Nepal: Elections, Voters and the Economy

Nepalis Are Not Dumb. They Voted Parties with Best Economic Policies for Nepal

By Siromani Dhungana/UWB

“An empty stomach is not a good political adviser”- Albert Einstein

The Constituent Assembly election is over now but its impact will remain until the next election. People have expressed their aspirations and exercised their power during this election so as to set the progressive course for issues that matter them the most. After humiliating defeat of left-extremism, there is hue and cry among so-called progressive analysts who think the country still needs extremist agendas to dominate Nepali life and influence policies. Supporters of left-extremism (aka ethnic federalism) are trying their best to interpret the result as voters’ revenge against Maoists but not their approval of stands taken by the Nepali Congress and the UML on federalism (multiple identity). In this article, I am not going after the ethnic extremists’ lame argument. This is my attempt to analyze the election results in the light of economy.

Victory of Free Market Economy

The Constituent Assembly election results show parties contesting on communist economic ideologies have been rejected by voters. Nepali Congress, which is considered as a party having the most liberal economic policies, got most numbers of votes especially in urban areas across the nation. The relationship between politics and economy is symbiotic. Economic development is not possible without ensuring political stability whereas without economic development, political stability is compromised. Slowly, voters are being conscious about economic agendas.

Vote for Peace and Prosperity

An estimated 70 percent of Nepalis went to polls on 19 November to elect a new constituent assembly assigned with the responsibility to write a new constitution and pave way for the foundation of a peaceful and prosperous Nepal. People filtered those parties who often take to the street to fulfill their demands but fail to deliver when they lead the government, Rameshore Khanal, former Finance Secretary, said while analyzing the election result. The victory of Nepali Congress in the urban areas clearly indicated that urban voters favored liberal economy, Khanal told UWB. “The majority of votes given to Nepali Congress reflect people’s will to be led by a political party which is in favor of social harmony and cohesion.”

Business goes beyond Ethnicity

Is state-controlled business and economy possible in the 21st century? Even Maoist supporters say ‘No’. Then why do you favor Maoist? They say: “We will go into the communism via capitalism.” Far ahead in creating catchy phrases and creating ambiguity using political jargons that normal people find difficult to understand and comprehend, left-extremism in Nepal has created illusions in economic issues too. In fact, they know either their economic frame does not work in the 21st century or they have been creating ‘false hope’ of prosperity among people. Maoists did the same in the past. They sold the dream of making Nepal like Switzerland in 20 years but their policies and vision were not compatible with their slogan. The entire business community was terrorized due to federal agenda put forth by UCPN Maoist, according to Rameshore Khanal. “Recent poll results might have relieved the entire business community.” More than 90 per cent businessmen do not want federalism based on ethnicity, he claimed. “The entire business environment would be more volatile if political parties that favor regional and ethnic agenda had won the election.” In business and economy, policy stability and consistency is more important than caste and region, he opined. “A businessman from Madhesh has to do business in Pahad and vice versa,” he said, adding that political parties now should raise the issue of ‘economic nationalism’ instead of creating tensions among various castes and classes.

‘Informed’ Voters

Nepali voters are not dumb though some self proclaimed Maoist progressives would like to believe they are. True, hungry stomach always does not decide based on conscience. But, their vote was not random selection. They favored political parties who can formulate relevant economic policies in the 21st century. Still, who can say our voters are not rational? I think, they are rational but political parties often fail to materialize their aspirations in a right way. I am not sure whether Nepali Congress will ensure transparency and accountability in the days ahead. I am sure in one thing; voters favored NC for peace, prosperity, accountability and transparency.

(Siromani is the editor of UWB. siromani@blog.com.np | Twitter: @siromanid)

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