The Fabric of Democracy
Nepalis will be voting in local elections on 13 May for the second time under federal governance. But just five years later, there is already disillusionment with federalism and the lack of good governance.
As this editorial 20 years ago this week tells us, we need to strengthen democracy when it is threatened. If it did not work it was because it is misused.
Perhaps one prime example of this is how the top political leadership is openly threatening voters ahead of the 13 May polls. The mayoral showdown in Bharatpur, Pokhara and Dadeldhura will have a far-reaching consequence for Nepal’s politics.
Excerpts from the editorial from issue #93 10-16 May 2022:
After the euphoria of democracy is over, will it mean that fighting for freedom is easier than making it work? Will people power fail its ultimate test of putting in people in office who will make the difference to the lives of citizens?
Things are bad, yes. And this leads many to the authoritarian temptation. Paradoxically, it is a temptation that seems to strike not the rulers so much as the ruled. Citizens in many juvenile democracies have lost faith in their flighty leaders. As democracy falters, extremists move to fill the governance vacuum. Foreseeing conflict and anarchy, the people then regard a return to authoritarianism as a lesser evil. It is a search for a saviour that is borne out of desperation and extreme disillusionment with those who have misused and wasted the popular mandate.
The giddiness with which we greeted the restoration of democracy has long given way to apathy and cynicism.But that means having an alert citizenry, a pro-active civil society, a media that flexes itself and takes freedom to its limit. But that takes hard work. It is much easier to point out what is wrong than to do something to set things right. It is a lot less effort to be cynical.
The antidote to a faltering democracy is its more sincere and honest application, and a citizenry that forces its elected leaders to display more accountability and commitment. At no point is this more important than when conflict threatens our freedoms.
From archive material of Nepali Times of the past 20 years, site search: www.nepalitimes.com