November 27, 2013
Results of Nepal’s elections for the second Constituent Assembly were declared on November 25. The Nepali Congress (NC) emerged as the single largest party, winning 105 of the 240 seats under the first-past-the-post category. By comparison, the NC won only 37 seats in the 2008 elections.
Second place goes to the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), better known as the UML, with 92 seats, a party that won a mere 30 seats in the previous election.
The Maoists received a drubbing. Their party, which prevailed in the 2008 elections with 120 seats, limped in this time with a humiliating 26 seats.
And no one was a bigger loser than Prachanda, leader of the Maoists, who couldn’t even win a seat in the Kathmandu constituency – although he did win a seat, by a narrow margin, from the southeastern distict of Siraha. Meanwhile, three family members – his brother, his daughter and his sister-in-law – were handed defeats as well.
The day after the elections, Prachanda called a press conference and pronounced that rigging had taken place all over the country, that is was an international conspiracy and that he demanded that the vote-counting process be halted immediately, otherwise his party would boycott the second Constituent Assembly.
The international community was unimpressed by Prachanda’s conspiracy theory. India, the United States and the European Union congratulated Nepal for conducting elections in a free and transparent manner – significantly helped by beefed-up security forces – and urged Prachanda to concede defeat and accept the poll results.
Even China made a significant diplomatic gesture, which indicated its approval of what it perceived as transparently held elections: Yesterday, the Chinese Ambassador to Nepal, Wu Chuntai, called on Nepali Congress Vice-President, Ram Chandra Poudal, and conveyed his best wishes for future improvements in peace, stability and development works.
Prachanda faced dissidence within his own party as well. A high-level Maoist meeting was convened on Saturday, during which the party's two deputies - Baburam Bhattarai and Narayankaji Shrestha - did not buy Prachanda's idea to boycott the Constituent Assembly. The party's agenda was still relevant, Bhattarai said in a statement. "I still believe that the agenda put forth by the UCPN-Maoist regarding the progressive transformation of the state and economic prosperity still holds true," he added. Bhattarai said his party "would opt for a legal battle in the cases involving poll irregularities in some constituencies" and launch a struggle through the assembly to implement its agenda.
The other big losers in the elections were the Madhesi parties. MJF (Loktantrik), a regional party from the southern plains, managed to get just four seats and its splinter party MJF (Nepal) won two. Before the split, these two parties had won 52 seats in the Tarai-Madhes region bordering southern neighbor India.
Elections to the Constituent Assembly were held under two categories -- first-past-the-post and proportional representation. A total of 240 seats were allocated in the first category and 365 seats in the proportional representation category. Counting for the second category -- proportional representation – is still underway.
The remaining 26 seats in the 601-member Constituent Assembly will be nominated by the newly created Cabinet at a later date.