Using Elections as a Tool for Promoting Peace, Social Cohesion

NTTP-Institute, in close collaboration with SCDP-UNDP and support from ESP, conducted series of consultative meetings, workshops and dialogues at select provincial HQs and municipalities from August 7 to Nov 7, 2019 to identify major challenges to credible and peaceful elections and to assess their impact on peace and social cohesion. Altogether 12 Focused Group Discussions (FGDs) and more than 100 Key Informants’ Interviews (KIIs) were conducted before 10 workshops and 4 dialogues took place at provincial and municipality levels.  On Dec 6, 2019, central workshop was held in Kathmandu with participation from senior political party leaders, parliamentary committee chairpersons, members of both federal parliament and provincial assembly and some NTTP Thematic forum members.

Field level activities were focused on providing space for local and provincial actors to reflect on Nepal’s electoral trends, identify local triggers conflicts and explore local initiatives to prevent the elections from turning into flashpoint of violence. They shared their feelings, analyzed the trends and identified areas where local actors’ initiatives would be effective in promoting peace and social cohesion. They were sensitized on how elections in Nepal were used as tools for managing conflicts and why use of peace lens was necessary during elections and performing responsibilities by elected representatives in the aftermath of elections.

Central level workshop focused mostly on analyzing the field-level findings.  Central leaders were seen serious about whether the elections were being able to ensure true representation of marginalized section of the society and whether the set up created by the elections were using peace lens in their activities.  Majority of the participants during central workshop were in favor of reviewing electoral system to reduce electoral malpractices that were tarnishing the image representative institutions and affecting sanctity of elections. Some participants, however, suggested for exploring the ways to improve current system instead of replacing entire political and electoral system every one or two decade.

All the participants from municipality to central level were in favor of  establishing some loose platforms where key actors sit together, share their observations and analysis of elections, democracy, governance and conflicts, warn the government if they see some threats and recommend appropriate responses to such conflict in regular basis.

Municipality and provincial workshops and dialogues were facilitated by a team comprising former Chief Election Commissioner Mr. Bhojraj Pokharel, former Election Commissioner Prof.Dr. Birendra Prasad Mishra, former Speaker of House of Representative Mr. Daman Nath Dhungana, former Minister of Federal Affairs and Local Development Mr Vidyadhar Mallik, former ECN Secretary Mr. Madhu Regmi,  NEOC General Secretary Dr. Gopal Krishna Siwakoti, senior journalists Chandrakishore and Umid Bagchand, and NTTP Executive Director Mr. Youba Raj Acharya.  National Workshop was facilitated by Dr Siwakoti and Ms. Stella Tamang.