Communities that have been able to make it to parliament without reservation
South Asia Check / March 29, 2018
The issues of inclusion and affirmative action have dominated the public discourse in Nepal in recent days. In order to help make this discourse more fact-based, we are presenting statistics on the representation of several communities in major elected bodies of the country through the first-past-the-post (FPTP) elections.
We have presented this statistics to show which communities of Nepal have been able to send their representatives to parliament in proportion to their population, even without the aid of proportional representation (PR) electoral system.
During the Panchayat period, Khas-Arya caste group (chiefly Brahmin and Chhetri) was in the dominating position in the National Panchayat [national parliament]. This group is enjoying the same position in the newly-formed parliament also. Its representation in the current parliament under the FPTP electoral system is 1.5 times higher than the proportion of its population.
After the restoration of democracy in 1990, the representation of Madhesi communities in parliament has increased. The number of directly elected members from this community in the first Constituent Assembly was more than their proportion in the national population. This does not mean that all communities from Madhes are reaping the benefits equally from this increased representation. In the first Constituent Assembly, only 0.4 percent members elected under the FPTP electoral system were from the Madhesi Dalit community. Madhesi Dalits comprises 4.76 percent of the national population.
Dalits (of both hills and Madhesi) and Muslims are the two communities severely underrepresented in parliament through the direct elections. Therefore, these two communities should be the chief beneficiaries of proportional representation electoral system and reservation.
However, Newar, Gurung, Limbu, Rai, Thakali, Madhesi Brahmin, Kayastha (Madhesi), Rajput (Madhesi), Yadav and some other ethnic and caste groups have been represented proportionately or more than proportionately [with their percentage in population] in parliament through direct elections. For example, Yadav and Newar are 3.98 and 4.99 percent, respectively, of the total population, but their representation in the second Constituent Assembly through FPTP electoral system was 6.7 and 5.4 percent respectively.
Hachhethu Krishna, Shah Tula Narayan and Kamat Ram Kumar. 2015. Politics of representation in Nepal. Kathmandu: Nepal Madhes Foundation.
Vollan, Kare. 2015. Elections in Nepal. Kathmandu: Himal Books.
Election Commission Nepal
(Prepared by Sujit Mainali and Injina Panthi)
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