Personal tools
You are here: Home News Analysis and Views Constitution Day And Stable Government
Log in

Forgot your password?

Constitution Day And Stable Government

Issue September 2018

Constitution Day And Stable Government

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


Nepalis in country and abroad have enthusiastically celebrated the Constitution Day as the national day on September 19, 2018. Three years have passed since the people’s Constitution came to exist; since then elections have been held for all levels of the federalism; and local, provincial and federal governments are put in place; and all the laws have been passed, and signed off into laws by September 18, 2018 for enforcing the Constitution. Thus, the political transition from the most undemocratic and despotic monarchical system to the federal democratic system for the people’s representatives to govern and provide the common people with services easily without any hassles and harassments has completed.


Everybody in the current Nepali political circle thinks that the current two-thirds majority government is stable, and nobody topples it down for five years. However, some serious political pundits did not think so rather they believe the government might go any time if the parliament wanted to. I fully agree with it. The government is stable only when it could stand firmly as the presidents of France and America do.


Constitution: Foreign and local folks have attempted to sabotage the promulgation of the people’s Constitution to be held on September 20, 2015. Disregarding the international norm of not interfering the internal matters of the neighbors, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi openly and shamelessly even imposed sanctions on Nepal for not postponing the announcement of the Constitution. However, the brave Nepali political leaders disregarded the concern of the mighty and powerful neighbor, and declared the people’s Constitution as scheduled.


Since then, one government after another has been making every effort possible on creating an environment conducive to enforce the Constitution and institutionalize Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. Political leaders grouped and regrouped and formed one government after another to effectively create all the tools and instruments in other words the laws, rules and regulations required for implementing the Constitution.


The second government after the promulgation of the Constitution held the local level elections, and firmly set up the local governments called municipalities and village councils. This has been the first step toward institutionalizing the federal setup.


Following the understanding reached between the two political parties, Prime Minister Prachanda formally turned over the reins of the government to the president of Nepali Congress Sher Bahadur Deuba. He became the third prime minister after the promulgation of the Constitution not counting Prime Minister Sushil Koirala that had presided over the promulgation of the Constitution.


Prime Minister Deuba had successfully held the provincial and federal elections. Unfortunately, his party Nepali Congress could not garner the required seats in the parliament to be an effective political party because of his dictatorial nature of running the party and the government.


However, Deuba did not honor the principles and values of the democratic system not immediately quitting the party presidency after the disastrous results of the elections for his party, and thus dishonored himself, and tarnished his reputation being a non-abiding person of the democratic principles and values in the eyes of the true democrats.


Not only did not Deuba quit the party presidency but also refused to resign from the office of the prime minister even though he had lost the mandate to remain in the government. He went on appointing one provincial governor after another, and naming a capital of one province after another. He claimed that these were his constitutional responsibility. However, it should have been the duty of the new government people have just voted for. Thus, denying the political leaders that had received the mandate from the government and then denying everything to be done immediately after the elections, Deuba had surely ignored the principles and norms of democracy.


Ultimately, Deuba quit the government paving the political leaders of the parties that have the combined strength of almost two-thirds majority in the House of Representatives to form a new government. That had happened only in February in 2018 after over three months from the completion of the elections to the House of Representatives.


The Deuba administration had put in place the National Assembly electing its 56 members holding the elections at seven provinces for electing eight members from each province, leaving the president to appoint three persons on the recommendation of the prime minister. However, the president did not appoint the persons to the National Assembly as long as Deuba had been in office.


KP Oli became the prime minister, and inherited the half-done National Assembly, and the recommendation of three persons for the president to appoint to the National Assembly, and many laws, rules and regulations to craft for enforcing the Constitution fully, and institutionalizing Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.


Then Prime Minister Oli recommended three persons of his choice for the president to appoint. The president did it promptly making the 59-member National Assembly complete. Provincial lawmakers and elected officials of the municipalities and village councils together were an electoral college for electing the members of the National Assembly from each province.


As the National Assembly is a permanent body, one-third of its members’ term expires every two years. So, for the first time, all the 59 National Assembly members have to draw a lottery to find out their terms of office. Thus, the lottery draw has decided the terms of National Assembly members as a two-year, four-year term, and six-year term.


Prime Minister KP Oli and his government have to craft all the laws and rules and regulations by September 18, 2018. That was the deadline the Constitution has set for the government to strictly follow. Amid so many rumors of the possibility of not crafting the laws before the deadline ends to institutionalize Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal as scheduled, the Oli administration did it. The president signed off the 16 bills the parliament had passed into laws on September 18, 2018.


Thus, the political transitional period has ended. All the provincial governments and local governments have the tools and instruments to run the provincial and local administration, and deliver the State services without delay. They have no excuse but to run the governments efficiently, sincerely and without corruption so that the people could receive the State services promptly.


Many politicians and so-called political analysts and experts have doubted the implementation of the Constitution; and they even went on saying that the provincial governments and the local government could not function because the federal government did not want to give the power to them. However, those folks must have grossly ignored the requirement of laws and rules and regulations to be crafted for the State power the provincial and local government to enjoy. In addition, the provincial and local governments themselves have to craft laws, rules and regulations following the power the Constitution has provided them with.


Then, the Constitution becomes the fully implemented document, and Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal is a reality. This is the dream of the people repressed for over 240 years of the Shah-Rana despotic rulers that had done nothing but exploited the common folks for their lavish life style, and kept the common folks in poverty and disease denying every sorts of civil rights, and education and health and even minimum foods required for survival. So, the life expectancy had been only 24 years even during the first half of the 20th century.


Government: The current government of KP Oli could go out of power at any time if the majority of the lawmakers submit a vote of no confidence against the prime minister, no matter what majority the ruling party has in the House of Representatives, as vividly shown in the change of government in Australia every nine months despite the ruling party having the majority in the parliament. Some lawmakers did not like the prime minister; then they revolt against the prime minister and put someone on the chair of prime minister; wait for some time, and then put another one the next time. That is the parliamentary system.


No matter how strong the prime minister is s/he is always vulnerable to the lawmakers. If s/he were not able to keep the majority of lawmakers pleased then the prime minister might lose the job voluntarily or forcibly in no time. For example, currently, British Prime Minister Theresa May has had hard time to keep the mouths of some lawmakers shut up. Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson was for pulling her down. However, she has been sticking to the job so far.


However, some strong personalities might even be the dictatorial even in the parliamentary system of governance. For example in 1980s, the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had been very strong and she dictated her ministers and even lawmakers. In 1970s the then Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was so strong she behaved almost like a dictator. She even imposed a state of emergency in India from 1975 to 1977. She had almost killed the democracy in India; actually she did so for two years.


Even then, any prime minister is vulnerable to the House of Representatives, which could remove any prime minister and elect any new one at the pleasure of the lawmakers. So, any prime minister has to keep the majority of the lawmakers happy and satisfied not the voters and the common folks that have voted for her or him. So, s/he could ignore the public, did not need to care about the public opinions in other words s/he was not held accountable to the voters. How such a head of government could have the track record of good governance in such a case. S/he acting as a comedian even though is a prime minister could laugh at anybody at any thing at any time, and make others to laugh as long as s/he could keep the majority of the lawmakers satisfied and happy.


The worst part of the parliamentary system of the governance Nepal has adapted is all the ministers have had to be the members of the parliament means either of the House of Representatives or of the National Assembly. Nobody could be so sure that they could run the administration properly not to mention efficiently because they are politicians and they have the political background not the administrative. Maybe, millions of well qualified and capable folks were available at the market that could run the administration not only efficiently but also whip the bureaucrats to work as required for meeting the target of “Prosperous Nepal, and Happy Nepali.” However, they don’t get the opportunity because of the system. The lawmakers no matter how many grades they have completed in their lives become the only folks qualified for the ministerial jobs. They become the bosses of the highly qualified and experienced bureaucrats in the State administration.


Anybody could refresh her/his mind to an unfortunate event of the minister locking up a bureaucrat in a toilet in the past because the minister did not like him. He is a member of the current cabinet, too. Fortunately, that had been a single case of the physical torture of a bureaucrat. Nobody knows how many cases of the mental tortures ministers must have inflicted on the bureaucrats because such incidents do not come to light through the media even through the word of mouth, as every bureaucrat prefers to keep silent for her/his own sake. They prefer to suffer quietly rather than coming to limelight.


Unlike the parliamentary system, the presidential system is really for the stable government. For example, Republic of France has a president elected for six years. No matter what happens to the parliament, and to the lawmakers, the president stays on for six years. Similarly, the United States of America elects a president every four year. S/he remains in office no matter how badly s/he handles the job.


Such directly elected presidents could chose anybody for any ministerial job, and fire anybody at any time. Thus, the president makes his ministers work for the people, who have voted for the president, as the president enforces the election pledges for which people have voted. That makes the country really prosperous even though some people are not happy.


Presidents keep their election pledges. They are held accountable to the voters. They have to do what they have said on the campaign trail. People in general and voters in particular keep the watch on what the president is doing and what is not.


The president’s chance to win the second term entirely depends on how the president functioned in the first term. So, every president’s focus will be always on keeping the voters and supporters happy during the first term of office in America. Like it or not presidents have to do something for the people otherwise they would not have a chance of getting elected for the second term of office.


Thanks to the constitutional provision made for only for two terms to be the elected president of the United States of America, most of the presidents despite doing the fantastic job they could not run for the third term. That really prevents them from being the lifetime president or lifetime prime minister as has been happening in some so-called democratic countries.


Why Nepal did not have the presidential system of governance. The answer is the protagonists of the parliamentary system particularly the Nepali Congress wanted so. They believe that the presidential system would make any president a dictator and they would lose democracy. What a good fantasy it has been.


Those folks belonging to the Nepali Congress claim to be the born democrats could not think how any president that needs to seek the mandate from the voters every four or six years or whatever years any constitution provides be a dictator. Anybody losing the election after the first term returns to be a regular simple citizen with the title of a former president. So, there is no chance of any president becoming a dictator whatsoever.


Most probably, the Nepali Congress folks have the different definition of democracy. If they were to follow the correct definition of democracy, the president of Nepali Congress would simply follow the constitution of the party. However, more often than not the president behaved more like a dictator than a democrat.


For example, the then Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba after the defeat of the Nepali Congress in the parliamentary, provincial and the local elections simply brushed off the simple requirement for any democrat to resign from the party presidency. However, Deuba not only stayed on as a party president but also ignored the provisions made in the party constitution for working as a president of the Democratic Party.


However, a political personality such as Girija Prasad Koirala had strictly followed the democratic values and norms. He resigned from the Nepali Congress party presidency after the defeat of his party in the general elections in 1994, and the second time he quit the office in 2001 when he could not control the violence in the country. Both the time, Sher Bahadur Deuba got the chance of taking up the power. If Girija were not to follow the values and norms of democracy as Deuba did probably Deuba would have never been the prime minister. However Deuba did not simply follow Girija, and did not keep the values and norms of democracy.


Nepal has the parliamentary system that does not hold the prime minister accountable to the people and voters rather to the parliament and lawmakers. So, anybody vying for the office of prime minister could say anything on the campaign trail and then forget whatever s/he has said and do whatever s/he likes. That is the parliamentary system.


In addition, the parliamentary system does not make any government stable. Prime Minister Oli would need to leave the office if the lawmakers wanted so. He is answerable to the lawmakers no matter what majority his party has. In a case of when any one of the political parties has no majority then the prime minister becomes more vulnerable to not only her/his own party’s lawmakers but also the lawmakers of other political parties in alliance with for running the government.


Conclusion: The current political party in power has the two-thirds majority; so, the political leaders needed to amend the Constitution for making the provision for electing an independent and powerful present so that s/he would not depend on the parliament to run the State administration. A powerful and independent president could not be a dictator, as we have seen elsewhere in the countries where the presidential system is prevailing.


The parliamentary system makes the prime minister vulnerable to the lawmakers. Any prime minister could not be an independent decision maker, as the prime minister is dependent on the parliament. Nepal needs an independent president to make strong decisions on curbing the endemic corruption in the bureaucracy and political parties, and enforce strictly the rule of law.


September 19, 2018

Document Actions