The first House of Representatives election in Nepal was conducted in 2015 BS (1959 AD) in terms of the Interim Constitution, to elect the 109 members of the first House of Representatives. Back then Nepali Congress was successful, taking 74 of the 109 seats with 38% of the vote. And Bishehwar Prasad Koirala became the first democratically elected and 22nd Prime Minister of Nepal.
Constitution, law, and act on Election
The Constitution of Nepal has a provision for the Federal Legislature in Part 8. Article 83 states that “There shall be a Federal Legislature consisting of two Houses to be known as the House of Representatives and the National Assembly, which shall be called as the Federal Parliament.”.
Talking about the candidates it states that “165 members to be elected through the first past the post electoral system, with one being elected from each of one hundred and sixty-five election constituencies delimited in Nepal on the basis of population and geographical convenience and specificity. 110 members to be elected through the proportional electoral system where voters vote for political parties, with the whole country being considered as a single electoral constituency.”
The Election Commission of Nepal is an official Election Management Body. The Constitution of Nepal has made provisions about the Election Commission in Section 24, articles 245 to 247. The Commission is in charge of holding elections for various tires, including federal, provincial, and local bodies, in accordance with the electoral processes specified by the constitution.
Election Commission Act, 2073 (2017)
It is related to the functions, duties, and powers of the Election Commission. It is enacted by the Federal Parliament pursuant to Article 296 sub-article (1) of the Constitution of Nepal. This act preserves the Functions, Duties, and Powers, Operation of Work and Management of the Commission, Election Code of Conduct, Provisions Relating to Election Expenses, Budget Management and Auditing, and Miscellaneous.
Attending The Election as a Candidate:
Nominations for the first-past-the-post (FTPT) system of election candidates were registered on Ashwin 23 2079 BS (October 9, 2022 AD). As stated by the Election Commission Nepal nomination papers were registered by visiting the offices of the Chief Returning Officer and Returning Officer under their jurisdiction. Leaders of political parties and independent political activists had to file direct nominations as a chance to be approved by the people after five years. According to the list provided by the election commission on Ashwin 26 2079 BS (October 12, 2022, AD), 2412 candidates from all over Nepal have registered their candidacy for the 165 seats of which 225 are Women candidates. 867 candidates are independent and the other 14,13 candidates are from the remaining political party. 257 candidates are running for the 10 seats in Kathmandu of which 100 of them are independent. 3224 candidates are running for the 110 seats of which 280 are women candidates. Among them, 1094 are independents and the rest 2130 candidates are the political party representative.
Qualification for the Political Candidates
Article 87 (Constitution Of Nepal) states that: approves some qualities under the title “Qualifications for Member – A person who has the following qualifications shall be eligible to become a member of the Federal Parliament”
- One who is a citizen of Nepal
- One who has completed the age of twenty-five years, for the House of Representatives, and of thirty-five years for the National Assembly;
- One who has not been convicted of a criminal offense involving moral turpitude;
- One who is not disqualified under any federal law; and
- One who is not holding any office of profit.
There is also the explanation in which office of profit means any position, other than a political position which is to be fulfilled by election or nomination, for which a remuneration or financial benefit is paid out of a government fund.
No person may be a member of both Houses (the House of Representatives and the National Assembly) at the same time. In case a person who holds a political office to be fulfilled by way of election, nomination, or appointment is elected or nominated as a member of the Federal Parliament under this Part, his or her office shall ipso facto fall vacant from the day on which he or she takes an oath of office of a member of the Federal Parliament.
Article 84 (2):
The federal law shall provide that in filing candidacy by political parties for the election to the House of Representatives under the proportional electoral system, representation shall be ensured on the basis of a closed list also from women, Dalit, indigenous nationalities (Aadibasi Janajati) Khas Arya, Madhesi, Tharu, Muslims and backward regions, on the basis of population.
In so filing candidacy, regard shall also be had to geography and regional balance.
Explanation: For the purposes of this clause, “Khas Arya” means Kshetri, Brahmin, Thakuri, and Sanyasi (Dashnami) communities. Political parties shall provide for representation of the persons with disabilities as well.
Election (Offences and Punishment)
Electoral Offences arranged by the Election (Offences and Punishment) Act, 2073 (निर्वाचन (कसूर तथा सजाय) ऐन, २०७३) are considered such as:
Prohibition on voting by impersonation: No person shall, by impersonation, obtain a ballot paper for polling or cast a vote, or cause be caste vote. If somebody commits the following activities with a fine of Twenty-five thousand rupees or six months of imprisonment or both depending upon the gravity of the crime.
Prohibition on making influence: Making obstruction, obstacle or intimidation, or causing such action to be made, with intent to prevent any person from making candidacy in an election or canvassing election or exercising the right to vote, using weapons or explosive substances and causing any kind of damage, Showing any kind of fear, threat, terror or menace. If somebody commits the following activities with a fine or imprisonment or both depending upon the gravity of the crime.
Prohibition on damaging character: No person acting on behalf of any political party or candidate or his or her agent or another person shall, with intent prejudice the results of the election, damage, in any manner, the character of any candidate or his or her family member, by making a false accusation of any matter which relates to the character or conduct of the candidate or his or her family member. If somebody commits the following activities with a fine of Fifty thousand rupees or one year of imprisonment or both depending upon the gravity of the crime.
Prohibition on the exchange of cash or kind: During the period of election, no one can give or agree to give any voter cash or kind as a present, reward, gratification, donation, or gift to exercise or refrain from exercising his/her right to vote or for the exercise of or refraining from exercising his/her right to vote; and even the voter shall not receive or agree to receive such cash or kind for himself or herself or any other person for that purpose. If somebody commits the following activities with a fine of Fifty thousand rupees or one year of imprisonment or both depending upon the gravity of the crime.
Employee not to influence the election: No Returning Officer, Polling Officer or another officer, employee or officer or security personnel deputed at any polling station or observer deputed by the Commission shall, in the course of performing any act of election, perform, or cause to be performed, any act in favor of or against any candidate in an election, except the act of giving his or her vote for any candidate pursuant to laws. If somebody commits the following act a fine of Fifty thousand rupees to the employee and a letter will be sent to the committed political party to stop the activity immediately.
Prohibition on disturbing the peace: It includes using loudspeakers, megaphones, or similar other devices, Playing musical instruments, singing, and dancing, holding public parties, demonstrating rallies or organizing assemblies or functions of any kind, whatsoever, or making or, causing to be made, commotion or manhandling or shouting. If somebody commits the following activities with a fine of Fifty thousand rupees.
Prohibition ongoing armed or using arms: No one can make movement taking arms, poisonous or explosive substances or stick, spear, Khukuri, gun, pistol or any other arms of a similar nature, exhibit or use or explode, or cause to be exhibited or used or exploded, such substances. If somebody commits the following activities with a fine of two lakhs rupees or three years of imprisonment or both depending upon the gravity of the crime.
Prohibition on receiving or giving ballot paper illegally:
If found committing the following activities with a fine of one lakh rupees or two years of imprisonment or both depending upon the gravity of the crime.
- Restriction on election Propagation
- Prohibition on making an entry in an unauthorized manner or causing obstruction to count of votes or other acts of election:
If found committing the following activities with a fine of fifteen thousand rupees.
- Prohibition on divulgence of secrecy
- Prohibition on the attempt, aid, or incitement
Expense Limit of the Candidates
Election Commission has limited the expenses of the candidates.
Power to Arrest
- The Returning Officer or Polling Officer or Monitoring Team may order any person who causes obstruction or attempts to or aids or abets to cause obstruction to the polling or counting of votes or any other act of election to refrain from doing such activities and to go out of that place.
- The Returning Officer, Polling Officer, or Monitoring Team may order the concerned security personnel to arrest any person who commits any act prohibited under Sections 3, 9, 10, 11, 12, or Section 14 and who does not carry out the order issued by the Returning Officer or Polling Officer or Monitoring Team pursuant to sub-section (1).
- The security personnel shall carry out the order issued by the Returning Officer, Polling Officer, or Monitoring Team pursuant to Sub-section (2).
- If the security personnel fails to carry out the order issued pursuant to sub-section (2), the Returning Officer, Polling Officer or Monitoring Team shall write to the Commission for departmental action against such security personnel.
Voting Rights of the Nationals
Article 84 (5) ) “Each citizen of Nepal who has completed the age of eighteen years shall have the right to vote in any one election constituency as provided for in the federal law.”
Voting rights are the fundamental component of democracy in any nation. Voting is one of the most important ways that citizens could affect how decisions are made by the government. The Nepalese Constitution provides that people with disabilities have the right to participate in governmental bodies. Voting is not only right but also the duty of every citizen of Nepal. To secure the voting rights of people there is an active voter name list called Matadata Namawali Ain, 2073
The flow of Independent Candidates
The increased number of independent candidates seems to be influenced by the results from the local elections which indicate a positive change in Nepal’s local politics. In the local election, 7 independent candidates were elected as mayor, including the capital Kathmandu, and 6 as chairpersons of rural municipalities. Along with 2 candidates were elected deputy mayors and 2 vice-chairpersons. Also, 136 emerged victorious as ward chairpersons, according to the election commission.
These encode the idea that urban Nepali voters, particularly young people, favor independent and less established politicians. The prioritized development agendas also seem to be changed in the last local election. The candidate with the agenda such as health, sanitation, education, water, and road construction got the priority rather than the false comments on rapid development like transforming Nepal into Switzerland, etc.
It seems that people want to vest the power to the more realistic young candidate rather than the idealistic dreamer. In the case of political parties, they are building pre-election alliances in the same way they did in previous elections. The creation of alliances significantly influenced the election outcome in 2017.
Smart newcomers have entered the battle as mainstream political parties fail to meet their promises and the public’s trust in them diminishes.