Challenges Of Coalition Government

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Despite sporadic violence in some booths, the November 20 election process in Nepal has finally come to a close successfully. Since no single party has been able to garner the majority seats in the House of Representatives (HoR), people have begun to speculate which party would lead the imminent coalition government and who would be the next Prime Minister for this tenure, hoping to see better Nepal as they always have dreamed before. The election outcome should be a matter of pride and happiness for all Nepalis.  

However, the coalition government has to work under Damocles' sword with the possibility of any-moment collapse. The government formed by an unnaturally forged alliance will be a fragile one with a precarious balance that might fall soon after its two years constitutional eligibility to rule without the threat of facing a no-confidence motion from oppositional forces. The collapse does not seem improbable if we look back at the track record of more than three decades of Nepal’s political history.

Two major challenges  

Any political being can easily understand that the upcoming coalition government will encounter at least two major challenges. First, it has to manage state affairs, working with ministers representing different political groups with divergent political views. The forthcoming ruling alliance will comprise several parties belonging to opposing political camps of what they call democracy and communism. The alliance, no matter which party leads, is thus a juxtaposition of distinct political groups forged to form a coalition government, ignoring their ideologies and principles. The missioned alliance of parties for a short time is no wonder. For the erstwhile government, there was one common agenda – to keep the constitutional provision intact by saving the life of HoR for the stipulated period. 

Given the situation threatened by HoR dissolution by the then Prime Minister twice, the five-party alliance, albeit with divergent political ideologies, was valid to some extent. But the same thing that has worn threadbare now cannot be the main agenda for yet another five years, let alone more. Therefore, independent thinkers have reasonable grounds to doubt that the two forces that have so long undergone animosities throughout history cannot by any means become allies for a longer time.

Second, this government will have to establish an inflexible system of good governance, which has been oft-talked but never so well addressed. It has to help depersonalise the extremely personalised politics that has worsened, especially in the past two decades. In these years, influential political leaders have operated their parties to serve their interests – chiefly to get to power, make decisions in favour of those who help them in the election, and appease the outside forces that might put obstacles in their way. When they are in power, they have been allegedly engaged in concentrating the state resources on developing their constituencies to satisfy their voters rather than for the nation's sustainable development as a whole.

Further, they have been severely criticised for indulging in corruption scandals for personal benefit, for the benefit of their family and relatives, and for the convenience of their staunch followers. They have failed to deliver proper services on the government's behalf, as they lack a sense of accountability to the nation and its people. Let these accusations be untrue, yet they have become non-credible political actors to their most detestable discredit. It can thus be a herculean task for them to turn the wheel of discredited politics. 

While the first challenge relates to the ideological problem, the second is attitudinal. Political analysts argue that all politics begins with a political ideology based on a solid foundation. In our case, only the Nepali Congress (NC) and the Nepali communist parties, though divided into different sects, have been guided by fixed ideologies, no matter how inadequately they have explained and propagated them to the complete understanding of their cadres. If NC follows the ideology of Democratic Socialism that originated first in the west and then was borrowed and explained by BP Koirala, Nepali communists tend to follow the ideology of New Democracy first coined by Mao Zedong in China and then borrowed and explained in some detail by Pushpalal, despite in varying forms and degrees. Therefore, to avert the risk of the second challenge, the first has to be addressed sincerely. 

Divergent ideologies

However, NC and at least three communist parties have been connected to what they call the left-democratic alliance for nearly one and a half years. Not to blame them as much as they deserve; it is, nonetheless, tougher for them to justify their unjustifiable juxtaposition than they think they can. This is mainly because two divergent ideologies cannot reach a convergent point as the rule of science dictates. Yet again, they are compelled by circumstances to work together if only to make themselves look taller than others without really being so. 

Indeed, the parties guided by divergent ideologies cannot merge without being one in views and attitudes. But still, they can find common ground to work for the time being. In our case, good governance and national development can be the most agreeable points of the working agenda so that they can converge divergent views of different political groups for a fixed purpose. For this, the coalition partners must sit together and discuss to identify the most common points they can address jointly. If they continue to blame the then Premier for violating the constitutional provisions and claim they only have the right and responsibility to safeguard the constitution, then that does not suffice. 

(The author is the chairman of Molung Foundation. bhupadhamala@gmail.com)

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