Nepal’s Communist parties poised for election landslide

Supporters of Nepali Communist Party Nepal-Union Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML) and Communist Party Nepal (CPN-Maoist Center) attend alliance election campaign mass meeting event in Katmandu on Nov. 28, 2017. Nepal is gearing up for its first national elections under the new constitution, introduced as part of the peace deal that ended the country’s brutal Maoist insurgency, cementing its transformation from a Hindu monarchy to a secular federal state. (AFP/Prakash Mathema)
Updated 11 December 2017
0

Nepal’s Communist parties poised for election landslide

KATMANDU: Nepal’s Communist parties were headed Monday for a landslide win in elections seen as a turning point after two decades of conflict, political instability and disaster that have crippled the Himalayan country.
The landmark elections for national and provincial parliaments capped Nepal’s 11-year transition from monarchy to federal democracy after a brutal civil war.
Many hope they will usher in a much-needed period of stability in the impoverished country, which has cycled through 10 prime ministers since 2006.
An alliance of the main Communist party and the country’s former Maoist rebels is expected to form the next government, ousting the ruling centrist Nepali Congress.
The Himalayan Times said the left alliance’s strong mandate meant the country “could experience political stability,” which it has lacked over the last decade, but cautioned that a strong opposition was also crucial in the young democracy.
With counting still going on, the leftist alliance has won 97 seats in the national parliament according to preliminary data from the election commission.
That puts them on course for a hefty majority in the country’s first federal parliament, which comprises 275 seats, 110 of which are allocated on a proportional representation basis.
They are also leading in six out of seven newly created provincial assemblies mandated in a new national constitution, which was finally agreed by parliament in 2015 in a rare moment of political consensus months after the country was devastated by a powerful earthquake.
The charter laid the ground for a sweeping overhaul of the political system to devolve power from the center to seven newly-created provinces.
It was intended to build on the promise of a more inclusive society integral to the peace deal that followed the end of the civil war between Maoists and the state in 2006.
But the constitution sparked deadly protests among ethnic minorities who said the provincial boundaries it laid out had been gerrymandered to limit their voice and demanded change.
The Maoists and the Communist CPN-UML have often found themselves on opposite sides of parliament, but formed an electoral alliance ahead of the polls.
The alliance campaigned on a promise to bring stability and growth to the impoverished Himalayan nation.
Its victory returns many figures of the tumultuous transition period, including CPN-UML leader K.P. Sharma Oli, who is expected to be the new prime minister.
Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal, a two-time former prime minister who led the rebel faction during the war, is also tipped for a prominent position in the next cabinet.
The newly-elected provincial assemblies will be tasked with naming their provinces, which are currently referred to by number, choosing a capital and negotiating budgets with Katmandu — all issues that could rekindle ethnic unrest.
But the protest movements have lost momentum as voters have become fed up with the political merry-go-round that has starved the country of much-needed development.
Most voters voiced a desire for stability and a longer lasting government, while also expressing hope that the new provincial assemblies will prioritize local needs.
The new constitution also lays out strict rules for ousting a prime minister, meaning this government could be the first to last a full five year term.
Final results are expected by the end of the week.


Macron must unify France as unrest is hurting economy: Le Maire

Updated 50 min 42 sec ago
0

Macron must unify France as unrest is hurting economy: Le Maire

  • Le Maire would not be drawn on a figure for annual economic growth in 2018 but said the wave of unrest was hurting France’s image among foreign investors
  • Le Maire reiterated his desire to accelerate tax cuts but suggested he was not in favor of reinstating a tax on wealth

PARIS: President Emmanuel Macron needs to unify a country divided by the forces of globalization in a national addresses on Monday and end anti-government protests that will cut economic growth by about 0.1 percentage points, France’s finance minister said.
Protesters rioted in Paris and cities across France on Saturday in a fourth weekend of unrest that first erupted over high living costs but has morphed into a broader anti-Macron rebellion.
“Our country is deeply divided, between those who see that globalization has benefited them and others who can’t make ends meet, who say ... globalization is not an opportunity but a threat,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told RTL.
“It is the president’s role to unify the country.”
Le Maire would not be drawn on a figure for annual economic growth in 2018 but said the wave of unrest was hurting France’s image among foreign investors and would knock 0.1 percentage points off output in the final quarter.
Macron will make a televised address at 20:00 local Paris time (1900 GMT) as he seeks to placate “yellow vest” protesters, whose revolt poses the most formidable challenge yet to the 40-year-old leader’s 18-month presidency.
Le Maire reiterated his desire to accelerate tax cuts but suggested he was not in favor of reinstating a tax on wealth — known as the ‘ISF’ — that Macron narrowed when he came into office, and which earned him the tag ‘president of the rich.
“Does the ISF help reduce poverty, reduce our debts, reduce public spending? No. If you want to hunt for money, go knocking on the doors of digital tech companies,” Le Maire said.
Le Maire said last Thursday that France would tax digital giants at a national level from 2019 if European Union states could not reach an agreement on a tax on digital revenues for the bloc.
“It is time they paid a fair level of tax,” he told RTL on Monday.