KP Oli failed to get vote of confidence. Who will become the next Prime Minister of Nepal?

NL Today

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Kathmandu: After fleeing twists and turns in Nepali politics for over a week, Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli faced the floor test at the lower house of federal parliament on May 10. He lost the confidence vote by the margin of 21 votes. While 93 lawmakers voted in his favor, as many as 124 lawmakers voted against. With this, there will be political exercises to elect a new prime minister.

After losing the confidence vote, he is by default a caretaker Prime Minister. The constitution, experts say, has not clearly defined the further procedures to appoint a new Prime Minister after the resignation of the incumbent after losing the vote of confidence. However, looking at the past precedents, the head of the state can invite the parties to form a majority government.

So how will the next PM be appointed? Who will it be? Here are few likely scenarios:

First, as the largest party of parliament—with Madhav Kumar Nepal faction still with UML—and with support from Mahantha Thakur faction of JSPN, Oli himself might stake the claim of the Prime Minister. In between, he might bring Madhav Nepal faction on board too.  With Madhav Nepal and one faction of JSPN, Oli will have 137 parliamentarians on his side, enough to form a coalition.

Alternatively, Oli might concede to Madhav Kumar Nepal to appease his rival faction but this possibility is minuscule. 

Second, Sher Bahadur Deuba, as the opposition leader, will take other opposition parties into confidence and initiate the process of forming a new coalition government. But this will be possible only if the Maoist Center (48 seats) and the whole of JSPN (32 seats) stand together with Congress, which has 61 seats.  

Third remote possibility is, Oli will forward Mahantha Thakur (in which case JSPN will have to stand united and support Oli’s move) as the Prime Minister and form a coalition government. This would also help his image in Tarai Madhesh.  

Fourth, with support from Nepali Congress and Maoist (Center), Baburam Bhattarai or Upendara Yadav can become the PM. This is a little-discussed possibility; however, for this too, JSPN should remain as a united whole.

Fifth, if other political parties fail to claim the government’s stake, the President can appoint KP Oli as a minority government under article 76 (3) because even without the Madhav Nepal faction supporting him, he will command the support of the largest number of lawmakers in UML. Oli appointed under this provision will again have to obtain a vote of confidence, in which he is likely to fail.

What then? There are two likely possibilities:

a)  A consensus government can be formed under Article 76 (5) of the constitution

b) By invoking Article 76 (7) of the constitution, Prime Minister then will resort to dissolve the House of Representatives and announce fresh elections, this time citing the failure of the House of Representatives to elect the new PM. Given the unpredictable nature of Oli, he might prefer this option, even push for it. Addressing parliament on Monday, he said in jest (perhaps he meant it) ‘give me the vote of confidence and  I will not dissolve the parliament,’ meaning I will keep the House alive only as long as you accept me as the PM.  

(Nepal Live Today’s wish: Nepal Live Today appeals to all political leaders to respect the parliamentary process and norms, abide by constitutional obligations by maintaining a high level of integrity and transparency and conduct themselves in such a way people won’t lose faith in political institutions and parliamentary system.)