More info (22nd Nov): Followups to this blog post can be seen here: How was the polling day? and Citizens’ Statement about Maoists’ walkout from vote counting. I have made some revisions about my prediction made on this post on the blog post written after polling closed across Nepal, and the results that are coming out right now confirm the general mood in Nepal I have described in this post.
This is the fourth post in my election-update series. The first one is here, the second one is here, and the third one is here. The first post contains the definition of the Nepalese “echo chamber,” a theme which will be referred to throughout this series.
Ushaft is probably the only one predicting a clear majority win for the Maoist party in Nepal’s upcoming election (just one day away). See my third post of this series for an explanation of why I think so. Many informed people who know the general mood in the villages and streets of Nepal are saying that it is difficult for the Maoist to repeat their success from the previous election. They are right about gauging the general mood in Nepal right now, but they will be proved wrong in their prediction that the non-Maoist parties will get ahead this time.
What is the general mood in Nepal
Reading my previous posts, it is not hard to understand that there are moral flaws in all major political parties in Nepal. However, ideologically, the biggest party UCPN-M is the only party that has time and again expressed its aim to overthrow the democratic system and establish a one-party dictatorship. It’s formal documents state that the war was one stage towards reaching this goal. The second stage, which they are in right now, is to “utilize” the multi-party democratic setup and ultimately destroy it. Good thing is that unlike foreign-observers of Nepal and the “echo-chamber” inside Nepal that is the main supplier of news and information for those outside, a lot of people inside Nepal are now aware of the Maoist plan. The Maoists have already led government at multiple times, held key positions and involved in several public activities since they decided to “pause” their armed struggle. The Maoists are one of the most corrupt political forces in Nepal, in all respects: morals, materials, practice, and ideology (for some more description, please see previous posts). They are unarguably the biggest violator of the election code of conduct right now.
The Election Commissioner, when he was asked about this, indicated that many violations had to be ignored for the sake of elections. This was exactly what happened during last elections. The Election Commissioner of that time has recently published a book, in which he reveals that many violations had to be ignored for the sake of elections, because an election right after the end of a war demanded some concessions to the force that had given up arms in favor of elections.
Echo chamber can fool outsider observers, but not the informed citizens of Nepal
The very brave civil society, an aware and watchful citizenry, with the combination of the vocal and largely independent media of Nepal (thanks to the democratic practice of post 1990, which despite the usual flaws of most post-1990 democracies of the world, had caused huge reforms in Nepal’s society) have not missed what has happened in this country in the past few years. As a result, even people who voted for Maoists last time have turned against them now. This is the general mood one can observe in districts, villages and streets. The support for Maoists has waned, and hugely. Last time, they were on the peak of their popularity, and even people like me voted in their favor for reasons I already mentioned in the previous post. The results of this mistake have been so harshly slapped on our faces that this time, very few dare vote just to give them “a chance” or for the fear that they might take up arms again and take the country many decades back by stopping progress and hijacking the civilized discourse in the society. Apart from those who would directly benefit from their win, the popular support for Maoists in the usually “undecided” and “neutral” voters has suffered hugely. The main beneficiaries are expected to be Nepali Congress and the UML. It is expected that the party that favors a reversing of course to bring back constitutional monarchy and a the title of a secular Hindu kingdom (RPP-N) would also make some gains.
Some believe that this is despite all the threats and violence the Maoist party is engaging in right now. People are so fed up and so motivated that they would brave all tolerable levels of threats and make it to the polling stations to make sure that moderate and democratic forces would take a lead this time, and correct the course of action Nepal has been on ever since the Maoists became the largest party after last elections.
(It is out of scope for this post to discuss the general mood in specific geographic regions and among ethnic groups of Nepal. But the general observation I described above holds generally across all strata of Nepalese society.)