Nepal holds first parliamentary vote under new constitution

Nepal holds first parliamentary vote under new constitution

Nepal holds the first round of legislative elections today, the first under a new constitution. Nepalese will elect representatives to

Photo: AP

Photo: AP

Nepal holds the first round of legislative elections today, the first under a new constitution. Nepalese will elect representatives to the national parliament and state legislatures.

A strong turnout similar to the 75% in local elections earlier this year would lend mass democratic legitimacy to the vote. It will likely produce a stable government that will fulfil a full five-year mandate, with competition having come down to two strong coalitions—a left-wing alliance of communist parties is favoured over incumbent Prime Minister Sher Bahadar Dueba’s centrist Nepali Congress.

A leftist majority could end Nepal’s string of fractious, unstable governments and would favour China in foreign affairs. But, factionalism among the left could still divide the government, with the junior Maoist party advocating an ethnicity-based federalism that the leading Marxist-Leninists oppose.

However, the result will not be certain until the December 7 second round. Today, the country’s north goes to the polls, while on that date southerners will decide the government’s ultimate fate.