Election Silence Period


The country has entered a 48-hour silence period from Tuesday midnight in order to create an environment conducive to holding the local polls, slated for May 13, in a fair, free and peaceful manner. Within this period, the political parties, candidates and their supporters are not allowed to get involved in any poll campaign activities – physically and virtually. It starts 48 hours before the start of polling at 7:00 am and till the voting centres are closed at 5:00 pm. The Election Commission (EC) has completed all logistical and administrative preparations before enforcing the ‘silence period’ that is crucial to maintain the fairness and sanctity of the poll considered the cornerstone of the democratic polity. The legitimacy of the system is enhanced and broadened if the validity of the process and outcomes of the polls is not questioned. 

Chief Election Commissioner Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya has said that the silence period has been announced to enable the people to cast their ballots with confidence. It is the responsibility of political parties, their candidates, civil servants, civil society organisations, media and voters to strictly follow the rules and instructions introduced to make the silent period effective and meaningful. The political parties and their supporters should show discipline and civic virtues necessary for the credible elections. All stakeholders should respect the election code of conduct to discourage unscrupulous activities that can take place during this period, misleading the people and undermining the impartial electoral process. The candidates require removing all their respective election symbols, publicity materials, including posters and banners displayed within 300 meters of the polling booths. 

The EC has banned the use of stickers, caps, logos, bags and scarfs among other things that symbolise particular candidates or political parties. Likewise, they must refrain themselves from carrying out poll campaigns via any kind of digital platform such as Facebook and Twitter. They should also delete the sponsored posts displayed in their social sites. These days, the social networking sites have become very powerful to influence the moods and opinions of the masses. They have been used for both creative and malicious purposes, too. Fake news, disinformation, lies and rumours travel fast through the social sites, with negative impacts on the election process. Bearing in mind the role of various social and digital media, the EC has asked the cyber bureau experts of Nepal Police and the Nepali Army to monitor them so that their users do not violate the poll code. The media should not only follow the poll conduct but also inform and encourage the public to implement it.

Those who are found to be involved in breaching the poll code will be fined up to Rs. 100,000. In case of candidates, s/he may even lose candidacy. The EC has directed the Chief District Officers to observe the compliance of the directives issued for the silence period and bring the violators to book if necessary. It has also established the central, and district and local level mechanisms to make sure that all concerned have adhered to the rules of silence period. Election silence period is a time the voters reflect on choosing the right candidates while the candidates assess the poll preparations and the EC complete the remaining works. As the campaign silence is important for the fair election, it is the duty of all to follow the poll code whole-heartedly.

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