Winning Voters’ Trust


The local election, which was successfully conducted nationwide in a single phase on Friday, marked another democratic feat for the country that embraced the federal system through the promulgation of new constitution in 2015. Now all eyes are focused on the results of elections that are pouring in. The vote counting in metropolises, sub-metropolises, and urban municipalities are still in initial phase. The ruling Nepali Congress (NC) has led in most of the places followed by the CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre. If we analyse the preliminary outcomes of vote counting, it provides changing voting pattern. The UML that emerged as the biggest winner in the local polls held in 2017 is now trailing behind the NC in the vote counting while the Maoist Centre is making steady rise. Other parties are trailing behind these three forces. 

This is the political implication of the election but it also points to other trends that need to be critically analysed to overcome the shortcomings of the existing governance structure and its efficacy. A worrying scenario is the low voter turnout in the election. The Election Commission (EC) has informed that around 64 per cent voters cast their ballot, which was a decline by 8.5 per cent compared with that of 2017 when 72.5 per cent voters had cast their votes. A total of 17,733,723 voters were eligible to cast their votes this time. The EC had estimated that voter turnout would hover around 65 to 70 per cent. In Kathmandu district, where the highest number of voters (637,775) reside, saw 52 per cent voter turnout. According to the news report of this daily, Chief Election Commissioner Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya also expressed his unhappiness over the lower turnout and admitted that there was a problem in the security arrangements because polls were held in a single phase. 

Voting in some polling centres was disrupted, which according to the EC, took place owing to the absence of needed cooperation from concerned political stakeholders.  Sporadic cases of violence alone did not dissuade the people from visiting the polling centres. Experts attribute the decreasing number of people going to cast their votes to their lack of adequate enthusiasm towards politics. The people may have become somewhat disenchanted due to lack of solid service delivery and rampant corruption cases. The people’s representatives should devote themselves to value-based politics and remain truly committed in words and deeds to public welfare and development to win hearts and minds of the masses. 

Many a time politicians tend to make tall promises but fail to fulfil them after assuming the public offices. When the people carrying the faith of the people fail to meet their commitments, this obviously frustrates the electorate. This may be a reason why the voters in some major cities, including Kathmandu and Janakpur have switched their loyalty towards independent candidates. Final results are yet to come but some independent aspirants are ahead of their rivals from major parties. A large number of youths have gone abroad for employment and studies. Now it is a challenge to attract the young people to politics that they dismiss as dirty game. The EC, civil society and media should educate the people about the importance of voting in democracy. It is only the informed citizens that can elect honest and competent candidates, thereby promoting good governance and strengthening public institutions. 

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