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The village of Hewa, Solududhkunda Municipality 1, Solukhumbu, in monsoon (28 July 2022)
Final result of HoR elections 2022, based on the Election Commission website

14/07/2024: Absurdities of political parties : Nepali leaders take pride in becoming prime ministers often, leaving behind no imprints of their governments, by Lok Raj Baral (kp), Is Proportional Representation the Cause of Frequent Government Changes in Nepal?, by Hari Prasad Shrestha (rep) [The problem is not the PR system as such, but the fact that it is solely in the hands of a few top politicians. They are the real problem because they also misuse the direct election system as an anti-inclusion tool! This is one of the main reasons for political stagnation, constant changes of government and corruption!], Public Interest Litigation versus Publicity Interest Litigation, by Bivek Chaudhary (kh), Infrastructure Cooperation a Leverage of Soft Power and a Challenge, by Binoj Basnyat (kh), KP Sharma Oli to be appointed prime minister today : Nepali Congress and CPN-UML working to prepare their lists of ministers for the swearing-in on Monday, by Anil Giri (kp), UML Chair Oli appointed Prime Minister, swearing-in on Monday (kh), President appoints KP Sharma Oli as prime minister : This is Oli’s fourth stint as the country’s chief executive (kp) [The coup-monger of 2021 is back in office. This is what they call constitutional democracy in Nepal!], Observers cast doubt over the longevity of Congress-UML coalition : The collaboration may not be smooth sailing as the two parties are the major competitors in national politics, they say, by Purushottam Poudel (kp)

13/07/2024: Prime Minister Dahal loses vote of confidence in House : Dahal lost his position as only 63 lawmakers gave him the vote of confidence, less than half the majority figure of 138 in the 275-member House, by Binod Ghimire (kp), Oli claims prime minister’s post with Congress backing : Dahal ousted after losing trust vote. President to appoint Oli PM by Sunday, by Anil Giri (kp), The Challenges of NC-UML Coalition, by Narayan Manandhar (rep), UML Chairman Oli to be appointed PM on Sunday morning, swearing-in ceremony in  afternoon (rep), Bolstering Sovereignty Of Public Goods, by Dev Raj Dahal (rn), New alliance of UML and NC demand resignation of Sudurpaschim CM Sodari (kh) [Long live the centralised state!]

Editorial comments
What about Nepal’s democracy? Political parties, elections, federalism, secularism and social inclusion, by Karl-Heinz Krämer. Khabarhub, June 3, 2024 [a similar version of this article has been published in Nepal Observer 87, June 1, 2024]
Nepal’s Struggle with Federalism, by Karl-Heinz Krämer. Khabarhub, April 12, 2024 [Based on the article "What about the federal state in Nepal?", Nepal Observer 86, April 6, 2024]
Cultivated instability instead of positive renewal, by Karl-Heinz Krämer. Nepal Observer 85, March 4, 2024. Secularism and social inclusion or Hindu state and monarchy?, by Karl-Heinz Krämer. Nepal Observer 84, November 27, 2023. [A slightly revised version of this article has been published on 29 November 2023 on the online portal Khabarhub]
Discussion on changing the electoral system: Is social inclusion falling out of reach?, by Karl-Heinz Krämer. Nepal Observer 83, June 19, 2023. [A slightly revised version of this article has been published on 19 June 2023 on the online portal Khabarhub]
Nepal's democracy: Political chaos and its effects, by Karl-Heinz Krämer. Nepal Observer 82, May 9, 2023
How inclusive is the Nepali state? Let's ask the 2021 census!, by Karl-Heinz Krämer (see also Khabarhub 30/03/2023) Let's celebrate National Oligarchy Day!, by Karl-Heinz Krämer [see Khabarhub 21/02/2023]
Lack of rule of law, unconstitutionality and infighting among top politicians: what about political stability?, by Karl-Heinz Krämer. Nepal Observer 80, 3 February 2023 [see also Khabarhub 05/02/2023]
Parlamentswahlen in Nepal: Dämpfer für die etablierten Parteien und Politiker, von Karl-Heinz Krämer. Nepal Observer 79, 13. December 2022
The ambition of politicians and the will of voters : Attempt of a first election analysis, by Karl-Heinz Krämer. 27 November 2022 [see also Khabarhub 29/11/2022]
Fake news, fairy tales and non-inclusion : Why don't the parties react to the massive criticism from civil society and the media?, by Karl-Heinz Krämer. 14 November 2022
The declared ideals of 2006 and today's political impasse, by Karl-Heinz Krämer (see also Khabarhub, October 24, 2022) Democracy or Oligarchy? Nepal's political situation in the election year 2022., by Karl-Heinz Krämer.  Nepal Observer 75, June 6, 2022
Bevölkerungszensus 2021: Überraschungen und Unzulänglichkeiten, von Karl-Heinz Krämer. Südasien 42:1,57-60 (April 2022)
Election alliances of Nepali parties: sense or nonsense in local elections?, by Karl-Heinz Krämer. Khabarhub, April 17, 2022
Resilience in Nepali politics, by Karl-Heinz Krämer. 6 December 2021 (Translation of a lecture given by the author on 5 December 2021 at the Nepal Day of the Deutsch-Nepalische Gesellschaft in Cologne)
Democracy and constitutional crisis in Nepal, by Karl-Heinz Krämer. Nepal Observer 71, August 20, 2021
Is Nepal still a democratic state?, by Karl-Heinz Krämer. Khabarhub,  June 19, 2021 Oli's coup d'état, version II, by Karl-Heinz Krämer. Nepal Observer 69, May 22, 2021
Morality and policy and the means (upaya) of Hindu politics, by Karl-Heinz Krämer. Khabarhub, May 18, 2021
Three decades of movements, uprisings, putsches and constitutions: Did they promote democracy?, by Karl-Heinz Krämer. Khabarhub, May 1, 2021
Democracy and political parties in crisis, by Karl-Heinz Krämer. Khabarhub, April 18, 2021 [See also shortened Nepali text] Vote of no confidence or new elections? The situation six weeks after the restoration of parliament, by Karl-Heinz Krämer. Nepal Oberver 65, April 8, 2021
Gravierende politische Krise, von Tsak Sherpa. Nepal Oberver 64, 2. Februar 2021 Prime Minister Oli is undermining the constitution: Rule of law and democracy at stake, by Karl-Heinz Krämer. Nepal Observer 63, January 25, 2021
Putsch at the top of the state, 60 years after Mahendra's coup d'état, by Karl-Heinz Krämer. Nepal Oberver 62, December 25, 2020 Political culture in Nepal : Parties and understanding of democracy, by Karl-Heinz Krämer. Nepal Observer 61, September 20, 2020

Editorial comment

(30 March 2023) How inclusive is the Nepali state? Let's ask the 2021 census!

Since 1990, the Nepali state has committed itself in its constitutions to multiethnicity, multilingualism and religious diversity in its society. This reality was reaffirmed in the current constitution of 2015. At the same time, another commitment was added, namely that of ending the existing unequal participation of diverse social groups in the state. In 2006, during Jana Andolan II, this had been one of the most urgent concerns of the people and had subsequently been declared a priority goal by all political parties.
Yet this concern was not entirely new in 2006. It had been raised by members of disadvantaged groups as early as 1990, but had not really been heard. The Nepal Janajati Mahasangh, now Nepal Adivasi Janajati Mahasangh, the alliance of representative organisations of ethnic groups, was still in its infancy at the beginning of the 1990s. Similar representations of the interests of the Madheshi and Dalits were more or less nowhere in sight.

Historical manipulations of the census
In order to be able to estimate the extent of the participation of the various population groups today, one must first know how high the population share of the respective groups is in the total society. Until now, a look at the published data of the census, which has been published more or less regularly every ten years since 1911, has provided information on this.
For a long time, the last well-founded census with detailed data on ethnic groups/castes, languages and religions had been the 1961 census, which was compiled immediately after Mahendra's royal coup in 1960 and was still largely free of the manipulations of the panchayat system. The party-less royal panchayat system focused on faking a cultural unitary state in the decades that followed. The impact of this policy can be seen in the published data of the 1971 and 1981 censuses. The number of ethnic groups listed constantly decreased, as did the number of mother tongues and their speakers. At the same time, the pretended number of practising Hindus rose to almost 90 per cent.
The evidence for the obviously fake data was provided by the censuses after the democratisation of 1990, according to which the proportion of Hindus fell to around 80 per cent (2001). The proportion of native Nepali speakers fell from 58.4 per cent (1981) to 44.6 per cent (2011). While 44 mother tongues were counted in 1952/3, their number dropped to 17 (1971). In the 2011 census, 123 mother tongues were then listed by name. All this was to be seen as a positive development with regard to the appropriate inclusion of all social groups.

Shortcomings of the 2021 Census
And now the census of 2021, whose data was published barely one and a half years after it was collected. However, if you look for the latest data on the aforementioned social and cultural areas, you will be surprised to find that there are absolutely no figures. This did not even happen under the royal panchayat system, although this system actually aimed at avoiding such data.
At best, a justification is provided by point 13.5 of the introductory notes of the new census, which states: "People’s aspirations and expectations have been elevated by the new Constitution. Issues of identities and capturing government’s attention are high. As a result, some interest groups tried to manipulate the respondents’ independent answers and dictated the enumerators to write a particular response. But this was independently verified and a press note was released from the CBS no fying all the concerned parties for possible legal action if they did not seize campaigning with prejudice. Moreover, a number of interest groups especially related to caste/ethnicity, religion and language have shown serious concern on census results and presented their specific demands which need to be dealt with higher government or political level."
This explanation is very significant in many respects. First of all, the very special importance of identity is emphasised. This can only be emphatically confirmed. It gives people a very individual personal position in the multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious state of Nepal. Beyond that, however, it also has very special political and administrative significance. Let's just take the right to vote, which in the proportional system refers to the very figures published in the census for percentage allocation. The figures must also be made public in order to comply with the inclusion regulations in the political and administrative sphere.
Then the above quote goes on to say that some vested interests have tried to manipulate the data collection in this regard. Nepal's constitution guarantees the fundamental right to information. If the CBS makes such allegations in such an important document as the census report, then these vested interests must be named and legal action must be taken immediately. While the CBS speaks of having threatened such legal action, it remains unclear whether it has been initiated.
In this context, there is talk of "concerned parties". Does this refer to political parties or to "groups" in general? The next sentence talks about "interest groups related to caste/ethnicity, religion and language", which obviously had concerns about such social data. Who are these groups and what are the reasons for their concerns?
The bottom line is that, while passage 13.5 of the introductory remarks to the census explains problems encountered during the survey, it does not explain why, for the first time, the census does not include any data on ethnicity, languages and religions. In view of the special political, electoral and administrative significance of such data, the Census loses quite considerably in value, however good and informative the data now published may be. Here, the public interest of the population and the state is clearly to be valued higher than possible reservations of certain groups or individuals.
So to return to the initial question: What has been achieved so far of the inclusion promised by all political parties in 2006? For this, the public would not only have to be provided with new basic social data on ethnicity, languages and religions, but the respective proportion would also have to be shown for all possible areas of public life. It would be one of the most important tasks of the census in general to provide such data.
In order to recognise that male Khas Arya, especially Bahun, hold many times the posts and functions in the state system that are appropriate to them on the basis of their population share, new census data is not necessarily needed. But it is also important to recognise changes in the field of inclusion. This is also and especially important for classifying possible positive changes with regard to traditionally excluded population groups.
So the vague hope remains that the missing data will still be supplied. There is no indication of this. Such data should actually be taken into account and integrated in the tables already published. But this is hardly likely to happen. Only then would it be possible to see whether the various social groups in the areas covered by the census are affected or involved differently. The question remains: Are there specific reasons why the social data were swept under the table? Possibly, they could prove the failure of the previous inclusion policy and, on the other hand, give impetus to demands of the excluded groups to remedy deficiencies.

(19 February 2023) Let's celebrate National Oligarchy Day!

In Nepal, they celebrate Democracy Day for three days, whatever there is to celebrate. 72 years ago, the then King Tribhuvan returned to Nepal from exile in India and promised the people democracy, which is still celebrated today. In reality, of course, it was all stink and lies, as we all know. In the years that followed, the monarchy did everything it could to regain and secure its absolutist power, which ultimately ended in the almost 30-year-long party-less Panchayat system.
The last king, Gyanendra, who was deposed in 2008, has just once again proposed a cooperation between the monarchy and political parties, for the "preservation of democracy", as he explained. The question remains why an institution that has been rightly abolished is allowed to speak at all; this only exacerbates the crisis. What is celebrated today as democracy is in reality an oligarchy of a few ageing politicians, all of whom have failed repeatedly, but who still consider themselves irreplaceable.
Twice since 1951 it looked like democracy would prevail: in 1990 after the first people's movement (Jana Andolan I) and in 2006 after Jana Andolan II and the ending of Gyanendra's coup. The new constitution of 2015 was the work of the top politicians of the major parties and brought no real democratic advantage for the people; it served primarily to secure the power of the aforementioned party elites.
In recent weeks, symbols and ideals of Nepali history that had long been hoped to be overcome have been repeatedly celebrated. On 11 January, for example, the birthday of Prithvi Narayan Shah, the founder of modern Nepal, was officially celebrated for the first time in years. This may have been a gesture towards the increasingly vocal supporters of a return to monarchy and the Hindu state. After all, the party that had taken up this unconstitutional cause had to be integrated into the allegedly Maoist-communist government for reasons of securing power. The Rastriya Prajatantra Party (RPP) was founded in 1990 as a rallying point for the top politicians of the party-less royal Panchyat system, has split and merged again and again, and is bobbing along in elections in low single-digit percentages. So much only for the significance of this party.
Prithvi Narayan deserves credit for unifying the country to a certain political greatness with his brutal campaigns of conquest. Otherwise, Nepal would probably not exist today. However, he did not do this out of great political foresight, as is repeatedly claimed, but simply for reasons of personal power and economic advantage. But this nation-wide seizure of power by the Shah dynasty of Gorkha also had very serious disadvantages for the people in the conquered areas, which are generally kept quiet: Destruction of traditional local land tenure rights, granting of ethnic land to supporters of the monarchy, suppression of ethnic and regional cultures and languages, integration of these groups at a lower level into the Hindu caste system, to name but a few. This laid the foundations for the unitary state later sought by King Mahendra and his son Birendra: one language, one religion, one culture, one ethnicity, all united by the glorious bond of attachment of the "subjects" to the Shah monarchy.
The next big celebration this year was the anniversary of the Maoist uprising on 13 February. Prime Minister PK Dahal has now declared it a National Holiday for the first time because of the glorious achievements of the uprising. The uprising, which was marked by heavy losses and serious crimes and human rights violations by both Maoists and state security forces, has brought few significant changes, some of which are increasingly being challenged: Secularism, federalism, republic. The social inclusion promised by all political parties in 2006 is more distant than ever. Thousands of victims of the uprising continue to wait in vain for justice. Only a few perpetrators from the time of the uprising have been convicted so far. It is significant that one of those perpetrators has now been pardoned as part of the usual action on the occasion of Democracy Day.
And so now, three-day celebrations of democracy, that is, the rule of the people. These people have recently expressed in elections what they want and what they do not want. For example, they have made it clear that they no longer want this old failed guard of male Khas Arya politicians, including those of the previous ruling alliance, who had tried to maintain their power through extreme anti-democratic manipulation of the electoral system, or those who in 2020/21 had accepted the destruction of Nepal's parliamentary system in order to maintain their personal power. Only the PR system allows a statement on the status of the political parties and here the losses of the three big parties were clear: Nepali Congress -7%, CPN (UML) -6.3%, CPN (MC) -2.5%. At the same time, parties that offered themselves as alternatives experienced a huge boost. Unfortunately, after the elections, some of these alternative forces turned out to be renewed kingmakers to keep the failed old politicians in power, instead of finally forcing them to make a generational change. Nepal has already experienced something similar after the 2017 elections, when the Bibeksheel Sajha Party managed positive approaches of an alternative political force before its leader Rabindra Mishra then outed himself as a monarchist, who is now a member of the RPP. Positive approaches like those of the Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP) obviously lose their impact as soon as the traditional power merry-go-round of the ruling oligarchy takes effect.
Thus, Nepal now has a prime minister whose party received just 11 per cent of the vote and which won at least some of the direct mandates only thanks to the manipulative electoral alliance of the then ruling parties. So Dahal is prime minister thanks to the direct votes of, for example, traditional NC voters, but this has forced it into opposition, which this party, in turn, does not see that way. Democracy in Nepal supposedly does not need an opposition. At the same time, the strings in the background of the current government are pulled by KP Oli, who two years ago led Nepal's political system to the brink of ruin. It took his removal by the Supreme Court to stop him and his state president who was loyal to him.
And Oli would not be Oli if he did not focus everything on his quick return to power. A year and a half ago, Dahal had played a decisive role in Oli's downfall, allegedly because he no longer considered him tenable. Now, however, the post of prime minister was more important to Dahal than his blather of yesterday. But Dahal was to pay dearly for his post. Oli insisted on about a third of the ministerial posts for his party. In addition, he wanted all important new state posts to be reserved for the UML. At some point, Dahal must have realised that he was only a puppet in Oli's power game. Since Dahal knows better than anyone else how to fly his flag with the wind and to throw away yesterday's promises, the signs within the governing coalition are now pointing to a storm.
Oli and Dahal have agreed that the post of prime minister should switch to Oli after two and a half years, however this is to be handled legally, but constitutional rules do not interest Nepal's failed top politician anyway. Of utmost importance for Oli is that he then has a state president at his side who will rubber-stamp his every potential executive decision unchecked, as Bidya Devi Bhandari has willingly done repeatedly. So Oli still needs this post of state president for his party to have the state machinery more or less under his control. Within no time, Oli would then be back where he was dishonourably dismissed in 2021. Why the latter did not have further political consequences for him remains incomprehensible anyway.
If the election of a new state president were in the interest of the country and its people, then this choice would fall on a neutral personality from the realm of civil society. But as it is, it is once again an important element in the power game of the failed political elites and parties. Nepal remains an oligarchy and not a democracy. So let's celebrate National Oligarchy Day!

(25 December 2022) The dishonesty of Nepal's top politicians

Free and fair elections are the best non-violent way for the citizens of the country to express their views to the politicians and their parties. Despite tremendous manipulation and restriction of the freedom of choice through the formation of electoral alliances, especially those of the ruling parties, the voters managed to express a few things clearly;
    - They did not want "business as usual".
    - They did not want the same old failed politicians.
    - They wanted a generational change in political responsibility.
And the signals were clear. The electoral alliance of the five governing parties was voted out because it could no longer obtain the number of MPs needed to form a government. The main opposition party CPN (UML) led by former two-time prime minister KP Oli also lost not only 36 direct mandates compared to 2017, which was probably due to the electoral alliance of the ruling parties, but also 6.3 per cent of the PR votes, which was a significant drop in terms of voters' favour. Similarly, the CPN (MC)'s support dropped again by 2.5 per cent to only 11.1 per cent of the PR vote, a trend that has continued unabated since 2008. Presumably, this party was only able to win many of its 18 direct mandates thanks to the electoral alliance, in which the other participating parties asked their voters to vote for the candidate of the Maoist party.
And what was the reaction of the ageing leaders of these three parties to the clear statement of the voters? They saw themselves as winners despite their defeats, a phenomenon that is not entirely untypical after elections worldwide. A compromise solution might have been to transfer the responsibility to a younger generation. With Gagan Thapa, a certainly suitable candidate had come forward.
But the old, failed top politicians rigorously ignored this option. Instead, the parties in the Deuba government, for example, tried to bring other parties on board in order to come up with the number of MPs needed to continue the government. At the same time, a fierce battle began between two top leaders of the ruling coalition, PK Dahal and SB Deuba, for the post of the future prime minister. Meanwhile, the opposition leader KP Oli pretended to accept defeat and to remain in opposition. In reality, however, he did not miss any opportunity to drive discord into the government coalition by repeatedly calling for a coalition of left parties, preferably under his leadership.
These power struggles over the new government formation had one thing in common. They showed that the top politicians of the three big parties were once again not concerned with the welfare of the state and society, but solely with fulfilling their own personal claims to power. In this respect, PK Dahal's statement on 25 December that he now had to change sides because SB Deuba had broken his promise when he refused to accept Dahal as the new prime minister is striking. Yet the voters had expressed that they no longer wanted either of them.
It is shocking that Dahal justifies his switch to the Oli camp by saying that he was cheated by Deuba. But how should the voters who voted for the candidates of the ruling alliance feel, even if these candidates came from parties they would never have voted for if their freedom of choice had not been so restricted by the agreements of the top politicians of the alliance? So now a politician whose party was elected by just 11 per cent of the electorate, and thanks to the direct mandates won by his alliance pledges came a distant third, allows himself to be made prime minister at the head of a completely different coalition. If anything is fraud, it is surely this, and it is fraud against the electorate!
Now Nepal gets a new prime minister who long ago testified that he was responsible for 5,000 deaths during the Maoist insurgency. For long, he has not held any top office. Nepal's top politicians, regardless of party, usually only accept the office of prime minister for themselves. Otherwise, they prefer to pull strings in the background. So now someone who has pleaded guilty to a capital crime has taken over the highest executive office.
This is only possible because KP Oli, with his 78 MPs, supports Dahal as prime minister. In view of Oli's past, the legitimate question remains how long this will be. At the same time, Oli is also an extremely questionable figure after all that he afforded himself in 2021. Both parliamentary dissolutions at the time were unconstitutional, as the Supreme Court has confirmed, but Oli still does not accept this. At least the second parliamentary dissolution was nothing but a coup, which was only made possible thanks to the active support of the state president.
It is also questionable to look at the other parties that want to participate in the new government. There is, for example, the RPP, which fundamentally rejects secularism and federalism and instead strives for a return to the Hindu state and monarchy, i.e. a clearly unconstitutional proposal. And in general, the question arises how such a party and a party that calls itself revolutionary-Maoist can sit together in a government.
Then there are three parties that were elected to parliament by many voters primarily because they had contested as alternative political forces, notably the Rastriya Swatantra Party, which got only 0.4 per cent less PR votes than Dahal's CPN (MC), but also the two regional parties, Janamat Party and Nagarik Unmukti Party. These three parties are now actually admitting to ensuring the stay in power of old failed politicians. Do these parties actually believe that they can initiate the changes they promised to their voters from within the government? Not one of the top politicians of the major parties has ever explained why he had to become prime minister. What they have all been spreading is merely empty phrases that are out of touch with reality and have been delivered monotonously for years.

(27 November 2022) Attempt of a first election analysis

The national and provincial elections have been held and have sent shock waves. Despite massive manipulation in the nomination of candidates, continued blatant disregard for social inclusion, utopian and fairytale-like election manifestos and the subversion of democratic principles, the eternally same and long since repeatedly failed ageing party leaders have not succeeded in deceiving the electorate once again. The top politicians were only concerned with one thing: they wanted to have their personal position of power confirmed once again by the elections so that they could continue their state-destroying power struggles for five years afterwards. All according to the motto: Keep it up, it has always worked so far.

But it didn't this time. The voters were, to put it bluntly, fed up and taught the top politicians and their parties a lesson. The fact that this did not turn out even more clearly is due to various circumstances. For one thing, the insane electoral alliances led to the competition between the parties in the constituencies, which is typical of a democratic system, being considerably restricted. Voters could no longer decide freely. They had to be satisfied with the candidates that the party leaders had chosen for them, basta! Or else they had to resort to a protest vote.
In some constituencies, a not inconsiderable number of independent candidates have favoured the re-election of prominent top politicians. The nationwide cadre system of the major parties also had a supportive effect on incumbent politicians. Another plus for them is the so-called Constituency Development Fund, through which only directly elected MPs can specifically promote development projects in their constituencies and thus already work towards re-election during the ongoing legislative period.
Finally, it is also worth mentioning the effort to weaken or exclude potential competitors through accusations or even lawsuits already in the run-up to the elections. Sometimes, the Election Commission seems to have supported such processes while turning a blind eye to the misconduct of many established politicians.
Unfortunately, even a week after the elections, not even the FPTP votes have been fully counted. Regarding the PR system, only constantly updated figures are published on the Election Commission's website, although it is precisely here that percentage figures could already reveal a trend. If you want to get this one, you have to calculate the expected PR seats yourself.

It is therefore too early to draw up a comprehensive analysis, but some things can already be clearly seen. First, there is the winner of the 2017 elections, the CPN (UML), whose chairperson had announced in his grandiloquent manner that his party would emerge from the elections with an absolute majority of seats. In 2017, the party had won 121 of the 275 seats in an electoral alliance with the CPN (MC). This time, it will be about 40 MPs less, mainly due to losses in the FPTP system. But even in the proportional system, the party is expected to drop by about six percent to just over 27 percent. In this system, however, the CPN (UML) remains ahead with about the same lead over the Nepali Congress (NC) as five years ago.
So, under the PR system, the NC also loses about six per cent compared to 2017. Hence, it is only in the PR system that one can make out the status of the parties among the electorate. The FPTP system this time was all about manipulation by the electoral alliances. Thus, the declared aim of the alliance of the five ruling parties [NC, CPN (MC), CPN (US), LSP and Janamorcha Nepal] was to ensure a continuation of the ruling coalition after the elections by means of their electoral alliance. For this purpose, the re-election of as many leading politicians of the coalition as possible was to be made possible.
This plan has obviously failed. Thanks to candidate manipulation, at least the NC was able to gain almost as many seats in the FPTP system as the CPN (UML) lost compared to 2017. Together with the seats from the proportional system, the party is likely to have around 90 MPs in the new House of Representatives. For a governing majority of at least 138 MPs, the other four governing parties would thus have to bring in around 50 more MPs, but it does not look like that will happen.
Pushpa Kamal Dahal's CPN (MC), still an alliance partner of the CPN (UML) in 2017, is the second big loser of these elections. The number of its FPTP seats will be halved compared to 2017, with an expected 18. Just as a reminder: as early as 2008, voters had placed great hope in this party and gave it exactly 50 per cent of the 240 direct mandates at the time. Since then, the party has been declining from election to election, which is certainly also due to the fact that it has forgotten almost all of its former ideals. In the PR system, too, it will drop by another two percent, with only about eleven percent. In total, this will probably mean 33 seats in total.
Madhav Kumar Nepal's CPN (US), which emerged from the CPN (UML), is contesting elections for the first time. The election results make it clear that this party has not yet reached the electorate. Although it is the third strongest party in the ruling coalition with 10 direct mandates, it fails to clear the three-percent hurdle in the PR system. The Loktantrik Samajbadi Party (LSP), which recently replaced the Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP) in the ruling coalition, has only four direct seats, while Rastriya Janamorcha has only one direct seat, as in 2017. These two parties did not win PR seats either. From this point of view, a continuation of the current governing coalition seems at least difficult, if not impossible.

Four parties can be described as election winners due to their significant gains. First and foremost is the Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP), founded by Rabi Lamichhane in June 2022. It has won eight direct mandates and, thanks to a good eleven per cent of the PR votes, is expected to win another 15 seats through the PR system. As the party's name suggests, it wants to establish itself independently of the political quagmire of the major parties, and this seems to have resonated with the electorate, despite all the defamation campaigns against this young party. KP Oli nevertheless describes the emergence of this party as a trivial matter. The question arises whether this expresses arrogance or sheer shock.
The winner from among the established parties is the RPP, which many had already seen as a outdated model in 2017 in view of only one direct mandate and its failure to clear the three-percent hurdle in the PR system. In 2022, the party won seven direct mandates and, thanks to six per cent of the PR votes, has a total of 15 MPs. The party stands for a return to Hindu state and monarchy, a clearly unconstitutional aspiration. The improved popularity in the PR system is probably largely due to a protest against the manipulations of the major parties. However, the mere six percent or so of the PR vote also makes it clear that the RPP's aspirations do not enjoy broad popular support, contrary to what is claimed at rallies of this party.
The two smaller winners of these elections are based in the Tarai. One is CK Raut's Janamat Party (Referendum Party). Raut has long advocated an independent Madheshi state in the Nepali Tarai, which of course also contradicts the constitution. Although Raut's movement did not always establish itself with greater militancy, the state often dealt with him quite harshly. In 2019, the then Prime Minister KP Oli concluded an agreement with Raut, which, according to Oli, meant that Raut would distance himself from his separatist aspirations. This was countered by Raut's immediate formation of his Janamat Party, which, as its name suggests, wants to achieve the creation of a Tarai state not through militancy but through a referendum. CK Raut has now won the direct mandate in his constituency with a large majority. More than 2.5 per cent of the PR votes are also remarkable. The party is also winning a number of seats in the provincial elections, which will not be discussed further here.
The second smaller party from the Tarai that successfully attracted attention in the elections is the Nagarik Unmukti Party (NUP). In the PR system, like the Janamat Party, it achieved a good 2.5 per cent of the votes and also three direct mandates. It was equally successful in the provincial elections. The party was not officially registered until January 2022. Its initiator is Resham Chaudhary, who is currently serving a life sentence. He is considered a prime suspect in the Tikapur riots, in which eight policemen and a child were murdered in 2015. Chaudhary was elected to the House of Representatives in 2017, although he was officially in hiding. His appeal against his conviction and its rejection by the Dipayal High Court has been pending before the SC for some time. He had wanted to run himself in 2022, which was rejected.

The rise of the two aforementioned Tarai parties can be seen in the direct context of the decline of the two successful Tarai parties of the 2017 elections. The Rastriya Janata Party (RJP) and the Sanghiya Samabadi Forum (SSF) managed to win 5.45 per cent of the PR votes each and a total of 33 assembly seats at that time. In the intervening period, the two parties even merged to form the Rastriya Janajata Party Nepal (RJPN), which meant a strong presence of the Tarai people in parliament. At times, Baburam Bhattarai, who had won a direct mandate through his Naya Shakti Party, also became involved in this party.
The infighting among the top leaders of the major parties in recent years also left its mark on the Tarai politicians. First, the RJPN broke into the Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP) and the Loktantrik Samajbadi Party (LSP). Initially, the JSP became a member of the ruling coalition. When this party felt disadvantaged in the electoral alliance, it switched to an alliance with KP Oli's CPN (UML). Within the government coalition, the LSP then took its place. In the end, it became apparent that the top politicians of the Tarai parties were also primarily concerned with their own power and chances of personal re-election and not with the concerns of the people they claimed to represent. They have now been taught a lesson by the electorate in the parliamentary elections. The share of the PR vote fell by more than 1.5 per cent for the JSP and by a good 3.5 per cent for the LSP. The JSP lost six seats, the LSP 13, the latter even failing to clear the three-percent hurdle. In the Tarai, too, people seem to be voting more consciously.
It remains to mention that the Nepal Majdur Kisan Party was able to defend its direct mandate in Bhaktapur. Five independent candidates were also elected. This, too, may be seen as a sign of voter dissatisfaction with the major parties and their misguided and, in some respects, anti-democratic policies.

What do the elections mean for political stability? What might a future government look like? The new House of Representatives will include twelve parties and five independents. In 2017, only five parties had more than one MP; this time there are nine. The then governing coalition of CPN (UML) and CPN (MC) did not bring any political stability to the country, despite a near two-thirds majority in parliament, but rather exacerbated the chaos and infighting. Rational coalition governments with a clear majority of MPs are not in sight at all this time.
Only a coalition of NC and CPN (UML) could have a majority of about 60 percent of the MPs. But such a coalition makes no sense whatsoever if it is led by the failed prime ministers of the previous legislature, who might then also want to take turns in office. If the voters have expressed anything definitively, it is that they want a new beginning with fresh faces in positions of responsibility. The RSP was also so successful because it relied on a much younger generation of politicians. At best, it can be criticised for not having considered the aspect of social inclusion much better than the established parties (for example, only 12 women among 131 direct candidates). But this party is still very young and this should not be overrated here.
Calls for a generational change have also been on the agenda of the numerical winner of these elections, the NC, for some time. Immediately after his re-election, Gagan Thapa, a younger politician, laid claim to the office of the future prime minister. Within the party, several politicians from the old guard will challenge his claim. Apart from the incumbent Prime Minister and party president Sher Bahadur Deuba, these are at least Ram Chandra Poudel, Shekhar Koirala, Shashank Koirala and Prakash Man Singh. With a turn towards the younger generation, there may finally be options for a more hopeful political future of the country.

(21 October 2022) The declared ideals of 2006 and today's political impasse

The scorn of Nepali politicians knows no bounds. The top leaders of the ruling coalition, for example, repeat in monotone that their electoral alliance is necessary to preserve the constitution, stability and prosperity. Yet, the ruling coalition has failed miserably on all these three aspects in a similar manner as the Oli government before it.

In reality, the leaders of all the major parties are only concerned with securing their re-election. If only one candidate from the camp of an electoral alliance stands in a constituency, his chances of re-election increase enormously. Only independent candidates can counteract this speculation, if voters realise in sufficient numbers that the same failed top candidates cannot be re-elected under any circumstances in the interest of the country, the people, democracy and the constitution. Another complicating factor is that this alliance system extremely reduces the number of potential alternative candidates of a party. Only the same old and long-since failed people are up for election.

None of the so-called top politicians respects the constitution and laws. Indeed, they obviously do not even know them. Should they intentionally violate them, they would have to be brought to justice immediately. Their behaviour would be highly malicious and therefore not covered by any passage in the constitution and subordinate laws.

The failed "top politicians" are a collection of male, predominantly high-caste politicians who want nothing to have to do with their own slogans of 2006, namely advocacy of social inclusion, democracy, federalism and secularism. For all of them, only their own very personal interests in power and all the privileges that go with it count.

16 years have passed since 2006. There can be no talk of social inclusion at all. It may have been in evidence at the time of the first Constituent Assembly election in 2008, but it was systematically dismantled thereafter. Even the inclusion provisions of the interim constitution were fundamentally disregarded. With the adoption of the new constitution in 2015, this was taken further in a decisive way. For example, the provision of the interim constitution to respect inclusion in the selection of direct candidates, which was never respected anyway, was removed altogether. Their proportion, mostly hand-selected males from predominantly so-called high Hindu castes, was increased at the same time. Only 110 of the 275 MPs are now elected by the people through the proportional representation system (PR). The latter is increasingly misused by top politicians in a nepotistic manner to infiltrate relatives, associates and friends into parliament. Since hardly any women are nominated as FPTP candidates, the prescribed 33 percent share of women in parliament must be ensured via the PR system. For example, putting the prime minister's wife on the PR list guarantees her safe election to parliament. In view of the fact that most of the FPTP candidates are men from the Tagadhari castes or Khas Arya (societal share of these men = 15 per cent), it seems downright grotesque that another 30 per cent Khas Arya are elected to parliament via the PR system. In this way, an adequate inclusion of "all" social groups, as pompously promised by the top politicians in 2006, will never be achieved. They don't even want this, and in 2006 they only talked about it like so many other things that they still pompously promise today but never really mean.

Democracy means the rule of the people. The alliance politicians declare in all seriousness that they are standing up for this when they form an alliance. In reality, however, this is a paternalism of the voters. They are obviously to be declared too stupid to recognise which politicians are best suited to represent their interests and the needs of the state. Therefore, the alliance politicians take this agony of choice away from them. Voters are only supposed to cast their votes for the common candidate that the top politicians have previously negotiated in weeks of discussion, regardless of which party that candidate belongs to. That is not democracy, that is oligarchy and the dumbing down of voters.

The idea of federalism was brought up in the 1990s by stakeholders of the Janajati groups and the then insurgent CPN (Maoist). Considering the fact that Nepal had hitherto been an extremely centralised state and that numerous regions and social groups were not really participated, this proposal seemed rational and later found its way into the basis for discussion in the Constituent Assembly. When the top politicians realised that the proposals put forward on the federal state threatened their privileges and state control, they increasingly took over the constitutional discussion themselves. Their disagreement on the issue of federalism ultimately led to the failure of the first Constituent Assembly. It was only with the change of majority in the second Constituent Assembly that the NC and CPN (UML) were able to push through their ideas of the federal state, which were more oriented towards the system of the Development Regions of the Panchayat period and denied any historical and ethnic reference even in the naming. Then, when the constitution was adopted, the inclusively elected representatives in the assembly were not allowed to introduce the concerns and ideas of the social groups they represented anyway.

Article 3 of the 2015 Constitution defines Nepal as a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-lingual and multi-cultural state. Such a state cannot possibly be linked to the religion, language and culture of a single one of these social groups. In this respect, it was obvious to declare Nepal a secular state. A look at the history of modern Nepal from the days of Prithvinaran Shah to the last days of the monarchy makes it clear that the close linkage with Hindu political ideas and ideals has been one of the main causes of social inequalities, discrimination and participatory exclusion. Despite the now official commitment to secularism in the constitution (Article 4), there are repeated calls for a revival of the Hindu state. These come not only from those circles that are party-ideologically committed to this albeit unconstitutional idea, such as the RPP groups, but there are also a number of politicians within the major parties who occasionally flirt with this idea and closely link their notion of Nepali nationalism to Hindu ideals. The best example of the latter has been provided by former Prime Minister Oli on different occasions. This may also be related to the fact that most top politicians belong to a cultural environment that is closely linked to Hindu values and ways of thinking and lack necessary understanding of the multi-ethnic society. If adequate social inclusion had taken place since 2006, democracy, federalism and secularism would certainly not be questioned today.

(24 October 2021) Worsening of the national crisis

The crisis of the Nepali state is progressing. After the coup-like dissolution of parliament twice and his removal by the Supreme Court, KP Oli with his CPN-UML continues to "successfully" prevent parliament from working. His successor as prime minister, Sher Bahadur Deuba (Nepali Congress, NC), is still not getting anything done after more than 100 days in office. A partly anti-democratic approach and cracks are also emerging in this government, the latter not least because of the possible signing of the MCC agreement with the USA, strongly advocated by Deuba.

With his appointment of a brother-in-law of the Chief Justice (CJ) as minister, Deuba has also brought the Supreme Court under criticism. Assurances by the CJ that he strongly advised Deuba not to do so look implausible. The Bar Association is on the barricades, as are the CJ's colleagues in the Supreme Court. The judiciary has been permanently damaged.

The NC party convention, which legally should have taken place by March 2021 at the latest, keeps being postponed. The upcoming party convention of the CPN-UML also seems to be experiencing problems. All four major parties are showing that they are not willing to learn. According to schedule, new elections are due in autumn 2022 at all three levels of the federal system. Moving them up significantly has long been called for by the CPN-UML and is now also being discussed by the ruling parties.

But no matter when they are actually held, nothing is likely to change in the messy situation. The old and long-since failed leaders of all parties do not want to give up a millimetre of their power and control. In the NC, only veteran politicians, some of them 75-76 years old, are fighting for the leadership of the party for the next five years and, of course, for their candidacy for prime minister next year. Oli claims to have set in motion a huge rejuvenation process in the CPN-UML, but has enforced that the maximum age for election as party president and for candidacy for prime minister is 70. He himself will be 70 in February, so he is on the safe side. Meanwhile, the question of whether Oli has any legitimacy for state and party office after his attacks on parliamentary democracy, the constitution and the rule of law remains undiscussed.

Pushpa Kamal Dahal's CPN-MC has forgotten all its once revolutionary claims. It has become a mainstream party whose leaders have long been concerned primarily with their own profit and power influence. The ideals they stood for in the ten-year militant uprising no longer count. Not only the Maoist fighters who put their lives and health at risk for these ideals feel betrayed, but also all those who had hope for the promised social and political changes and who in 2008 voted the Maoist party as by far the strongest political force in the first elections to a Constituent Assembly. Nothing is left and nothing will come.

What remains of the major parties is the recently formed CPN-US (Unified Socialist) led by Madhav Kumar Nepal, which recently split from the CPN-UML. This party is still too young to really classify it. At best, one can see that even in this new party, the traditional patriarchal orientations have been preserved in the nominations to the various party bodies. At most, it will be interesting to see how many votes the two moderate communist parties, CPN-UML and CPN-US, will lose in the next elections. In 1998, the CPN-UML had already split over personal power claims. In the 1999 parliamentary elections, the two groups together received the most votes for the first time, but in the fight for seats in the then single-majority system they took the decisive votes from each other and helped the NC to an absolute majority of seats despite losing votes.

The question remains: What will the next elections bring for the country and for the people? All indications are that the voters will once again have no real choice. They will probably only be allowed to decide which of the numerous failed high-caste male top politicians they will vote for. Hopeful younger politicians of both sexes and with a view to balanced social inclusion will probably continue to be few and far between. The old heads in all parties will ensure that. It already seems certain that no party will win an absolute majority of seats. And Nepal has not been able to cope with such a situation so far.

(10 October 2021) Will everything be better with PM Deuba?

Exactly 90 days ago today, Sher Bahadur Deuba was sworn in as Prime Minister for the fifth time. The background is well known. KP Oli had tried to cover up his incompetence in an authoritarian manner. Several breaches of the constitution, repeated contempt of court and subversion of basic democratic norms ultimately left the Supreme Court with no choice but to remove Oli. Previously, Oli saw no reason to resign, neither in a clear vote of no confidence by the House of Representatives, nor in the explicit provisions of the Constitution, nor in the crumbling support within his own party.

In a democratic state, these would be ample reasons to deny KP Oli the right to hold political office for all time to come. But Oli does not care about any of this. Internally, he has preferred to divide and possibly weaken in the long run his CPN-UML, which had developed into a formidable left force over the past decades - definitely not to Oli's credit. At the national level, even after his ouster, he has continued his efforts to destroy parliamentary democracy. Most notable here is the continuous blockade of both houses of parliament, sometimes enforced with considerable militancy. With hollow slogans, Oli and his closest confidants are trying to give the impression that an overwhelming electoral victory for the CPN-UML in the next elections is beyond all doubt. Actually, a clear age limit was supposed to initiate a rejuvenation process in the party. But in a recent amendment to the constitution, Oli ensured that the age limit with regard to running for political office was only set at 70. In February 2022, Oli will turn 70; before that, of course, he wants to be confirmed as party leader for another five years at the party convention in November and then also be his party's top candidate in the upcoming parliamentary elections in 2022.

For about a year, Oli as prime minister had blocked the legislative work of the people's elected representatives because he could be less and less sure of majority parliamentary support for his increasingly abstruse policies. With the help of the president, who was compliant with him in every respect, laws were no longer passed by parliament, but were signed by Oli and then by the president in the form of ordinances.
Oli's latest coup was the second dissolution of the House of Representatives despite an explicit interdict by the Supreme Court. In doing so, the PM and President knowingly and single-mindedly disregarded the fact that a majority of the members of the House of Representatives had expressed in writing their support for replacing Prime Minister Oli with Sher Bahadur Deuba. Only another Supreme Court ruling could put an end to their unconstitutional action.

So, Deuba has been Prime Minister for three months now. On 18 July, he was confirmed in office by a narrow two-thirds majority of MPs in a vote of confidence. What has changed since then? In short, remarkably little. It was clear that Deuba's power would depend on support from several opposition parties or party factions.

In his vote of confidence, he had even received some votes from the Oli faction of the CPN-UML. At that time, the Supreme Court had explicitly ruled out negative consequences for voting in a way that deviated from the party line. But after that, the Political Party Act of 2017, in which top politicians had given priority to a party line constraint over a free vote of conscience by MPs on votes, was again in effect. In the worst case, the party leadership can revoke the status of MPs who disobey the party leadership's voting instructions. All that is needed is a simple notification to the secretariat of the House of Representatives. In order for a party's faction to split from the parent party without the MPs losing their parliamentary status, it had to get at least 40 per cent of the MPs behind it.

This arrangement was critical for Madhav Kumar Nepal's UML faction MPs. They could not support Deuba, nor could they possibly agree to an amendment to the Political Party Act in parliament. However, without such an amendment, they could not separate.

In this situation, Deuba resorted to the method previously practised by Oli and rightly criticised harshly. Deuba abruptly ended the session of the House of Representatives, changed the number of MPs required for a party split to 20 per cent by ordinance signed by the president, and reconvened the parliamentary chamber. Shortly after, the faction of MK Nepal split as CPN-US (Unified Socialist). As the opportunity was favourable, the faction around Mahanta Thakur also split from the Janata Samajbadi Party-Nepal (JSP-N), which also supported Deuba, under the name Loktantrik Samajbadi Party (LSP). Soon after, the Deuba government withdrew the ordinance amending the Political Party Act, so the law is again in force in the form it was before the party splits. Deuba had, after all, achieved what he wanted. With the parties supporting him, he could now hope for the necessary majority of MPs in votes. But this had nothing to do with democracy and constitutional procedure.

Even after this "clarification" of the majority situation, however, it was to take weeks before Deuba could complete his rudimentary cabinet - four ministers had been sworn in together with him, and later Narayan Khadka was also added so that he could represent Nepal at the United Nations General Assembly. The reasons now lay in the dispute between the coalition partners over the respective number of ministerial posts and the division of the portfolio.

It was only 88 days after he was sworn in that Deuba was able to complete this process. His cabinet now comprises 25 people, 22 ministers and three ministers of state. His NC has nine ministers and one state minister, while the CPN-MC, as the second strongest coalition party, has five ministers. The CPN-US and the JSP-N each have four ministers and one minister of state; after protests, the NC had given another ministerial post to the CPN-US.

The fact that there are five women in the cabinet this time can be seen as a positive development to a limited extent. This corresponds to a share of 20 percent. This is the highest figure, at least since the Council of Ministers was limited to a maximum of 25 persons by the new constitution. However, Nepal has set itself a target of at least 33 per cent women at all levels of the state, so this is still a long way off.

The high proportion of members of the Newar caste of the Shrestha is striking. They make up about one percent of the population. As Newars, they actually belong to the Janajati groups, but in the Hindu hierarchical thinking of the state elite on the basis of the Muluki Ain of 1854, they are classified as Tagadhari (bearers of the sacred string), to which above all the Bahun, Thakuri and Chhetri belong. Including the Shrestha, the Council of Ministers once again includes 16 Tagadhari (64 per cent, share in the total population around 30 per cent). In this respect, therefore, little has changed compared to previous governments. The Janajati are only reasonably represented according to their share of the population if the Shrestha are also assigned to them. The Madhesi are only involved through the JSP-N and are also slightly under-represented. Surprisingly, once again there is a Dalit as a minister (through the CPN-MC) Since about 12 per cent of the population is Dalit according to the 2011 Census, this continues to be an extremely blatant exclusion.

Of course, it is difficult to put social participation in the Council of Ministers in relation to social shares. In view of the traditional imbalance, however, one can still speak of a continuation of the previous personnel policy. At most, it is still noticeable that the share of Bahuns in the Council of Ministers has declined significantly compared to the Oli government, although they continue to be overrepresented. Perhaps this is also related to the fact that the prime minister himself is a Chhetri this time. Given their population share, to have not more than two Bahuns in the Council of Ministers would be appropriate.

The completion of the cabinet was overshadowed by another affair. Even before the final nomination and swearing-in of ministers, there were strong rumours that Chief Justice Cholendra Shamsher JB Rana was trying to gain influence over the composition of the executive. There were already strong protests from the media, civil society and lawyers about this mixing of the judiciary and the executive.

Unfortunately, the ministerial list reinforced these initial fears. Gajendra Bahadur Hamal, a brother-in-law of the Chief Justice, was appointed Minister of Industry, Commerce and Supplies. He was not even a member of parliament and came from the district level of the Nepali Congress, so if in doubt, he would have had to become a member of parliament within six months if he wanted to retain his post. Another shadow fell on him because he had clearly advocated a return to the Hindu state in the past. But he is not alone in this in the NC; even general secretary Shashanka Koirala has repeatedly expressed this view. In view of the escalating turmoil, Hamal resigned from office on the second day after his swearing-in.

There is fierce criticism over the composition of the Council of Ministers both within the NC and the JSP-N. Deuba, in any case, has already amply demonstrated that he has not changed compared to previous terms. Clearly, he is well on his way to his fifth failure as prime minister.

(5 July 2021) Constitutional crisis : Can it be solved?

Corona infection numbers may temporarily decline. However, in view of the unchanged low tests, the lack of vaccines and the global developments, it is to be feared that a third wave will soon hit. The vaccination optimism spread by Prime Minister Oli seems misplaced.

Meanwhile, the political situation is escalating. The Supreme Court has already rejected unconstitutional measures of the Oli government in various cases. Perhaps outstanding is the decision that the personnel change in the Council of Ministers was clearly defined as unconstitutional, thus reducing the Council of Ministers to five members. Oli could have easily read this in Article 77 (3) of the Constitution before making his decision. Presumably, however, he does not see himself as an interim prime minister at all.

Yet Oli should not even be an interim prime minister after the elected MPs of the people in the House of Representatives withdrew their confidence in him. Due to the disunity of his political opponents, no alternative prime minister could initially stand for election. Therefore, President Bidya Devi Bhandari appointed Oli to continue in office as interim Prime Minister. As such, according to Article 76, he would have had to seek another vote of confidence in the House of Representatives within 30 days. Had he lost this one too, his time as prime minister would have been history.

However, the situation changed within a few days with the nomination of a new candidate for prime minister through a list signed by 146 of 265 possible MPs. Realising that he no longer had a chance to maintain his power through legal means, Oli staged a coup with the active support of President Bhandari. Oli declared that he had even more MPs behind him than Sher Bahadur Deuba, the candidate of the opposition forces, of course without a list of signatures, because this was not possible at all in terms of numbers.

Bidya Devi Bhandari declared the situation as unclear, although she only had to ask the House of Representatives for a vote. In order to avoid any more opposition from the House, she, in consultation with KP Oli, dissolved the parliamentary chamber again, set new elections for November 2021 and reappointed Oli, who already had lost the confidence of the people's representatives, as interim prime minister until these elections.
In explaining this action, Oli cited contradictory or unclear provisions of the Constitution and the Political Parties Act. Oli claimed that in a democracy, elected representatives are not allowed to vote according to their conscience, but must respect party discipline. In other words, according to Oli, democracy is not a rule of the people, but a rule of the parties. This is complicated by the fact that all of Nepal's political parties lack democratic structures and processes. They are all controlled by a very small group of mostly male Bahuns (recruited from six percent of the total population). These small party elites determine party policy and the voting behaviour of their MPs.

Even more serious is the fact that the respective party leaders are given an almost absolute power. All major parties are characterised by factionalism. As a rule, the party chairman is the top politician who has the most members behind him at the two highest party levels. The party chairman is then largely free to decide on personnel appointments as well as on the party's political stances. Resistance comes at most from the other factions within the party if he does not take them sufficiently into account in personnel policy.

In this sense, KP Oli sees himself as an almost absolutist ruler over his CPN-UML. His "world view" came into crisis when last year many MPs of his then still united party NCP opposed him and eventually even wanted to replace him as chairman and prime minister with another person from his party. This situation was aggravated when the Supreme Court annulled the merger of CPN-UML and CPN-MC. This meant that the CPN-UML was still the strongest party in parliament, but had lost its absolute majority. This majority was further reduced when the intra-party factions of MK Nepal and JN Khanal continued to oppose Oli and flirted with supporting a joint opposition prime ministerial candidate. Some of them then also signed the list submitted to the president.

Since then, Oli has been clamouring that it is undemocratic for MPs of his party to disregard his directives as chairman and support the opposition candidate. This aspect will also play a role when the Supreme Court has to decide in the next few days on the renewed dissolution of parliament and the machinations of Oli and Bhandari.

It is to be hoped that the Supreme Court will decide in favour of preserving democracy, the constitution and the rule of law. It will not be able to avoid better defining the understanding of democracy. It is also not acceptable for the Supreme Court to make the opposition candidate prime minister as is demanded by some lawyers on the plaintiff's side. This is not a task of the court, but of parliament.
The Prime Minister must be elected solely by the elected representatives of the people by secret ballot and without party coercion. This alone is democracy! The Supreme Court should therefore order an immediate restoration of the House of Representatives..

This is a personal analysis of the legal situation. The bottom line, however, is that the question remains whether Nepal will find its way back to political rationality without new elections. Without a radical democratisation of the parties and the status of MPs, a weeding out of the failed old political guard and a much better social inclusion based on federalism and secularism, however, new elections will not change much.

(24 May 2021) Proposals for an immediate rescue attempt of the people, the constitution and democracy

Step 1: The Supreme Court has already made it clear to KP Oli and President Bidya Devi Bhandari that a prime minister has no right to dissolve the House of Representatives for the sole purpose of retaining power, but must adhere precisely to the provisions of Article 76 of the Constitution. It should therefore be easy for the SC to immediately confirm this to the two of them once again. The utter disregard for the pandemic suffering of the people on the part of the Oli government alone calls for utmost urgency. To seek elections in this situation borders on attempted manslaughter. Oli, but certainly also the leaders of the other parties, have already contributed greatly to the renewed escalation of the pandemic with their calls for mass meetings on the streets at the beginning of the year.

Step 2: After the SC has restored the House of Representatives as soon as possible, the opposition must immediately, and without further discussion and infighting in parliament, move a motion of no confidence against Oli and elect a new prime minister. Without the opposition taking action itself, Oli will not budge. He has proved that sufficiently. Sher Bahadur Deuba has exposed numerous flaws and mistakes in the past over the course of four terms in office, but he is the leader of the second strongest party in the House of Representatives and Oli must be removed from power immediately to prevent him from doing worse.

Step 3: As small a national government as possible should be formed under the leadership of Deuba, in which the portfolios should be filled according to competence and not according to party affiliation. The priority tasks of this national government should be thoughtful measures to contain and combat the pandemic. In addition, an annual budget must be prepared and passed by parliament without delay. Finally, all ordinances enforced by Oli in bypassing Parliament and signed by the President, must be immediately repealed and, where necessary, replaced by legislation passed by Parliament. Several ordinances enforced by Oli may have long since become invalid under Article 114 anyway, as Oli unconstitutionally prevented their discussion and decision by the House of Representatives during its first session after the reconstitution.

Step 4: If the majority situation in both Houses of Parliament appears sufficient, consideration should also be given to initiating impeachment proceedings against President Bidya Devi Bhandari for her repeated and increasing disregard for her outstanding obligation to respect and uphold the Constitution. Instead, she has blindly supported the man to whom she owes her presidency in the first place in his often unconstitutional and unlawful efforts to maintain personal power.

Step 5: KP Oli has disregarded many requirements of the constitution. These included, for example, the implementation of the federal state and the appointment of many constitutional bodies. In the few commissions that were actually created, he disregarded the Constitution's requirement for an inclusive composition and instead selected in a nepotistic manner. The federal state was actually created to decentralise and contribute to better social and regional inclusion. However, Oli's policy since he took office has meant more of a backward-looking centralisation. He virtually increased his efforts to keep all power under the control of the central government. Above all, there is still a lack of clear fiscal regulations and demarcations, which are an essential prerequisite for greater autonomy of the provinces and the local level in connection with the fulfilment of their intended tasks.
With these steps, the national government and the reinstated House of Representatives should be fully busy until the next elections due in autumn 2022. Moreover, many laws are hanging in parliament because Oli has simply not allowed them to be discussed and passed. In parallel, however, the political parties should also make a serious effort by then to finally introduce democratic structures and equal opportunities in their own ranks. How would it be, for example, if at least the already existing, albeit still insufficient, laws in this regard were finally applied? It would also be necessary to make inclusion according to gender and ethnicity mandatory when nominating candidates for the next elections. This should come from the party base and not from the national party leadership. Only then would the people of Nepal finally have a real choice in the election.

(8 March 2021) Has the Supreme Court thought through its latest decision to the end? The SC's decision to judge the May 2018 form of merger of CPN-UML and CPN-MC into the NCP as illegitimate resolves some of the conflicts that have been simmering for weeks between the two factions of this ruling NCP, but at the same time it creates new problems and contradictions. The SC has to face the accusation that it has allowed the decision on the case filed by Rishi Ram Kattel's NCP, which was already officially registered and licensed under that name in 2018, to stew for more than two and a half years. At the same time, the Election Commission must be aware that it should never have registered the ruling NCP under that name at that time, according to the existing law.

Already on 14 June 2018, there had been a first complaint against the new registration of the ruling party under the name NCP at the SC. However, that case was about the failure to meet the statutory requirement of at least 33 per cent women. Moreover, despite an appeal by the Kattel group, the EC had reaffirmed its decision on the party name on 26 October 2018. Following Kattel's complaint, the SC called on the EC and the ruling party for comments on 11 December 2018. It seems that the ruling party always had the bonus on its side, although the legal position was clearly in favour of Kattel's party.

With its present judgement, the SC has finally done justice, but there are doubts whether the judges were aware of the consequences of their late judgement. The judgement implies that the ruling party is once again considered non-merged, that its original components CPN-UML and CPN-MC have been revived. This, however, has consequences that once again manoeuvre Nepal into an extremely precarious situation.

One problem, for example, is that there is a party led by Gopal Kiranti which has since been registered and admitted to the EC under the name CPN-MC. A lawsuit by this party has already been announced. This is also likely to be a problem from a jurisdictional point of view. Does Kiranti's party now have to give itself a new name, although its current party name was unoccupied when it registered? Or must the original CPN-MC now adopt a new name, thereby losing any historical identification?

There are also problems within the UML, as over the last year the internal split of the ruling NCP into an Oli faction and a Dahal and Nepal-led faction have caused the boundaries between the original UML and the CPN-MC to shift. There are no longer camps within the ruling party that could be so easily transformed back into a CPN-UML and a CPN-MC according to their early 2018 compositions.

PM Oli once again sees himself as the big winner in the whole mess and is already mocking and ridiculing the defecting politicians of his original UML because he believes that they now automatically belong to the CPN-UML again, but that they no longer have a chance to split the party there because they need 40 percent of the party's MPs to do so. However, he fails to realise that his long overdue democratic removal as prime minister by parliament does not require a prior split of the UML. Members of his party may also vote against him in a vote of confidence or a vote of no confidence. This is perfectly normal in a democratic state.

However, the SC's decision has solved one problem abruptly: the Election Commission no longer has to worry about the legality, names and symbols of the two factions of the ruling party. On the other hand, as already indicated, the EC will have to face new problems. The Election Commission itself has contributed decisively to this with its wrong decision in 2018.

Meanwhile, the old, thoroughly failed top politicians of the parties represented in parliament are once again lacking any political culture and knowledge of democratic rules of the game. On the one hand, Prime Minister Oli, who is still in office, is trying by all means and flimsy moves to prevent the ordinances he has pushed through Parliament, with the active help of the President, from being discussed and then inevitably withdrawn in Parliament. The leaders of the opposition - and that means all parliamentarians except for the small remaining bunch of Oli - must once again be reproached for their continued inability, or rather unwillingness, to put aside their personal interests and ambitions for power and finally put a deserved end to the Oli-archy. What is the use of the completely justified re-establishment of parliament if it is not used for this purpose at its very first session? Nepal quo vadis with these politicians?

(2 March 2021) State and democracy still in danger despite SB decision!  On 23 February 2021, the Supreme Court finally delivered its long-awaited verdict on the constitutionality of Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli's dissolution of the House of Representatives on 20 December 2020 in cooperation with President Bidya Devi Bhandari. The Supreme Court's upholding of the unconstitutionality was a victory for democracy and confirmed for all time to come that Nepal's prime ministers have no right to dissolve parliament purely to satisfy their personal power needs. This breathed life back into the 2015 Constitution, which was thought to be dead after all. Oli's action can be considered a coup d'état.

A constitutionally and democratically oriented prime minister would have drawn the only possible moral conclusion from this verdict and would have resigned. Oli obviously does not belong to this category of politicians. He clings to his office and declares that he will never resign. After all, he is the best and most successful government Nepal has ever had; only he knows where he sees evidence for this. As he did before the court verdict, he ridicules the breakaway faction of his inner-party rivals Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Madhav Kumar Nepal with the greatest possible scorn because they would never manage to win the majority of votes in parliament necessary for his ouster. At the same time, he surrounds himself with the aura of a potential martyr whose life is endangered by his rivals.

Apart from the clear immorality of Oli's behaviour, the question arises how it is possible that a prime minister whose faction only has about a quarter of the members of the House of Representatives behind him is nevertheless not forced to resign by the remaining representatives of the people. The explanation lies in the equally lacking morality and democratic attitude of the opposition leaders. All top politicians are also primarily concerned with personal power, not with the people and the nation, be they called Dahal, Nepal, Deuba, Paudel or whatever. They are all unwilling to put aside their personal ambitions for power to get Nepal's democracy back on track.

A second factor mentioned in this context is the unclear situation within the NCP. Both factions insult each other with accusations that go beyond any framework of politeness and exclude each other from the party. Yet an official split of the NCP has never been carried out. Both factions are demanding that the Election Commission recognise them as the legitimate NCP under that very name and with the electoral symbol of the sun. Although early parliamentary elections are off the table for the time being thanks to the court ruling, at some point the Election Commission will have to make a decision and the two factions will have to make a clear separation.

However, they both clearly do not want the latter, as they are aware that the split is likely to make a parliamentary majority for the communists impossible in the long run, as was the case after the 2017 elections. Although the Nepali Congress (NC), as the main opposition party, has not been able to gain many points despite the Oli government's numerous advantageous proposals, the party is likely to win significantly more direct mandates again if the NCP splits. Oli's then CPN-UML was also just ahead of the NC in percentage vote share in 2017. Already within the NCP, the Oli group is the smaller faction today. Oli's failures on almost all fronts of governance, his authoritarian and in many cases human rights-suppressing policies, and most recently the utterly senseless waste of taxpayers' money through the unconstitutional dissolution of parliament and the forced preparation of early new elections are likely to cost the Oli faction further votes. In any case, if the NCP were to split, the votes in favour of that party in new elections would be split between two parties. This too would probably play into the hands of the NC.

These considerations have now also reached the top politicians of the Dahal Nepal faction. Since it has become clear that neither of the two opposition parties, the NC and the Rastriya Samajbadi Party Nepal (RSPN), is prepared to support a vote of no confidence against Oli in the reinstated parliament as long as the NCP's internal party relations have not been clarified, there have been tentative considerations to restore the NCP's unity after all. But that would mean accepting all of Oli's misconduct and continuing to accept him as prime minister and party leader. That would indeed be a change of mind that would be difficult to convince rationally and democratically minded people in Nepal of.

The very misery of Nepali democracy, which is particularly evident in the current crisis, has a lot to do with the lack of democratic structures in the parties. All parties are extremely centrist and oriented towards a few leaders, who in turn usually form factions within the party over time. Whoever makes it to the top level of the party is almost impossible to get out of it, no matter what he is guilty of and how miserably he fails in the fulfilment of his tasks; all prime ministers of the last few years can be cited as examples here. This is also due to the fact that the lower party levels have hardly any influence on the top party levels. The top politicians decide to a large extent on the composition of the two highest party bodies and are careful to ensure that the proportion of their clientele is maintained there. Even in the nomination of candidates for parliamentary and provincial elections, the decision-making power lies largely with the central party leadership. This is the same for all parties. It also contributes to the fact that at least the upper levels of the party are far from reflecting the composition of society: In extremely patriarchal Nepal, men dominate quite predominantly, especially those from the Bahun and Chhetri circles. Given the aforementioned party structures, it is not to be expected that this will change quickly.

Another significant aspect is the inability to realise justice in relation to past crimes or misconduct, or strictly speaking, the denial of such justice. Here, too, all parties are involved. If one takes the massive international call for justice for the victims of the Maoist insurgency alone, it is clear that many of today's top politicians had to bear responsibility at that time, whether as direct participants such as the former Maoist leaders or as state politicians who were responsible for the deployment and conduct of the security forces.

Only two examples should be mentioned here. Pushpa Kamal Dahal declared some time ago that he was responsible for the deaths of around 5,000 people as the then head of the Maoists. But that does not stop him from continuing to aspire to leading state and party offices. It does not even occur to him to take responsibility before a court.

A second example is Sher Bahadur Deuba, the chairman of the NC and four-time prime minister. He paved the way for the Maoist insurgency when, as prime minister in 1995, he militantly yet unsuccessfully tried to suppress the initial organisation of the Maoist party in mid-western Nepal. In early 1996, he refused to even discuss the 40 demands of the Maoists, although most of them were completely rational and many dealt with the state policy guidelines of the then constitution, which the government paid little attention to. In 2001, Deuba then pushed through the mobilisation of the army against the Maoists, which led to a complete escalation of the conflict. The fact that in 2002 he also called on King Gyanendra to dissolve parliament, thus dealing a death blow to the political system of 1990, is also worth mentioning in view of Oli's current misconduct.

Against this background, it is legitimate to ask whether the current party political leaderships are not mainly responsible for the permanent crisis and the constant setbacks of Nepal's democracy. If one answers this question with a yes, one should discuss how Nepal can move towards a better democratic path. However, it should not be enough to replace the old failed leaders with a new generation. This generational change must be accompanied by a complete renewal of the political parties, whereby in the multi-ethnic state of Nepal, adequate social inclusion is finally needed.

(23 February 2021) Democracy is still alive in Nepal! For a good two months, Prime Minister Oli could pretend that he was an absolute ruler, that he was above the Constitution and any legislation. Like Oli, his closest henchmen and his defenders proclaimed in the Supreme Court that the prime minister had every right on his side. Early elections in April and May would be completely out of the question.

Now the Supreme Court has finally delivered its verdict. In the end, it was very quick and unequivocal: the dissolution of parliament and all of Oli's machinations in recent months were unconstitutional. Parliament must be reconstituted and convened within 13 days.

This is the verdict that everyone convinced of democracy and the rule of law had expected from the Supreme Court. Thanks be to the court for putting all this in such a clear form.

What is missing now is the accounting of Oli as a person. In relation to him, the ruling means that Oli's actions cannot be described as anything other than a coup. This must result in the harshest measures against him personally and also against all those who justified his actions with hair-raising justifications in court. The statements maliciously violated better knowledge.

Let us hope that those responsible at the top of the other political parties finally come to their senses and are able to democratically elect a new government into office. It will be their task in the remaining one and a half years to complete the numerous shortcomings of the Oli government with regard to the implementation of the constitution and a socially inclusive and secular federal state.

(3 February 2021)  Even 45 days after the dissolution of parliament by Prime Minister KP Oli and President Bidya Devi Bhandari, the proceedings on the constitutionality of this action continue in the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the submissions of the lawyers of the plaintiff sides have been completed. Since Monday, the lawyers of the government side have had the floor.

It is striking that the latter, in contrast to the lawyers of the plaintiff side, hardly refer to the constitution in their justification of Oli's and Bhandari's action. This is probably due to the fact that the Constitution does not really provide a justification. Thus, the defenders of the Oli government declare that such action is perfectly normal for a parliamentary democracy. Or they claim that Oli's action was necessary to preserve Nepal's sovereignty and nationalism.

One has to think several times about what lies behind these arguments. According to the constitution, Nepal's sovereignty lies with the people. The representatives legitimately and democratically elected by the people are the members of the House of Representatives. They therefore represent the sovereign people in Nepal's parliamentary system.

Dependent on this House of Representatives is the executive power. The representatives of the people elect a Prime Minister, who then forms a Council of Ministers to carry out and coordinate the official business of the country. To be elected, the prime minister needs the approval of a majority of the MPs within the House of Representatives. If a party has a clear majority in the House of Representatives, that party's top candidate is usually confirmed as prime minister, as provided by Article 76 (1) of the Constitution. If no party has an absolute majority, the candidate additionally needs the votes of one or more other parties, according to Article 76 (2).

When KP Oli was elected Prime Minister in February 2018, his CPN-UML did not have an absolute majority in the House of Representatives. Oli was therefore elected under Article 76 (2) as he was also still elected by CPN-MC MPs who had already formed an alliance with CPN-UML in the elections. Therefore, as required under Article 76 (4), Oli faced a vote of confidence in the House of Representatives within 30 days, in which he received almost 75 per cent of the votes. This whopping majority was further consolidated two months later when the two parties merged to form the NCP.
Now, in a parliamentary democracy, it can happen that over time the approval a prime minister receives from parliament or even within his own party changes. This is a perfectly normal democratic process. The reason may be, for example, that the prime minister has pursued bad policies and has not fulfilled his duties in the necessary manner. It can also be that inner-party rivals have their own claims to power and therefore question the office of prime minister. These are all processes that occur in every democracy.

In such a case, it is the task of a prime minister to prove that he or she still has the confidence of the representatives of the sovereign people. In accordance with the basic principles of a democracy, this is done by the prime minister asking the House of Representatives for a vote of confidence. If he wins this, he automatically remains in office and his opponents have failed. If he loses the vote, he is automatically voted out and another candidate must seek the majority of MPs. In addition, his political opponents can also bring a vote of no confidence in parliament on their part. If a prime minister sees no chance of winning the vote of confidence in parliament from the outset, he can of course resign right away. These would have been the only options for the hard-pressed Prime Minister Oli in December 2020 at the latest. In fact, he should have faced these democratic options much earlier in order to avert greater damage to Nepal's state and society, especially in times of pandemic.

But Oli seems to understand and interpret the constitution and democracy differently. He probably sees parliament as representing the sovereign people only until they have elected the prime minister. After that, sovereignty passes to the latter. This is evidenced by Oli's dealings with parliament over the past three years. When parliament was active, important laws were often simply not passed. Time and again, Oli bypassed parliament by issuing ordinances in close cooperation with the president when parliament was not in session. This was easier for him, because then he was not bound by any votes and could push through what he liked.

The amendment to the Constitutional Council's decision-making procedure on 20 December was tantamount to a constitutional amendment by ordinance. The dissolution of the House of Representatives just five days later was a stab in the back for Nepal's fledgling democracy. It turned the constitution's provisions on sovereignty upside down. The Prime Minister, dependent on Parliament and accountable to it in every respect, dissolved the elected body of representatives of the sovereign people to preserve his personal power and impose policies that marginalised his political opponents. The argument of Oli's lawyers now before the Supreme Court that he had no other choice to preserve sovereignty, which is actually that of the people, is probably understood only by himself and his most adamant supporters. And the argument of preserving nationalism bodes ill. For months, Oli has presented himself as a Hindu fundamentalist. That would be the last thing Nepal needs now.

Oli and Bhandari undoubtedly bear the main responsibility for the escalation of the political and constitutional situation. But one should not absolve Oli's inner-party opponents, as well as the top politicians of opposition parties, from a more or less large share of the blame. In particular, in the context of the disputes on the streets and in the media, no real separation is discernible on all sides between the question of the legitimacy of Oli's steps and their own respective ambitions for power.

(10 January 2021)  The unresolved legal situation continues unchanged, while PM Khaga Prasad Sharma Oli continues to intensify his campaign for the new elections he has called for the House of Representatives.  He accuses the four former chief justices, who had clearly declared themselves on the unconstitutionality of the dissolution of parliament, of interfering in an ongoing court case and attempting to influence the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, he himself continues to claim every right to call his action constitutional; that the House of Representatives will not be reinstated under any circumstances and that the elections will be held as announced. But such words from the mouth of the Prime Minister, of course, have nothing to do with influencing the decision of the judiciary.

At the same time, Oli is trying to keep the state apparatus under his unrestricted control. Thus, in order to preserve the appearance of democracy, the winter session of the remaining parliamentary chamber, the National Assembly, was convened on 2 January, but on 10 January Oli had the session ended again after only four meetings. The fact that he spat on the floor of the National Assembly on this occasion makes it clear what he thinks of this democratic institution. Also, why does Oli need a legislature at all when Nepal has such an able and powerful PM? This way, Oli can pass laws, as he wants them, by ordinance and have them signed by his president. He has repeatedly used this as an ideal way in the past almost three years of his tenure.

Meanwhile, demonstrations against Oli's unconstitutional actions (here called so with no hidden agenda of influencing the court out of full conviction) are taking place in all corners of the country. Meanwhile, Oli also likes to have such demonstrators arrested by the police. At his own election rallies, the wearing of black masks is strictly forbidden, as this could be a symbol of protest. Even black breathing masks have to be removed. What does Oli care about protective measures against the spread of the pandemic? Any other kind of demonstration is also prevented at such events. In Dhangadhi, for example, a group of young people were arrested because they wore appropriate shirt inscriptions to remind people of the continuing lack of investigation into the rape and murder of Nirmala Pant and demanded justice. Since the crime, there have been accusations that the highest political circles are deliberately preventing the investigation.

Finally, the camp of the advocates of a return to monarchy and the Hindu state must unfortunately also be addressed. The anniversary of Prithvinarayan Shah's birth is a welcome occasion to remember the founder and military unifier of modern Nepal. While it is true that Nepal owes it to this Shah king that it still exists today as an independent state and has not been absorbed into the Indian Union, it must also be remembered that the policies of Prithvinarayan Shah and his successors are responsible for the system of patriarchy, inequality, exclusion and discrimination that makes it so difficult today to transform Nepal into a modern democratic state.

Significantly, ex-king Gyanendra once again spoke out today, pretending that his main concern was the preservation of the country. What is meant by this was made clear by Kamal Thapa, the chairman of the RPP, when he once again called for a return to monarchy and the Hindu state. Criticism of today's supposedly democratic politicians is made easy for the monarchists these days. Oli and the other so-called top politicians are well on their way to destroying the country. But they are only completing what the monarchy could not complete before. Only a younger charismatic generation of politicians from among Nepali citizens with a commitment to inclusion, democracy and secularism and an aversion to theocracy and overrated political ideologies can save the country!

(8 January 2021) How similar things are: When the US president incites his most diehard supporters to initiate a coup from above against the state and democracy for the purpose of retaining power, statesmen all over the world condemn his action.  Not so PM Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli and his government in Nepal. Why should they, Oli has behaved similarly to Trump after he could no longer hold on to power through democratic means. Trump has the American parliament stormed, which was about to confirm his ouster, Oli dissolves the Nepalese parliament so that the democratically elected representatives of the sovereign people there cannot deprive him of executive power.The latter, by the way, is a legitimate democratic right of parliament. Yet Trump in the US and Oli in Nepal have, in four respectively three years of failed politics, provided ample grounds for voting out or removing from executive power.

What is missing in Nepal is a binding decision by the Supreme Court. Despite numerous shortcomings, the Nepali constitution speaks clearly about Oli's actions. Numerous constitutional experts and leading jurists have taken a clear stand. Objections and justifications have already been explained. Why does the Supreme Court not come to a judgement immediately? Every day seems valuable in this case.

Democracy and the nascent federal state are in danger of collapsing if the constitutional issue is not resolved quickly. The political parties are already in an election mode, so to speak. Although they continue to protest pro forma against Oli's actions, this seems more like a means to an end. Ultimately, the leaders of the different party-political camps are concerned with personal power. They have always been willing to use any means to achieve this.

Thus, Oli travels the country and declares to his remaining supporters at mass meetings (What does he care about the pandemic?) that everything he has done has been done on the basis of the constitution; the new elections are coming as he ordered; this cannot be reversed at all. Thus, Oli also decides on the rule of law of his actions. He does not need a Supreme Court for this. His current journey through the country is already pure election campaigning. Let us hope that he will at least pay for the costs of the trips and the events; they have nothing to do with his PM office.

The Dahal-Nepal faction of the NCP continues to pretend that its primary concern is the withdrawal of the dissolution of parliament. In keeping with the media, its leaders position themselves in a strictly hierarchical order at the forefront of the sit-ins on the streets. However, since it became clear that the other parties are not willing to join them in protest actions, the focus for Dahal and Nepal has also shifted more towards new elections. The visible sign at the moment is the effort to be recognised by the Election Commission as the legitimate NCP with a view to the future.

Although the main opposition party NC continues to protest against the dissolution of parliament independently of the Dahal-Nepal group, its leader Sher Bahadur Deuba has already repeatedly expressed that he is hopeful of becoming prime minister for a fifth time through possible new elections, after all he has only failed miserably four times. Meanwhile, Oli as well as Dahal and Nepal are courting Deuba, as new majorities are needed to form a government in the event of a restoration of parliament.

One party whose votes could also play a role in this is the Janata Samajbadi Party - Nepal (JSPN), as the third strongest faction in parliament so far. This party is also protesting against Oli's actions, but is also shying away from joint action with the other demonstrating parties.

Of the other parties, the RPP should be mentioned here, although this party seems completely insignificant in view of the election results of 2017. The problem is that this party of die-hards is trying to use the chaos caused by Oli and the NCP to promote a return to monarchy and the Hindu state through mass demonstrations.  Their leaders are proving that they have clearly not understood the history and society of Nepal. The demand for such a step backwards is unlikely to be successful, but it further exacerbates the current chaos. (Tsak Sherpa)

(6 January 2021) The political crisis continues. Today, the Supreme Court began hearing the 13 constitutional petitions that followed the dissolution of parliament by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and President Bidya Devi Bhandari. Of the 5 judges of the Constitutional Bench, Hari Krishna Karki has retired. He had been accused of bias as he had served as Attorney General during the first Oli government. The trial is scheduled to resume on 13 January 2021.

Meanwhile, both infighting between the two factions of the NCP at all levels of the federal system and protests by other parties continue unabated. Both NCP groups are showering accusations on each other and trying to damage the other group and push it out of power. For a long time now, this dispute has been endangering the very foundations of the entire state, especially since the leaders of the two factions seem to be mainly interested in their personal ambitions for power.

PM Oli is continually escalating into a defence of the legality of his actions. In the meantime, he is even claiming that this was a purely political measure on which the Supreme Court is not even entitled to judge.

One can only hope that the Supreme Court will reach a verdict on the constitutionality of the dissolution of parliament as soon as possible. In a democratic state, a prime minister has only two options if his government loses its majority: resignation or at least a vote of confidence in parliament. The elected representatives of the sovereign people sit in parliament. Oli owes his office only to the election by this Parliament, which alone has the right to deprive the PM of legitimacy. The dissolution of the House of Representatives, avowedly for Oli's personal retention of power, is therefore tantamount to a coup d'état.

But even if the Supreme Court reverses the dissolution of parliament, there remain legitimate doubts that this parliament will last much longer. The top politicians of the two factions have already destroyed Nepal's democratic system too much. There will be no stable governing majorities either at the central level or in the provinces after a possible restoration of parliament. In any case, the question of legitimacy remains. At the top of all the major parties are ageing leaders, some of whom have already failed several times or whose legitimacy to exercise power is at least questionable because of their political past. As a logical consequence, even if the House of Representatives is reinstated, there will probably be early elections sooner or later. However, with the current, largely over-aged party leaders, even these could be forgotten. Given the large parliamentary majority, the Oli government would have had a unique opportunity to stabilise Nepal politically and advance the country's development. Oli has miserably squandered this opportunity.

Meanwhile, the Corona pandemic continues to affect all aspects of life. But that does not seem to interest the politicians of all parties at all. The daily announced case numbers may seem low compared to western industrialised countries, but the value of the numbers mentioned is doubtful in view of the extremely low number of daily tests. While in most countries of the world the numbers of infections and deaths are steadily increasing or at least have remained at a high level for weeks, the numbers in Nepal continue to fall unabated. And this despite the fact that the Oli government continues to do absolutely nothing to control the spread of the pandemic.

Economically, too, there is hardly anything that can be glossed over. So the comments on the revival of the all-important tourism sector seem like a nice dream. Reports on the death of hotels speak a clearer language. In view of the current world situation, Nepal should rather assume that 2021 will remain another lost year for international tourism. (Tsak Sherpa)

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