Federal democratic republic system that Nepal has adopted with the promulgation of the new constitution in 2015 has played a crucial role in bringing about social, economic and cultural transformation in the county. Landmark shift to republican order from monarchy, federalism from unitary state and secularism from Hinduism marked epochal changes in the society weighed down by structural injustice, inequality and exclusion. The political parties have been the agents of these changes. Political upheavals in 1951, 1990 and 2006 became possible when the parties joined hands to topple autocratic regimes of different hues. The people have been enjoying democratic rights and civil liberties because of a series of movements spearheaded by the parties. No doubt, the people have been at the forefront of these movements but the parties offered ideology, programmes, and organisational guidelines for the ceaseless struggles aimed at establishing equality, social justice, prosperity and happiness.
Nepali political parties have been ideologically divided. Basically, three streams of thoughts - Left, Right and Centre – are dominating the political landscape. There are also regional, ethnic and religious forces vying to secure their space in the national politics. Despite divergent political orientations, the parties hold common stance on federalism, secularism and republican set-up. They have developed broader understanding to institutionalise federalism, secularism and republic dispensation. Eight years have elapsed since the promulgation of the constitution. Two elections to three-tier governments – federal, provincial and local – were held, which not only endorsed the federal polity but also consolidated it. New governance structures have been created in line with the constitutional provisions. The distribution of administrative and financial powers between federal, provincial and local government have been effective to implement the principle of share rule and self-rule. However, the provinces still need vital laws to determine their rights, jurisdiction and functioning.
The parties have yet to work a lot to deliver on promises they made during the elections. Poverty, inflation, corruption and unemployment are roiling the people. Effective delivery of goods and services is essential to overcome their dissatisfaction. Some anti-systematic elements are rearing their heads against the system. They have accused the mainstream parties of being unable to live up to the public expectations and blamed the federal system for the economic hardships. The anti-systemic forces are organising on the planks of religion, nationality and ethnicity, which pose a challenge to the republican parties. They are active to exploit the people's frustrations and unleash chaos and instability in the country. The parties require forming unified position and act in unison to resolve the burning problems facing the common people.
The other day Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda called a meeting of major parties at his office Singha Durbar where they expressed their collective determination to defend the federal system and foil attempts against it. The Prime Minister said that the meeting was highly significant as it brought together the catalysts of change to engage in a review, which was an achievement in itself. CPN-Unified Socialist chairman Madhav Kumar Nepal underlined the need for unity and mutual collaboration among the parties to safeguard the exiting political system. Nepal stressed that parties should make concerted efforts to address the people's livelihood problems. There is no alternative to federal democratic republic but the political leadership requires translating their commitment and pledges into action so as to win the confidence of people and put the nation on the path of rapid economic growth.