Public disenchantment with figures in the incumbent coalition government is high. Driven by blatant corruption in high places, the same old politicians are angling for top posts over and over again, a prime minister who held the post five times before wants to continue holding on to it and is making murky backroom deals to rotate the office with his coalition partner.
The fact that turnouts in Nepal’s elections are still high means that there is hope for change. Turnout figures used to be nearly 80% in the 1990s after the restoration of multi-party democracy and has been going down, but it was still a respectable 65% in May.
A substantial number of those who cast their votes in May, at least in urban areas, showed a shift away from traditional candidates from mainstream parties and their ineptitude and broken promises. This trend has not yet reached critical mass, but it could gain traction in November – especially if the governing coalition fields tainted candidates.
The rise of the independents in Nepal is not a coincidence, it is change waiting to unfold. It is what has given hope to hundreds of thousands of young idealist Nepalis that they can be agents of reform. They have never cared about party-loyalty or twisted politics, but are more concerned with everyday issues like jobs, educational reform and affordable healthcare.
Be it in Dharan, Dhangadi or Kathmandu, the local election results demonstrated that Nepali politics is evolving so fast that it is leaving the old men who dominated it far behind.
It is not the strongest that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change, Darwin postulated. This seems to hold true not just for biological evolution but in politics too. It is not the survival of the fittest, but the most promising ones.
Just as a species will perish once they become incapable of adapting, if elections do the job they are designed to, then parties, politicians and legislators will become extinct as soon as they can no longer deliver the goods.
As difficult as it may seem at the moment for candidates to attract the youth to support them, there is also opportunity if their campaign strategy is adjusted.