Staying in Nepal I am witnessing first-hand the consequences of a Hobbesian breakdown in a national political consensus. To quickly recall history: A bloody Maoist led insurgency ended in Nepal in 2006 and in 2008 elections were held which the insurgents participated in. The resulting government was disfunctional and was unable to put together a new national constitution for the new republic – the monarchy was abolished in 2008. Appointees from the various parties eventually formed an administrative council which ruled the country ineffectively. New elections were held last Tuesday involving the moderate communists, the Unified Marxist-Leninist Party (known as the “cashists” on account of the extreme personal wealth of their leaders), the extremist United Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the conservative Nepali Congress Party. Another ultra- extremist party, the Communist Party of Nepal – Maoist (known even in Nepal as the “dashists”) boycotted the election and called a 10-day strike in the leadup to it. This “dashists” are violent and dangerous – a few motorists were burned alive for defying the strike and driving their cars during this period. (The right to prevent the election was described as exercising “democatic rights” by this party’s leader, Mr. M Baidsya, who said that those burned were “committing suicide rather than being victims of terrorism”).
The election has been held and so far the Nepali Congress and the moderate communists seem to be picking up the overwhelming majority of votes. Predictably the UCPN is crying “foul” – the elections have allegedly been rigged by local and foreign manipulators! There were many local and international observers (including ex-US President Carter) who dispute this. The election seems to be fair with a high voter turnout and an overwhelming rejection of extremism.
The UCPN is now talking of re-joining the violent “dashists” who boycotted the elections and of “going to war”. This aggressive effort won’t succeed but would cause major problems for Nepal. Nepal remains one of the poorest countries in the world. It does need a fairly strong central government but, more than that, it needs a commitment to accept the outcome of the democratic process. John Locke needs to replace Hobbes.