Had SPA – ´Seven-Party Alliance of Nepal´, chosen Open-List method of proportional representation electoral system for constituent assembly elections instead of Closed-List, political parties could have been challenged to nominate their candidates more democratically. Since no political parties within and outside of SPA, nor any ethnic organization, nor the civil society members, nor the think-tank intellectuals or electoral experts, nor the mainstream news media took the responsibility to question the ´Blank-candidate´ party-list ballots of Closed-List method of PR electoral system the party monopoly over candidate nomination is inevitable.
Why did SPA political leaderships choose the mixed electoral systems by combining – ´First-Past the Post´ and ´Closed-List PR´ electoral systems for the historic national constituent assembly elections? Obviously, it was their political decision basically empowered by their leaderships´ self-interest to manipulate the party candidate nomination whether it reflects the party priority or not. Since almost all political party organizations are run on intra-party hierarchy based on personality-cult, party lobby and favoritism the choice of such electoral method is obvious. Once again the non-transparent democratic practice within the party organizations based on party priorities under this choice of Closed-List method of PR electoral system could not completely help to achieve the mandate of the inclusive democracy. Political societies´ feudal mindsets and its elements have not yet completely left the scene.
On the contrary, why SPA leaderships failed to choose more democratic proportional representation electoral method such as Open-List that can process inclusive diverse representations and justify parties´ candidate nomination procedures transparently democratic is one of the crucial elements in Nepali party politics to be scrutinized by political leaderships themselves in order to find out feudal elements in their choice of democracy. The practice of self-doubt has thus become essential for them to reflect the fact that what they know is not sufficient and what they assume to know may be irrelevant. Their advocacy for democracy needs further critical self-examination and their choice for democratic processes need consultations.
For instance, when the issue of PR came up for the electoral system choice as alternative to the first-part-the-post electoral tradition of feudal Nepal both SPA leaderships - the one which purposed and the others which opposed seemed confused because they were lacking in-depth information on proportional representation electoral system. In addition to how mainstream media of Nepal unethically misrepresented the irrelevant statements of the political leaderships regarding proportional electoral system without scrutiny is the issue now for newly elected bodies of the Federation of Nepalese Journalists to address with the new guideline for maintaining minimum media standard. However, political leaderships are solely responsible for the choice of mixed electoral system and its forms.
For instance, could SPA have chosen the Closed-List PR electoral system had it been scrutinized with the authentic information processing? Clearly people would have doubt that the method is prone to the political parties´ monopoly over the candidate nomination. People could have advocated Open-List method of PR electoral system to see the list of individual candidates of each party on every ballot nominated prior to the elections. Transparency is essential to achieve proportional inclusiveness in democracy for which the choice of an appropriate method is fundamental. It is therefore reasonable for organizations like Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities criticize political parties for failure to nominate candidates with an inclusive PR list. As a result, more than thirty ethnic minorities are about to be excluded in CA deprived of participation in nation´s new constitution drafting processes.
Discontent persists therefore across every political party from main – NC, UML, Maoist to the most unpopular over Closed-List party nomination. This means parties are prone to make choice based on the status qua – party hierarchy and favoritism because almost all political party leaderships of Nepal are born Hindu or ethnic feudal no matter how much they have modified themselves with democracy, socialism and communism but it is all their rhetoric to hypnotize party supporters. The best way to brush off their rhetoric is by choosing the most transparent and scientific methods of democracy that oblige political parties to practice maximum transparency within their intra-party organizations.
It is obvious for political parties to misunderstand proportional representation electoral system with Closed-list ballot method because electorates vote on ´Blank-Candidate´ ballots to their choice of political party. By rule party-list for the candidacy nomination in the proportional representation electoral method must be made final prior to general elections based on a single candidate or the multiple candidate constituencies. For instance, if a multiple candidate of sixth number constituency of Kathmandu has four seats to compete then each party which is competing must have four candidates on the list nominated prior to the election not negotiable for any change to be made with Election Commission. This means in the list, for example, NC has on the top of its list the first number candidate name of Narhari Acharya, second Sujata Koirala, third Gobinda Joshi and forth Gopal Khadaka. If NC secures 50% votes of the constituency then first and second candidates on the list a re elected. There should be no room for hanky-panky party business for manipulating candidates up and down. If any party tried then by rule it loses the candidacy.
If the choice of proportional representation electoral method is the Open-List then names of the candidates are open to the electorates to choose on the party basis with or without favoring individual candidates. Even in the Closed-List the list of the candidates on the party priority grade basis must be nominated prior to the elections not negotiable or unchangeable in the order the candidates are prioritized by each political party. It seems as if rules of proportional representation are not completely observed by the political parties and perhaps Election Commission failed to enforce the regulations strictly. In many cases, political parties failed in understanding the procedures of the proportional electoral system in term of nomination even though EC mandated party-list prior to CA elections.
The choice of democratic electoral processes that perpetuates our old-feudal way of thinking will not establish the culture of democracy to address nation´s overall diverse and marginalized society that needs systems and methods of inclusive democracy. The choice is ours because we are the ones who should know ourselves – the way we are brought up to think traditionally with socio-familial propaganda. It is rather irresponsible if not hypocritical to oppose feudal establishment yet not to change our behavior socio-politically. It is oxymoron, for example, if not unethical to mandate inclusive democracy yet fail to choose right electoral systems and methods that are more inclusive in their practice.
We cannot keep perpetuating our socio-familial habits of political propaganda to convolute democracy with our feudal stream of consciousness both Hindu and indigenous. If we do then we must be morally responsible in justifying them with false analogies and examples such as Nepali human rights advocates coming to America getting emotional about the Electoral College of the United States´ electoral system or the super-delegates and delegates of the primary elections of the Democratic Party. Basically, Nepali politics and democracy has not yet evolved to reach near to make such analogy for their justifications. The Electoral College is an electoral mathematics or a method used to resolve the tie in general elections. The number of the Electoral College is based on the demographic of the electorates or popular-vote of each state. That is how the United States´ general election is able to avoid re-runs. It is time for us to double check our stiff feudal stream of consciousness tha t takes position of a knower. We have yet to evolve in shortcut to take a long journey of democratic culture to the extent for each one of us to be able to comply with the rule of law decently.
(Note from the Nepal Horizons Editorial Team: The views and opinion expressed in this article are that of the author and not of NHC. We request individuals with interest in Nepal to submit their views on contemporary Nepalese issues to the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Pictures of contributors or images that relate to submissions are welcome)