Kathmandu: The local polls-2022 have given some interesting results prompting the intelligentsia and political class to think about its impacts on the upcoming federal elections outcomes.
The ruling coalition–Nepali Congress, CPN-Maoist Center, CPN (Unified Socialist), Janata Samajbadi Party Nepal (JSPN), and Rashtriya Janamorcha–had forged an electoral alliance for the local polls while the CPN-UML fought independently in most places across the country.
As many as 145,010 candidates threw their hats in the ring in the local elections held nationwide on 13 May, and 64 percent out of 17,733, 733 registered voters cast their ballots.
The result sheet
The results of the local elections are out (except only Budhiganga Rural Municipality of Bajura where the Election Commission has declared a repoll).
Nepali Congress bagged 329 chair/mayor and 301 deputy chair/deputy mayor positions while CPN-UML won 205 chairs and 240 deputy positions. CPN-Maoist Center won 121 chairs and 126 deputy positions, while Janata Samajbadi Party bagged 30 chief and 31 deputy chief positions. The CPN (US), a splinter faction of CPN-UML, won 20 chair and 24 deputy positions.
The Maoists Center did well creating a necessary political space by winning a decent number of seats. Electoral alliance with Nepali Congress and other ruling parties proved to be a boon for the party, at a critical time when it had nearly completely lost its stronghold and trust among the people.
The result is satisfactory for Nepali Congress, though, it is argued, it could have done even better if it faced the polls without an electoral alliance with other parties in the government. The grand old democratic party put its ideologies at stake by forming an alliance with the hardcore communist forces.
The CPN-UML also played well against the five-party alliance, although its seats were reduced at the local levels. It had bagged 294 chair and 331 deputy positions back in 2017 local polls. The party has, to a large extent, maintained its popular vote against the alliance.
The newly formed CPN (US) had hoped for more. But it came fifth, behind JSPN, a Tarai-based party, which also did not fare well.
Now that poll results are out, there are estimations and calculations regarding the parties’ strategies in the upcoming federal elections, both inside and outside the political parties. The local poll outcomes are most likely going to impact the strategies to be followed in the upcoming elections.
How will Nepali political parties fare in the upcoming elections then? What will be their election strategies after the local poll results? Here are some possible scenarios.
1. Nepali Congress carries on with the current ruling coalition for the federal elections. As the result of the local poll was satisfactory, it can forge an electoral alliance (with all other four parties or only with Maoists), to secure majority seats in the parliament.
2. Forging an electoral alliance with the communist force will be a matter of contention within Nepali Congress and some of its prominent leaders are going to stand against the move. It will spark a heated discussion inside the party for NC could have done equally good in the local polls without an alliance. In that case, it is possible that Congress will face the parliamentary elections independently to become the largest party in the parliament.
3. The local polls have pushed Maoist Center to a comfortable bargaining position. It will then bargain with both CPN-UML and Nepali Congress. There can be two possibilities in that case. One, Maoist Center will continue the alliance with NC, which will be ideologically incompatible. A democratic force and a communist force have been polar opposites throughout the history of Nepal. So, the continuation of the current alliance will still face headwinds from their party cadres and leaders. Two, Maoist Center will form an electoral alliance with CPN-UML. The ex patron party with similar ideologies will be much easier for the party to pair with. They, together, might fare very well in the election as in the past. However, the bitter experience they had together can make the leaders reluctant about coming into an alliance again.
4. Will each political party vie independently? There is a very slim chance for this scenario as the CPN-US and Maoist Center are in dire need of support and backup regardless of the local polls result.
5. There is also a chance for communist forces to come together. All the communist forces, with some Tarai-based parties, might stand together in a bid to garner a majority in the parliament. But, given the pretty cold relations the top communist leaders share with each other, this looks like a remote possibility.