Surprise Results in Nepal Elections

Posted by Colin Corbridge on Mon, 21 Apr 2008 | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

Despite the widespread security concerns in the run up to the recent elections in Nepal, the day itself passed reasonably peacefully and saw a huge turnout across the country. Whilst the relative success of the process came as a surprise to most observers, an even greater shock has been caused by the results of the polls.

Of the 240 seats available via the ‘first-past-the-post’ system, the vast majority have been declared, with the Maoist Party securing 120 seats so far. They have also secured around 30% of those seats assigned by proportional representation. This far exceeds the predictions made by analysts and even surpasses the expectations of the Maoists themselves. The former rebels, who waged war on government forces during ten years of conflict, now look set to win three times more seats than the next largest party in the new assembly. It looks unlikely, however, that they will gain sufficient seats to secure an absolute majority. The final results are expected to be declared in the coming days.

Despite the widespread suffering caused during the insurgency, the election results appear to represent a vote of confidence in the Maoist’s ability to bring much needed change in the country. As has been the case in many parts of the world, those who were once committed to violence as a means of bringing change are now being given a democratic mandate to lead peacefully. There are even whisperings that the US may soon lift their ‘terrorist tag’ on the Maoists.

The abolition of the monarchy is likely to be one of the first moves of the new assembly, paving the way for Nepal to become a democratic republic. Maoist leaders have made it clear that they expect King Gyanendra to stand down voluntarily, rather than waiting to be forced out of office.

Roger Cooke, CMS Ireland’s Regional Mission Partner for Asia, says that these elections represent a genuine opportunity for Nepal and our partners there to move forward with confidence and address the issues associated with widespread poverty.

“We continue to pray that the optimism associated with this new dawning will not be quashed by political realities, but that there will be hope for the people of Nepal as they look to a better future. Please join us in praying for our partners and for the ongoing political process.”

If you would like to learn more about our work in Asia please contact Roger Cooke.