Newer Parties Could Make Gains in Nepal's Election, Analysts Say

Newer Parties Could Make Gains in Nepal’s Election, Analysts Say

KATHMANDU (Reuters) – Results from Nepal’s parliamentary elections held over the weekend began to emerge on Monday, with political analysts saying more established parties could lose some support to newer parties and younger candidates.

The ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba with the former Maoist rebels is pitted against the main opposition Nepal Communist Unified Marxist-Leninist (UML) party in the election.

There were no pre-election polls, though prior to the election political analysts had expected the ruling alliance led by the Nepali Congress to retain power.

Deuba’s Nepali Congress party won the first seat to be declared in Mustang district, the election commission said on Monday.

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Mustang is a remote district on the borders of Tibet region in China, with a population of around 15,000 and analysts said its result might not be indicative for the overall outcome.

“Mustang cannot be a test case…. when results from Kathmandu and other big cities come in then we could have a trend,” Bipin Adhikari, constitutional expert at Kathmandu University and analyst told Reuters.

“Traditional parliamentary parties are in danger of losing many of their seats to new parties or independent professional candidates,” he said.

Election of 550 members of the seven state assemblies were simultaneously held on Sunday. Two people were killed in election related violence, officials said.

Local media reports said the opposition UML was leading in 10 constituencies, the centrist Nepali Congress in six and the newly formed National Independent Party in five seats, though party officials said it was too early to get a sense of the final results.

All results are expected within two weeks.

About 61% of 18 million eligible voters voted on Sunday for 275-member federal parliament. Of them 165 seats would be filled on the basis of first-past-the-post and the rest through proportional representation system.

Chief Election Commissioner Dinesh Thapalia told Reuters that vote counting had started in around 80 constituencies.

“We hope to declare all results for 165 seats by Wednesday. Then we will start counting votes for proportional representation,” he said.

An exit poll showed independent younger candidates or those belonging to newly formed political parties that include young professionals like doctors and IT experts had an edge over some candidates fielded by traditional old parties.

The poll conducted by Kathmandu-based think-tank Global Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies (GIIS) and an online media house, showed voters between 18 and 35 years of age had voted for young candidates and professionals.

“The main agenda of this (young) group of voters was corruption control and economic development,” GIIS director Uttam Babu Shrestha told Reuters.

Shankar Pokhrel, general secretary of the UML party, however, said his group was certain of emerging as the largest group in the parliament while Gagan Thapa of Nepali Congress party said his party was expecting a “comfortable majority.”

(Editing by Manoj Kumar and Toby Chopra)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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