Local polls: Nepal votes to elect local representatives for the next five years   

This is the second time Nepal is voting in the local polls after the country adopted a federal democratic system in 2015 following the promulgation of a new constitution.

An elderly woman casts her vote at a polling center during local-level elections in Baglung district. (Photo: RSS)
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Kathmandu: After five years, Nepal is voting again in the local-level elections across the country on Friday.

The election, which will form functioning local governments, is electing new representatives for a five-year term in six metropolitans, 11 sub-metropolitans, 276 municipalities, and 460 rural municipalities.

This is the second time Nepal is voting in the local polls after the country adopted a federal democratic system in 2015 following the promulgation of a new constitution. The first local polls after the enactment of the constitution were held in 2017.

This time, Nepal is electing 753 mayors/chairpersons, 753 deputy mayors/vice-chairpersons, and 6,743 ward chairpersons. 

Until now, 355 local representatives have been elected unanimously.

According to the Election Commission, as many as 65 political parties are competing in these local elections. Similarly, a total of 145,011 candidates have registered their candidacies, of which, 55,658 are male and 89,313 are female candidates.

Three decades of local polls

After the declaration of multiparty democracy, Nepal held its first local-level elections were held in 1992, and the second local elections were held in 1997.

After the peoples’ movement in 1990, a total of 4,015 village panchayats were transformed into 3,995 Village Development Committees (VDCs). Likewise, 33 town panchayat were transformed into municipalities. As many as 12 million voters participated in the elections in 1992.

Likewise in 1997, Nepal held local level elections in 3,913 VDCs and 58 municipalities. As many as 12.5 million voters participated in the elections. 

In 2006, Nepal hold local-level elections in 53 municipalities under the regime of then King Gyanendra Shah. However, the election was boycotted by major political parties.  

With the promulgation of the Constitution in 2015, Nepal adopted a federal structure, and a three-tiers government–local, provincial, and federal–was formed.     

In the first local-level election following the promulgation of the new constitution, the polls were conducted in three phases. The first phase of the local elections was held on March 13, 2017, in 34 districts of provinces 3, 4, and 6. The second phase took place on June 28 and the third phase on September 18.

What’s different this time?

The major political parties had vied independently in the 2017 local elections. CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Center formed an alliance only ahead of the provincial and local elections.

This time, five political parties have formed an electoral alliance for the local elections, in a bid to check the CPN-UML. Also, the local elections are being held in a single phase, unlike the previous elections. 

In these local polls, two major political parties–the Nepali Congress and the Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML)–are trying to show their strength by forging alliances with other political parties. 

On the one hand, the grand old party Nepali Congress has formed an electoral alliance with Maoists and other three political parties–Janata Samajbadi Party Nepal, Rastriya Janamorcha, and CPN (Unified Socialist).

On the other hand, Nepal’s largest communist party–CPN-UML–has joined hands with smaller political parties such as Rastriya Prajatantra Party-Nepal and Nepal Pariwar Dal. Many independent candidates are also competing in the election race.

A total of 260,000 security personnel have been deployed for the local-level elections. Among them, 100,000 are temporary police personnel (Myadi Police).

More than 65 thousand Nepal Police personnel, over 32 thousand Armed Police Force (APF) personnel, and 71 thousand Nepali Army personnel are mobilized for securing the election.

According to EC, there will be 10,756 polling stations and 21,955 polling booths across the country. 

The government doled out Rs 14.45 billion for the elections. The Finance Ministry has approved Rs 8.11 billion for the Election Commission, Rs 6.29 billion for the Home Ministry, and Rs 50 million for the National Investigation Department.