Nepal’s most-awaited legislative elections 2017 kick-started as the country’s citizens exercised their voting in the first phase of elections held on November 26, 2017.
The first phase of Nepal general elections 2017 was held in 32 hill and mountain districts of six provinces across the country.
According to the Election Commission (EC) of Nepal, the first phase of parliamentary and provincial elections elections saw a 65 percent voter turnout as per the preliminary estimates and the number is expected to be high post the final analysis.
“The voter turnout percentage can rise, as we have yet to include data from some places,” says the Chief Election Commissioner Yadav.
“Despite the difficult terrain, climatic conditions and sporadic anti-election activities, the first phase of elections has been conducted in a peaceful, free and fair way. This is a major achievement towards institutionalizing federalism,” EC said in a statement.
“Due to effective security arrangements made by the government, the elections were held peacefully,” said the Chief Election Commissioner Ayodhee Prasad Yadav after the conclusion of voting process on the day.
According to Ila Sharma, a member of the Election Commission, there were some minor issues from a few places.
Even the election observers from the international and national organizations lauded the Nepali Government’s efforts in holding a peaceful electoral process in the first phase.
According to the Nepali Home Ministry, there was an encouraging public participation in the first phase polls.
“I could not just stay back. I want to vote for the candidate who will develop this village and the district – a candidate with wisdom and compassion, a love for the country. Such a candidate can do much when they get to power,” a voter reportedly said.
Meanwhile another woman voter was quoted to have said, “We need roads, water supply, electricity, health care and jobs so our children are not forced to go abroad to work.”
However, the average voter participation in this election was termed lower compared to the Constituent Assembly elections in 2013 and local elections in 2017, which saw 78.74 percent and 74.16 percent turn-outs, respectively.
The first phase of elections was held for 74 provincial assembly and 37 federal parliamentary seats under the First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) system, while the elections for the remaining parliamentary seats were slated to be held across 45 districts on December 7, 2017.
NHRC Concerned Over Deprived Voters
Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), in its release, raised serious concern that some of the voters were deprived of voting rights because of the long distances they stay at from the poll center.
In this regard, NHRC urged the government to ensure that such situations are addressed and all the voters get a chance of voting.
According to NHRC, voters did not turn up at some places because of the lack of voter education and relevant information.
A Game-changing Election
The result of this general election is expected to be a game-changer for Nepal as the Nepali citizens are foreseeing the new constitution and efficient governance through this election by putting an end to the long-standing social turmoil in the country.
This election is also expected to bring a major transformation in the Nepali political landscape as evident in the broader alliance formed by the two major communist parties of the country.
After 2008, it was in 2013 that Nepal saw its last election for a constituent assembly that eventually doubled up into a parliament.