Today (May 13) is an important day for Nepali people as they are electing their representatives in 753 local levels nationwide. This is the second local election being held after the introduction of the federal democratic constitution in 2015. The first three-tier elections (local, provincial and federal) were held in 2017. Voters are having a valuable opportunity to vote for representatives to fill a total of 35,221 positions from a total of 145,112 candidates this year. As many as 79 political parties are in the local poll fray while a host of independent candidates have filed their nominations for different positions. There are altogether 21,000 polling booths across the nation which remain open from 7am to 5 pm.
According to the Election Commission (EC), a total of 1,77,33,723 voters have registered their names for the local election this year. More than three million Nepali youths are now eligible to participate in their first voting this year. The commission has made arrangements for all Nepali citizens to register their names on the voters’ list before they turn 18. They can vote provided they are 18 years old on the Election Day. With this provision, some 200,000 more young Nepalis are expected to be able to cast their votes in this election. Local poll holds a lot of significance because the local governments work more closely with people than the federal and provincial ones. It is needless to mention that the local polls help strengthen the grassroots democracy and development. Only robust local government institutions can work as per the needs and aspirations of the people.
Stage has been set for casting votes. Ballot papers have reached every local level. With the inclusion of the Nepal Police, Armed Police Force (APF), Nepali Army (NA) and the National Investigation Department, a unified security system has been in place to help hold the local elections in a free, fair and fearless environment. The NA has been entrusted with the responsibility of transporting and protecting the ballot papers and ballot boxes. Over 20,000 observers belonging to 68 different organisations are monitoring the polls this time. The election body and the political parties have appealed to voters to actively take part in the poll and utilise it as a festival because their voting decides the fate of the aspiring candicates. People also seem to be quite enthusiastic to take part in the elections. A large number of voters have returned to their respective home towns from different parts of the country to exercise their adult franchise. Hundreds of thousands of such voters have left the Kathmandu Valley alone for their villages in the past few days. This indicates the likelihood of increased voter turnout.
The EC has rescheduled local polls in some constituencies following the demise of some candidates. It has tried its best to enforce the poll code of conduct as rigorously as possible. Considering the potential disturbances, the government has deployed more security personnel in the areas that are deemed more sensitive from security point of view. It has attempted to ensure that necessary security measures are taken effectively at polling centres. Such steps may ensure the openness, freedom, and integrity of voting. As this poll is an important national event, it is the responsibility of all the stakeholders, including the political parties, voters, candidates, media, security personnel and common citizens to cooperate actively for its success.