First Constituent Assembly election was held on April of 2008, with the main aim of writing a new constitution. As it failed to do so within its original and extended total tenure of 4 years, it was collapsed and new election was held on November of 2013. There were changes in the positions of the major political parties in these two elections.
Popularity is measure of support given by people to a party, in political context. It depends on various parameters like the quality of work the parties has done for the people, the ideas and values they promote, scandals the party or its influential member has been involved in, etc. It also depends on other political parties’ performance. It should be safe to say that identifying roots of popularity is a very complex issue. It is not surprising to see the popularity of a party changes from time to time, as vividly exemplified by both historical and contemporary national and international politics.
Though the process of gaining or loosing popularity is a complex process, its best way to measure it is counting the number of votes in an election. According to the interim constitution of Nepal, Nepalese people give two types of votes in national elections. They are called First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) and Proportional Representation (PR). FPTP voting is a method in which voters chooses a candidate they like and the candidate with most votes wins. All the votes casted for other candidates are not accounted for at all in this type of system. Similarly, PR voting is a method in which each and every vote is proportionally represented in elected body. In this study, we summed up both FPTP and PR votes in each constituency to obtain popularity. Furthermore, we summed up all the votes within a district as the comparison is done on district level. Ratio of votes obtained by a party in a particular district to the total votes casted in a district is calculated for the major political parties.
In this study, we compared the total number of votes obtained by each political parties and show how the popularity of the major parties has changed in these two election in all the districts of Nepal. Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), Nepali Congress, Communist Party of Nepal (UML) and Madhesi People’s Right Forum were the first four political parties with highest number of votes in first Constituent Assembly election. (Let me remind you, total number of votes is not equivalent to total number of people who voted. Two voting methods; FPTP and PR ensures that each person votes twice.)
More than 90 % of votes are distributed among the top three parties; CPN UML, CPN Maoist and Nepali Congress. Rest is divided among other 90+ parties. Maoist won the first election with 37.8 % of votes but was pushed back to third place in second election with 22.7 % of votes. Similarly, Nepali Congress, which was on second place with 27.7 % of votes in first election, became first in second election with 38% of votes. UML also secured 35 % of votes in second election which was nearly 10% more than first election. Madeshi People’s Right Forum got 7.9 % of votes in first election but was reduced down to 4 % in second.
In the map above, we have shown that there is wide fluctuations in the percentage of votes secured by each parties from one election to another. Since the starting of multi-party political system, Nepali Congress and CPN UML were the two major parties of Nepal followed by National Democratic Party. But in 2008, CPN Maoist succeeded to become the first party in the CA election. Maoist, which was raging civil war in Nepal for the past 10 years, was brought to the mainstream politics during people’s movement of 2006. The war was ended and Maoist came to accept multi-party political system. So, people expected better results from the Maoist party. This may be the cause for the higher voter-turnout for CPN Maoist party in the first election.
As the first Constituent Assembly failed to write new constitution even on extended time, it was collapsed and new one was elected in 2013. Maoist being unable to show any concrete actions, it was relegated down to third position in the second CA election. In this election, political structure again show its old face, i.e. Nepali Congress and CPN UML on the top positions. The party which was in jungle fighting for a decade, securing strong third position in a major election in such short period of time is a huge achievement for CPN Maoist party. Votes obtained by Madeshi People’s Right Forum, which has its presence only on the terai region, has decreased from first election to second, as can be seen on the graph. But, the fact that the party divided into two after the first CA election should be kept in mind. If considering the votes of the party which branched out as well, it becomes clear to us that, in fact, the popularity of these madeshi parties has increased and have become successful in showing their presence in more number of terai districts in second election.