Nepal held national, provincial and local elections in 2017, all under the terms of the constitution promulgated two years earlier. That constitution and those elections are tangible results of the ten-year civil war that gripped the Himalayan country from 1996 to 2006 and the lengthy peace process that followed.
The elections established a guaranteed 40 per cent representation for women at the municipal level and 33 per cent at the provincial and national levels, making Nepal the South Asian country with the best representation of women in elected government. Other previously marginalized and underrepresented groups were also elected to the national and provincial parliaments through quotas.
Nepal is emerging from a history of feudalism and conflict to stand as a remarkable example of inclusive democracy – at least in terms of its political structures. Now, the test for Nepal’s lawmakers will be to make sure that these successes result in real gains for the people of a country often overlooked between its giant neighbours, India and China.
Why did the Maoists revolt?
In 1996 Nepal’s Maoist party (of which I was a member) launched what became a protracted war calling for Nepal’s radical socioeconomic and political transformation. This armed movement directly challenged Nepal’s relatively new multiparty democracy, restored in 1990 after decades of absolute rule by the monarchy.
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