Sunday, April 13, 2008

what is a fair election?

It's about 2 AM in the morning and the more I try to sleep, the more thoughts come into my mind. Instead of flipping in my bed umpteen times, I decided to let it all out over here.

Nepalese people participated in a historical election on Apr 10. Yes, it was historical because Maoist guerrillas who have been waging a so called "people's movement" decided to lay down arms and join democratic political process. Whether it was really a people's movement that's a topic for different blog but let's talk about this election here.

According to Nepalese Election Commission, there was about 60% polling which by any standard is a success. But the commission as well as some foreign observers affirm that poll was fair except some booths where some irregularities were observed. As of today, the commission has decided to do a re-polling on 70 of booths. But what is a fair poll process? I believe in KISS principle so to me a fair poll process is process where each concerned party has equal opportunity to share their manifesto and future plan with general people AND people vote without any fear or coercion.

It's very well known fact that some of candidates (Surya Bahadur Thapa in Dhanusha for an example) could not even hold a rally in their constituency because Maoist or other parties did not let them. Poll was supposed to start at 7 AM in morning in constituency number 6 of Sarlahi district and booth was closed without a single person voting because all ballots had already been stamped. I am sure these people formed part of 60% that the election commission projected. In terms of security, there were one police with a gun and three polices with baton in most of booths as per my conversation with friends whom I talked over the phone on the day of voting. Commission proclaimed that they were fully prepared for the election. What the heck?

I sympathize with the commission that they did not have enough time to prepare. So why was the election not split in two or three days if there were not enough resources??

What bothers me the most is so called independent observers including honorable president Mr. Carter. Carter center called the election remarkable and excellent. My question is what benchmark and data set were used to come to this conclusion? As per my conversation with folks across different constituencies in Terai region, they did not come across any foreign media and observers. My question to the Carter center and to Mr. Carter is this: Is visiting polling centers in Kathmandu and Pokhara enough? Did you consider visiting areas which were known to be problematic to assess preparation? Is this what expected from the Carter Center? Can somebody fill me with the details please?

Off to bed....


wanderingellimac said...

it is hard to administer a fair and healthy election when there has not been an election in so many years and especially since there has been the monarchy for the last two to three hundred years.
i think looking at the history of the maoist insurgery there is no surprise how the elections are going and even the inconsistencies at some of the polling places. but the elections were put off before so how does the government really prepare?
i agree with you that Carter kept it to the very touristy and localized places - kathmandu and pokhara can't tell you much other than they are big cities. the activity you speak of happens elsewhere.
keep writing...

Anonymous said...

Very sensible posts. The manner in which the poll observers conducted is very doubtful.

One thing is clear.. Nepal is not in the hands of nepal people.

Adipti said...

Well What I can say is, the election is successful. There are mainly 3 reasons maoists won the election.

First, they have been telling that they have to win anyhow or they will go back to war. This made people think that they have to give them votes so that they won't go back to jungle as people have already experienced a lot of tragedy during last 10 years and they cannot let it be again.

Secondly, As the previous politicians had never done good to the country. They were always hurried to fulfill their needs and not the country and citizens. So this has caused the people to choose new party. In my point of view, what I think is that people want changes and not the same as before. What people might have thought is that , if they give the votes to old parties, Nepal will remain the same as it is now and if they give votes to new parties, the new parties might do something good or something bad but Nepal will change for sure.
We can also see that big politicians have lost in election in Kathmandu. This shows that people are fade up with these politicians and their thoughts. People want changes and new Nepal.

Thirdly, there can be some miss behaves of Maoists which made people to vote to them.

Lets see how these new politicians make New Nepal.


Jhakkash said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jhakkash said...

Thanks for your comment. Please see my other blog

on what could have led to Maoist's landslide win. I agree with you in everything but terming election as successful.