March 25, 2023

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Elections in Nepal: Youth challenge old generation in power

Nepalis go to the polls on Sunday for the second legislative election in the young Himalayan republic’s history, where young people hope to oust an older generation in power for decades, although they have little chance of winning.

The election aims to renew 275 seats in the House of Representatives. The country’s two main political forces, the Nepali Congress (Centre) led by incumbent Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Duba and the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN-UML) are facing competition this time as several independent candidates are contesting in disappointing fashion. Against the caciques who had monopolized power for decades.

A waltz of prime ministers, most of whom have been in office for less than a year, and a culture of clientelistic politics fuel distrust among Nepalis, many of whom believe their leaders are out of touch with reality.

While analysts expect the political establishment to regain dominance in the next assembly, the drive for change is clear.

“People say, ‘We are cheated, there is discrimination, we have to pay bribes, we don’t have clean water, we don’t have jobs,'” said AFP Rabbi Lamichane, 48. A wave of new independent candidates.

This popular and charismatic TV host knows how to bring a crowd together. Thanks to scathing political interviews and hidden camera reports, many leaders have been caught in the act of bribing routine public services.

These broadcasts resonated with Nepali people who were appalled by rampant corruption and corruption of all kinds.

– the fifth time –

“Young voters are now the dominant force. Before, it was the parents or grandparents who decided who the family was going to vote for. Now it’s the children,” political analyst AFP said. Hari Sharma said.

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“Established political parties and their leaders are unable to speak the language of these young voters,” he adds. “These voters think their leaders have failed.”

This older generation in power experienced a civil war that ended in 2006 after ten years with more than 17,000 deaths. A peace accord signed at the end of the conflict led to the abolition of the monarchy in 2008 and transformed the former Maoist guerrillas into a dominant political force.

Since the end of the conflict, power has fluctuated between former guerrillas and pre-war political elites. Sunday’s assembly elections are the second since a new constitution was adopted in 2015, after a decade of political turmoil.

Nepal’s parliament continues to be plagued by instability: no prime minister has ever been able to complete a term. The current president, Sher Bahadur Duba, 76, is in office for the fifth term.

Public discontent is growing as remittances from many Nepalis working in Nepal dry up as the economy struggles as the coronavirus pandemic hits the country’s main tourism sector.

Inflation is rising and the government has banned the import of many goods, particularly alcohol and television sets, in order to protect its dwindling foreign exchange reserves.

But analysts say the nature of Nepal’s parliamentary system is likely to bring established parties back to power.

Nepal’s next prime minister will have to balance the traditional rivalry for influence between its Indian and Chinese neighbors and deal with Chinese criticism of US-funded projects in the country.

“It is unlikely that a single party will get a majority,” predicted AFP Gunaraj Luidell, editor-in-chief of Nagarik newspaper. “It will be the same power games again and the same coalition governments.”

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Nepal’s isolated Himalayan communities make each national vote a logistical feat, and election commission officials say it will take “four to five days” to know the result.