Nepal Parliamentary Election under the federal structure took place on November 20, 2022 (4 Magshir 2079 BS). Elections were held all over the nation to elect the House of Representatives (HoR) and Provincial Assemblies (PA). This was the second HoR and PA election since the promulgation of Nepal’s constitution in 2015, which initiated the country’s decentralization process.
A total of 17,988,570 people were eligible to vote in the elections this year. The voting began at 7 AM local time at over 22,000 polling centers and closed at 5 PM and around 61% voter turnout in elections. The voter turnout was significantly lower as compared to the past two elections; 77% in 2013 and 78% in 2017. Over 22,000 polling centers were set up for the November 20 elections in which 5,907 candidates were in the fray.
The Election Commission of Nepal mobilized 2,76,000 staff for conducting the election in all 77 districts. Some 300,000 security personnel were deployed to facilitate peaceful polling.
The make-or-break issue in this election was expected as there were 220,000 newly registered voters compared to 2017, as a result, new political waves could be seen in Nepal. In order to observe post-election activities, a questionnaire was prepared to consist of issues like the independent candidates, election preparation, candidate selection, and many more into it. Additionally, the voters filled up the questionnaire covering all aspects of election observation.
The questionnaire had 9 questions depending on the current political scenarios of Nepal. The whole questionnaire was made in such a way that all the age groups would fit in and they could send their personal voting experiences. More responses were from the age group 18 to 35 years old. The questions are listed below:
What motivated you to come out and vote?
Nepal has seen political instability for quite some time now. None of the 29 Prime Ministers have completed their reign of 5 years since 2046 BS (1990 AD) and there is a frequent change of Government in Nepal. Many political revolutions have occurred in the country since 2063 BS (2007 AD) but none so far have been able to meet the needs and desires of netizens.
Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli (KP Oli), the then PM of Nepal and chairperson of the erstwhile Nepal Communist Party (NCP), dissolved the House of Representatives (HoR) on December 20, 2020. The citizens took to the streets opposing the prime minister’s move. A writ petition was filed at the Supreme Court opposing the dissolution of the HoR. On February 23, 2021, the Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court, issuing a verdict upon the writ, invalidated the dissolution of the HoR and reinstated it instead. This did not solve the political instability in the country. Amidst such pressures, on February 8, 2022, the Government of Nepal announced the local-level elections as well as the parliamentary election in the country.
Many people were not very happy with the election announcement amid the crisis so in order to know what motivated them to come out and vote in such a situation the first question on the questionnaire was regarding the same. The majority of answers were related to voting rights as a citizen but moreover, it was also associated with people looking for a change in the nation, especially wanting to see the youths in politics as everyone seemed so tired of our senior politicians.
To summarize this most responses were about the hope for change in the current situation.
What changes do you expect from this election? (Please write a few words on it)
The first question directly relates to the second one here as the motivation to come out and vote is for the expectation to have better results. Considering the current situation that the nation is facing, it will take more than 10 years for Nepal to be a politically stable country.
Every politician is busy making room for their party to make a personal profit. Therefore the expectations of people from this election were very high. The responses received were also quite similar. The ratio of people who wanted more youths in politics was higher than the one who wanted to see the same parties ruling the government. This political shift in the country could bring many new youths into the parliament.
What was your mindset while choosing a candidate to vote for?
This question came with multiple choices:
- “Strict party orientation”
- “Independent Candidates”
- “Because I liked the symbol”
- “Sensible and promising Manifesto”.
The highest chosen answer was “Sensible and promising Manifesto” (56.2%)which showed that this time the voters had done their research while casting the vote. There were many candidates participating in the election and choosing one right person as a leader is still a tough job to do. so the conclusion was people have started doing their research unlike before.
However, no matter how much ever everyone claims that we need young and educated politicians, the second highest chosen option was “Strict party orientation” (26.3%) which concluded that old political parties still have loyal followers on their side.
In the last Local-Level election many people voted for the independent candidates as well and the biggest achievement was an independent candidate was appointed as the mayor of Kathmandu Metropolitan which gave hope to various other independent candidates to compete in the Parliamentary Election too. With the hope of getting new faces in the parliament, many people seemed to have voted for the independent candidates as well. Checking the response 21.1% of people chose “Independent Candidates” as their preference for this election.
Do you think the victory of Balen Shah made you hopeful about the win of other independent candidates?
Balen Shah, the current mayor of Kathmandu Metropolitan won the Local-Level election as an independent candidate, which is why many people hoped for independent candidates to reserve their seats in the Parliament too.
People voted for either of the followings
- Yes, it’s the time for a new generation and new approach
- No, the party system will take over eventually
The majority of respondents i.e 78.9% chose the first option which clearly shows that Nepalese now have a hunger for political change.
Meanwhile, the remaining 21.1% showed that there are people who were still in favor of political parties. Political parties have been doing a lot of campaigns to make people stick to their agendas but the educated mass of youth seemed not to have voted for the old and wrecking institutions.
How important do you think is to cast a vote?
From the data provided by the election commission only 61% of people voted in this election which shows the people were not really interested in who ruled the country for the upcoming 5 years. If there was a “No vote” option maybe people would go for that too. To address this and get more on the topic this particular question had three options:
- It is the most powerful tool given by Democracy
- It has always been the same so doesn’t matter
- I wanted to experience it for once
The response received was surprisingly good as everyone selected “It is the most powerful tool given by Democracy” with 100% response. The aware citizens of the nation still believe in the power of democracy and are rooting for a better future for their nation.
Though the nationwide vote count might only be 61% with the data collected it is clear how democracy can still bring people out of their homes to vote and hope for a better future.
What difference do you find between the last election and this one? (Please write a few words on it)
There were many responses related to how youth below 20 years of age are also now getting involved in politics. Just 5-6 years ago the count of youths involved in politics was comparatively less than this year. The trend of youths finding politics to be supposedly boring was one of the reasons for it. But in this election more educated and sensible youth participation was observed.
A few impressive responses from youths were how they influenced their family to support the independent candidates with greater vision rather than backing leading political parties for yesteryears.
Do you think the voting system should get digitized?
Well, it is not hidden how expensive it is to conduct an election. Even though we have all the new technologies being brought in Nepal we haven’t been able to adopt the digitized voting system.
The options for the questions were,
89.5% selected “Yes” while 10.5% selected “Maybe” and none selected “No”. From the data it can be stated that people are positive about digitalizing the voting system because it is true that digitization alone can bring the cost done massively in terms of printing and paper-making.
And the people who voted “Maybe” might be unsure because there have been instances in developed countries where the votes have been hacked. But nevertheless, the technology can certainly be improved for secured digital voting.
Do you think it is a good idea to include Nepalese outside Nepal to cast votes during elections?
Many Nepalese who live abroad in search of better opportunities are eligible and want to vote in elections in their home country. However, Nepal Government hasn’t accepted the concept of involving Nepali citizens living in abroad in Nepal elections and the topic is debatable.
In order to know the thoughts of the politically aware groups the question had three multiple choices,
- Yes this is the best idea to bring a revolution
- No, I don’t think this is a good idea
- Maybe I am not so sure
78.9% selected chose the first option, “Yes this is the best idea to bring a revolution”. It shows the need for change in the country. For decades political parties have been ruling the nation, and we can’t expect people to miraculously give up on the parties they had faith in for any reason suddenly. This is why those parties have always been in the leading position but this chain can be broken by allowing the people living in abroad to vote in the elections directly. Because people living in a foreign land would know what political shifts Nepal needs by gauging the life they are living abroad versus what they had (not) in their homeland.
While the remaining 21.1% selected “Maybe I am not so sure”, can still be taken as a good sign as long as they do not select “No I don’t think this is a good idea”.
Please mention your age
The last question on the questionnaire was about the age of the voters in order to mark the age groups. 78.9% of people belonged to 18-35 years and 21.1% to 36-60 years. The data shows that the participation of youth in politics is higher in this election.