It is election time here in Nepal.
The country is electing an assembly that will draft the country’s constitution. The country was ruled for over 200 years by a monarchy. The monarchy was abolished in 2008 as part of the resolution of a civil war that lasted over 10 years, . Since then, the government has struggle to create a constitution. The first elected assembly failed to complete the task and now a new group is being selected.
And what a choice! There are over 150 parties in Nepal. Thirty-three of the parties, lead by one of the Maoist factions, have formed a coalition to boycott the election. They are doing whatever they can to prevent people from campaigning and promise to make life difficult on voting day. For the ten days leading up to the election, they called for a transportation “bandh” or strike.
We were told to stay away from work on the first bandh day, but since then it has been business as usual, except for a lot less traffic. We were also told to avoid using taxis, so we have been staying at home more. The election is Tuesday and we have been told to stay home.
One bonus of the bandh is less traffic. Less traffic means clear skies. Just at a time when the mountains have lost their cloud cover.
Even with the traffic bandh, the other parties are out campaigning. In our neighborhood, that means vehicles with loud speakers passing by, or small groups with flags.
This afternoon I found a sample ballot on our driveway. The ballot has symbols that represent the other 122 parties that are participating in the election. Not only is there the hammer party and the sickle party, but also the hammer and sickle party.
We have not lived in a participatory democracy for 21 years. Interesting times ahead. The election is Tuesday and we have been told to stay home.