A Nepalese woman casts her vote during the local election in Bhaktapur, Nepal, Sunday, May 14, 2017. Nepalese lined up to vote Sunday for representatives in municipality and village council positions held in the Himalayan nation for the first time in two decades. (AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha)
AP Photo/Niranjan Shrestha

Dalit leaders being excluded from senior local-government positions

Elections
The biggest group in Province 2, Dalits will occupy almost zero positions of power in the local government.
  |   September 17, 2017

Dalits are the biggest group in Province 2, but they will occupy almost zero positions of power in the local government formed after the election on September 18.

As Nepal enters its third and final phase of local elections, data from Election Commission shows that five major parties competing in the polls – Maoist Centre, Communist Party of Nepal-United Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), Nepali Congress, Federal Socialist Forum Nepal (FSFN), and Rastriya Janata Party Nepal (RJPN) ­– have chosen mere 17 Dalits out of the total 652 candidates they have for mayors and chairpersons of rural-municipality.

This comes to less than 3 percent of the total nominations for the executive positions. In contrast, just over 16 percent of Province 2 is made up of Dalits.

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dalit-fsfnResults of the first two rounds of the election indicate that political parties are unwilling to find Dalit candidates unless they have been required to. If one considers the winning candidates from the three major parties (who make up over 94 percent of the total winners), less than three percent of mayors, chairpersons, and ward chairs are Dalits. About six percent of ward members coming from open seats are Dalits. Among the seat reserved for women, Dalits constitute only three percent.

The Local Level Election Act 2017 has ensured that around 20 percent of the total elected representatives of local government will be Dalit women, but almost no executive position at the local government will be occupied by Dalits. Just like with the representation of women in local government, the provision for reservation seems to have given the parties an excuse to not seriously consider Dalits leaders for senior positions in local government.

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This report is based on data analysis by Bhola Paswan and Shubhanga Pandey.