Nepal promulgated its new constitution on Asojh 3, 2072 BS (20 September 2015) initiating the country’s transition to a federal state. After the second local election which was held on Baisakh 30, 2079 BS (13 May 2022), Nepal is set to have a parliamentary election on Mangsir 4, 2079 BS (20 November 2022).
The election provides a new opportunity for people’s participation in government, especially for over three million Nepali youth who are now eligible to participate in their first election. After the people’s movement of 2005/2006, Nepal opted for the mixed electoral system instead of the plurality/majority electoral system in order to manage the political conflict and to address the religious, cultural, and social diversity of the country.
The elections of the Constituent Assembly held in 2008 and 2013 were held adopting the mixed electoral system.
What is the Mixed Electoral System?
The use of two different electoral systems at the same time is known as a mixed electoral system. The Constitution provisioned the first past the post system for the election of the Local Level, and the mixed electoral system of first past the post and proportional representation for the election of State Assembly and House of Representatives. It is provisioned that the President, Vice-President, and members of the National Assembly are to be elected through an Electoral College.
What is Federal Parliament?
Article 83 of the Constitution has provisioned about the Federal Parliament. There shall be one Federal Parliament comprising two houses named as House of Representatives and National Assembly, which shall be called the Federal Parliament. This type of parliament is known as Bicameral Legislature. There shall be a total of 334 members in the Federal Parliament, out of which the House of Representatives will have 275 members and the National Assembly will have 59 members.
How is the House of Representatives formed?
Article 84 of the Constitution has provisioned the formation of the House of Representatives. The House of Representatives shall consist of 275 members to be elected as follows: –
– One hundred sixty-five members are elected through the first past the post electoral system, with one member from each of the 165 electoral constituencies delimited based on population and geographic convenience, and specialty;
– One hundred ten members to be elected from political parties through a proportional representation electoral system that considers the whole country as one single electoral constituency;
– In this way, 60% of the members of the House of Representatives will be elected through the first past the post and 40% of members shall be elected through the proportional electoral system.
How is the National Assembly formed?
The Constitution has provisioned the National Assembly shall be formed comprising of the following members:-
- Fifty-six members – eight from each State. Among the eight members, at least three must be Women, one Dalit, and one member with a disability or from a minority group from each State.
- Three persons including one woman, nominated by the President on the recommendation of the Government of Nepal; ( Article 16)
- There shall be altogether 59 (fifty-nine) members in the National Assembly.
Who are the voters for the election of members of the National Assembly?
An Electoral College shall be formed to elect the members of the National Assembly. The members of the Electoral College shall comprise members of the State Assembly, the Chairpersons, and Vice-Chairpersons of the Village Bodies and Mayors and Deputy Mayors of Municipalities. The weightage of the vote of members of the State Assembly, the Chairpersons and Vice-Chairpersons of the Village Bodies, and Mayors and Deputy Mayors of Municipalities shall differ as per the Federal Law.
Who are the voters for the election of the President and Vice-President?
Article 62 of the Constitution provides for the election of the President. There shall be an Electoral College comprising the members of the Federal Parliament and members of the State Assembly for the election of the President and Vice-President.
The Constitution states that the lack of election of State Assembly in any State shall not be the sole ground to stop the formation of the Electoral College for the election of the President. Members of the Electoral College shall elect the President and Vice-President through a secret ballot. The weightage of the vote of members of the Federal Parliament and of the State Assembly would be different as per the Federal Law.
The President and Vice-President will be elected by an absolute majority of the then-existing members of the Electoral College. In case any candidate could not secure an absolute majority of the total votes in the first round, the second round election shall be held between the two candidates securing the highest number of votes in the first round of election and the candidate securing more than fifty percent of the total votes shall be elected. In case none of the candidates is able to secure more than fifty percent of the total votes even in the second round, the third round of the election shall be held.
In such elections, the candidate who secures the majority of the valid casted votes shall be elected as President and Vice-President. The term of office of the President and Vice-President shall be of five years.
Who is eligible to run as a Candidate for Parliamentary Elections?
Any Nepali citizen who was at least 21 years old on the date of candidate registration (24 April 2022); is a registered voter in the relevant ward of the local unit; is not disqualified by any law, and has registered with Election Commission Nepal as a candidate may contest the election. Candidates may run as independents or be nominated by a political party registered in the respective wards.
Who can vote in Parliamentary Elections?
Only citizens registered on the voters’ list can vote in these elections. Article 6 of the Electoral Rolls Act (2017) states that to be eligible as a voter, a person must be:
- A Nepali citizen;
- At least 18 years old; and
- A permanent resident of the relevant ward.
The Election Commission Nepal (ECN) recently announced its decision to allow Nepali citizens to register on the voters’ list before they turn 18 and to vote as long as they are 18 years old on Election Day.
How many registered voters are there?
There are 17,733,723 registered voters in Nepal: 8,992,010 men, 8,741,530 women, and 183 individuals identifying as “other.” These numbers include those who registered on the voter roll by the 7 February 2022, registration deadline and who are over 18 or will turn 18 by the day before Election Day.
What is the Election Management Body?
Elections in Nepal are administered by the Election Commission Nepal (ECN), a constitutionally mandated independent body. The ECN is headed by Chief Election Commissioner Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya and includes four other commissioners: Ishwori Prasad Paudyal, Dr. Janaki Kumari Tuladhar, Ram Prasad Bhandari and Sagun Shamsher J.B Rana.
The ECN’s work is supported by a secretariat with 114 full-time staff in its headquarters in Kathmandu, 63 staff in seven provincial election offices, and 490 field staff in 70 district election offices.
According to Nepal’s Constitution, the ECN is empowered to “conduct, supervise, direct and control the elections of the President, Vice-President, members of the Federal Parliament, members of the provincial assemblies and members of the local level.
What are the provisions for getting a Political Party registered for the purpose of recognition for election?
A political party willing to seek recognition for the purpose of election shall have to get its name registered with the Election Commission having fulfilled the necessary procedures. A political party shall have to submit the statute of the party, manifesto and annual audit report. There must be a provision in the statute of a political party that the election of each of the officials of the Federal and State levels (of the party) will be held at least once every five years. Provided that in case no election could be held within the period of five years due to special circumstances, the statute may provide that the election may be held within six months after the five years.
- The Executive Committees of various levels of the party must have inclusive participation reflecting the diversity of Nepal as envisaged in the Constitution.
- The name, objective, symbol, or flag of the party must not undermine the religious and communal integrity of the country or must not be of divisive nature.
The steps to follow while voting in the election
- To vote the voters must have the Voters Identity Card and their name listed on the voters’ list. For this, the voters can go to their respective ward office and check the name and their voting center.
- The Election representative at the voting center tallies the name of the voter on their list of data. If the name matches the representatives apply ink on the voter’s left thumbnail. It is proof that the voters are now allowed to cast a vote.
- The voters get the ballot papers containing the symbol of political parties participating in the election.
- The voters must indicate their vote on their favorite candidate’s election symbol with a stamp, the swastika in Nepal.
- Once the vote is marked they must fold the paper mindfully so that they don’t smudge the stamp. Drop the folded ballot paper into the ballot box.
- The voters must remember that they aren’t allowed to carry phones, weapons, or stationery items inside the voting centers and must quietly exit after doing their duty.