Sunday, January 29, 2012

Arthik Kranti

House of Parliament, Kathmandu, NepalImage via WikipediaZee News: Nepal PM announces economic development plans
The list of projects mentioned in the vision paper includes completing Kathmandu-Terai fast track road, starting construction of a second international airport outside Kathmandu, preparing detailed project report for 600 MW Budhi Gandaki hydropower Project and starting construction of the 750 MW West Seti project to ease the country's power shortage within the next fiscal year. ....... The 108-page plan of action has proposed 27 programmes, including restructuring of ministries and bringing regional administration offices under the Prime Minister's Office, to achieve good governance.
Rajnitik kranti. Madhesi kranti. Arthik kranti.

The difference is the economic revolution is going to last three decades.
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Monday, January 16, 2012

A Directly Elected President Is Not Going To Be A Dictator

English: leaders of CPN maoist of Nepal.Image via WikipediaI am not talking electoral college. In America the president is not elected directly or Al Gore would have won in 2000, not George Bush. I am talking electing the president directly in Nepal.

President Or Prime Minister?

Let's imagine a scenario. We have a new constitution and now it is time to head towards elections. The Maoists and the Madhesi Morcha might form an alliance again and Prachanda might be the Maoists' candidate for president. There would be a strong chance Prachanda would get elected.

He would have a four year term. If he does a good job, and the alliance holds, and if he wins again, he might get a second four year term. There would not be a third four year term for him after that. After that he could choose to retire, or he could contest elections to become a member of parliament, it would be up to him.

As Commander In Chief of the Nepal Army his most important tasks might be to (1) democratize the Nepal Army, and (2) to rightsize it, to bring it down to something like 30,000 soldiers and in the process have it reflect Nepal's ethnic and gender composition.

The annual budget for the country would originate out of the president's office, but unless it is passed by the two houses of parliament, that budget would not come into effect. That is called check and balance. That right there is power for the parliament. And it is very likely the Maoists would not have a majority in the parliament. No one party would. A president who could not pass a budget without the parliament would not be a dictator.

The president would have a cabinet. The president would appoint ambassadors.

The parliament would have a Speaker, the head of the legislative branch.

A Maoist might end up president, but the Maoist party likely will not have a majority in the parliament. And there will be elections to the local bodies. It is going to be interesting to see which parties form governments in the various states in the country. And there are going to be local elections. There is going to be a great diffusion of power thanks to federalism.

We might opt for parliamentary style Chief Ministers for the states just to keep the Nepali Congress happy, and to not end up with too many elections.
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Monday, January 02, 2012

President Or Prime Minister?

English: Sketch portrait of Pushpa Kamal Dahal...Image via WikipediaI was super engaged in 2005, 2006 and half way through 2007. I have been rather disengaged from the middle of 2008. But I just came across this article by Kanak Mani Dixit that gave me a glimpse into some of the work that is being done into the new constitution.

He seems to be opposed to the idea of a directly elected president. I have supported the idea. And I don't think my support has been an attempt to copy the American way. In America they don't elect the president through direct vote. I think Nepalis should elect their president directly, one person one vote counted nationwide. If no one person gets at least 50% of the vote there should be a runoff election within a month among the top two candidates.

A directly elected president with a four year term and a two term limit might not be such a bad idea.

(1) It will force a bipolarization of parties, only an alliance of parties could put forth a winning candidate.
(2) After victory the president would become sort of detached from the party.
(3) There would be stability.
(4) A two term president would be out of party and politics for good.
(5) There is something to be said of direct democracy. Forget electoral college. Let people vote for the presidential candidate directly. The idea has to be to vote for the person, not party. This will bring down the parties in importance. The attempt would be to forge a direct relationship between the president and the people.
(6) Don't make it a five year term, and do have term limits.

I am not sure Pushpa Kamal Dahal is a shoo-in for the job. Democracy has a way of surprising you. The Maoists would have to forge an alliance with either the Madhesi Morcha or one of the other two big parties - the Congress, or the UML - to ensure a victory for their candidate. But that coalition building is what happens in the parliament that elects a Prime Minister, does it not? Why not let that coalition building happen out in the open? For all to see?

I am for a directly elected president with a four year term and a two term limit. That president of course would be Commander In Chief of the Nepal Army.
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