The protracted and costly political transition has almost come to an end with the successful accomplishments of all three-tiers– local, provincial and federal – elections in Nepal. It was constitutionally mandatory to conduct all three elections within the stated deadline of January 21, 2018.
The recently-held peaceful and broadly supported election serves as an important benchmark for the implementation of the new constitution – a concrete outcome document of long political struggle framed by the Constituent Assembly in 2015.
It is commendable that the Constitution promulgated through wide people's participation has come to full implementation through the elections marked with enthusiastic engagement of the citizens. These developments are also testimony to the fact that there has been a wide ownership and bye-in of the people to the recent political evolution of Nepal. So, it will not be an exaggeration to note that Nepal is ushering into a much-needed era of political stability after passing through an enduring transition that remained excruciatingly painful and volatile.
Now a course of politics is over. Nepal had to wait for 11 years to complete the preliminary political ecosystem paving the way for stability. The odyssey had begun with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord (CPA) in 21 November 2006. During the period, the country has made myriads of achievements from doing away with monarchy and promulgation of a new constitution through popular mandate to adopt a new federal democratic republican political system. It was a meticulous job to handle the rigorous situation to come to a day when there are virtual setups of local, provincial and federal governments. However, much are yet to be done to close the loop of the current political course which is now about logistical arrangements of the choices taken.
The developments so far create a huge opportunity for Nepal to keep the wheel going on the right track to yield more fruits in different fronts of politics, economy and well-being. But it will also be a litmus-test for the political parties to institutionalize the political achievements to strive for smooth governance of the country and bring concrete changes in the well-being and competitiveness of the people at large.
Democracy is an evolving process of development. Even the advanced democracies are facing newer challenges in bringing effective policies and programme to serve the interests of their people and country. It means democracy is always an unfinished mission which has a vast scope of work in terms of governance, development and transformation of lives.
"Democracy is the politics of policy which poses challenges to even the advanced countries like Canada", says Toby Mendel, Executive Director of Centre of Law and Democracy, a Canada-based think tank organization. When asked what should be the agenda of Nepal following the accomplishment of all the elections as part of the constitution implementation, he said, "Deepening democracy should be the prime agenda of the country which requires getting more real engagement from people in choosing policy and its implementation".
The politics of policy is a far cry in Nepal. If the recent elections are something to go by, it can be easily presumed that people cast their ballots to the political parties of their choice and not the policy pursued by them. "There are many agendas for Nepal's democracy to make people cast their votes to policy and not the political parties in a blanket way. Until and unless politics is taken as a policy, democracy may not move smoothly and bring fruits to the ordinary people and country", Mendel added.
Hopefully, Nepal will see the politics of policy in the next course which in a way would be reflected in people's life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. The Constitution has enshrined several positive tenets to that end which are accordingly to be translated into laws and policies. Hence, the country is waiting a crucial and critical time to make headways. Strengthening democratic institutions and developing economic base of different tiers of governments are much needed agenda to be pursued in Nepal from now onwards.
Though Nepal has carefully completed the preliminary political course putting transition to an end, the future move will also be equally challenging. If the nation fails to catch the right future course capitalizing the present opportunities, the emergence of proactive geo-politics may be costly to Nepal. So, there is no alternative to the governments and political parties – whosoever won the elections – to work for strengthening the country and people without compromising the fundamental values of democracy. Cautious measures and moves are awaited in future to prevent the country becoming a 'buffer zone' possibly resulting from geo-politics and to protect the integrity of sovereign Nepal.