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Parties continue to bicker over threshold

Parties that are against threshold say big political parties want to maintain monopoly by keeping the provision

Jan 25, 2017-Threshold continues to be the major bone of contention as a subcommittee under the State Affairs Committee (SAC) of Parliament plans to pass the Bill to Integrate and Amend Laws Related to Political Parties on Wednesday. 

Lawmakers from major parties such as the Nepali Congress (NC) and the 

CPN-UML have stood in favour of keeping 3-5 percent threshold under proportional electoral system, while smaller parties are against it, as they fear the provision could deprive them of representation in provincial assemblies and federal parliament.

A subcommittee under the State Affairs Committee of the Legislature-Parliament on Tuesday concluded clause-wise discussion on the bill. 

Lawmakers who have called for putting threshold in place have said it should be somewhere between 0.5 percent and 10 percent. 

The Election Commission has proposed 1.5 percent threshold. 

UML lawmaker Rameshwor Phuyal, a member of the SAC sub-committee, said threshold is one of the key issues that has prevented lawmakers from reaching consensus. 

Phuyal, who has registered an amendment proposal demanding threshold of 5 percent, said not having threshold would mean even the political parties with insignificant people’s support can become ministers. 

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Thursday inducted Prem Bahadur Singh, whose Samajbadi Janata Party was scrapped by the EC last year for not submitting audit report for three consecutive years, and Kumar Khadka from Akhanda Nepal Party as ministers.

Singh’s party had secured 25,215 and Khadka’s party had secured 36,883 votes.

Sanghiya Loktantrik Rastriya Manch (Tharuhat) is another example.

The party which secured a seat in the Constituent Assembly in 2013 had received 21,128 votes— 0.22 percent of total cast votes—under proportional electoral system.  

Small parties that are against threshold have their own arguments. 

Chitra Bahadur KC of Rastriya Janamorcha Nepal asked whether small parties were responsible for all the wrong in the country. 

“Big parties’ demand that there should be threshold is aimed at maintaining their monopoly in politics. This is unacceptable to us,” said KC. 

Small parties claim that even without threshold, not all the political parties contesting in the elections are represented under proportional representation system. 

For example, of the 127 parties which were registered with the election body for contesting elections in 2013, only 30 parties made it to the CA.

The EC had sought certain threshold arguing that issues like preparing ballot papers and other preparations are hampered when parties in large numbers contest the elections. 

The EC gave up the idea of using electronic voting machines in 2013 elections largely due to a large number of political parties. 

“The proposal of keeping threshold of 1.5 percent is just symbolic. Political parties have to take a call on threshold issue,” said Election Commissioner Ila Sharma.

The EC had proposed 3 percent threshold before the 2013 elections were held. 

The 1990 Constitution of Nepal also had a provision that said a political party must secure three percent of total votes cast for it to be recognised as a national political party. 

“If a candidate of a certain party which has secured less than three percent of total votes cast is elected to the House of Representatives, such person shall be deemed to be an independent—not belonging to an organisation or party,” the 1990 Constitution of Nepal said.

Besides threshold, differences persist also on whether the state should finance political parties.

Published: 25-01-2017 08:33

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