Report on Political Transformation in Nepal
Organised by Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES)
13 February 2013, Kathmandu
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Nepal
office and German Embassy together have facilitated a high-level
poltical dialogue between senior leaders of Nepal's eight mainstream
political parties and prominent German parliamentarians-Hon'le
Johannes Pflug, Member, Foreign Affairs Committee, Hon'ble Holger
Ortel, Agriculture and Transportation Committee and Hon'ble
Karin Evers-Meyer-Member Defense and Budget Committee of German
Bundestag and all members of social democratic parties. The
discussion focused on "Political Transformation in Nepal:
The Current Challenges and Opportunities for Cooperation."
Welcoming the participants and guests
head of FES Dev Raj Dahal said that Nepal is facing extraordinary
moment in the nation's political history. He said, "Nepali
leaders have demonstrated a great capacity for peaceful political
transformation. This has shaken-up its private and public lives.
But the pace and scope of transformation have been unsettling
in many ways for Nepali leaders and citizens to manage."
Dahal argued, "The consolidation of gain of inclusion of
the nation's diversity and popular sovereignty demands the stamina
of its constitutional polity, a polity which can rally the compliance
of citizens and match their rights and duties with the technological
and economic condition of modernity. This is essential to enable
its ordinary public to control the condition of their lives."
He pointed that in a struggle of winners and losers, Nepal is
derailing from many of its positive norms, values and institutions
that once shaped its moral fiber, stability and unity. He added,
" The sanity of the nation lies in the continuity of its
positive tradition which is vital for rebuilding a robust sense
of political community-the state. The sanity of leaders lies
in fostering change suitable for democracy, social justice and
stable peace." In this context, a balanced approach requires
rational solution of many of the nation's complex problems.
Ironically, the trajectory of Nepal's
political transition has just been shifted from one critical
phase to the next with the collapse of Constituent Assembly.
The new phase seems far more complex to resolve unless Nepali
leaders seek to achieve the best from each other, improve their
political purpose to end the current deadlock and help the country
come out of the condition of great adversity. This is the best
way to prevent the total paralysis of political power which
is imposing unfair burden on the nation and the people. Precisely
at this time, Nepali citizens are expecting from the leaders
to demonstrate statesmanship to set the nation's direction and
respond to the aspirations of citizens for economic benefits,
dignity of life and solidarity. Perhaps, we might have to consider
a Nepali version of Ostpolitik both to break the narrow walls
of interests, ideologies and identities and balance them within
the normative democratic order beneficial to all sides.
The main thrust of this dialogue was
to give support to Nepalese political parties to resolve the
current political deadlock and steer the polity to a renewed
legitimacy through national and local elections. It was also
about the sharing of experience between two sides, particularly,
how German leaders have transformed the nation from its tumultuous
past and built a healthy democratic society? Despite ideological
diversity, how do German political leaders shape common national
and foreign policies, resolve differences and shore up the process
of sustainable development, and wow social democratic party
of Germany has transformed itself into a modern political party
and shaping its future course?
Hon'ble Johannes Pflug, who has been
parliamentarian in Germany for 33 years said that political
leaders should not betray people. What you have promised to
the people is need to be given to them. Being a parliamentarian
or politician one has duties of providing functioning government.
Though situation in Nepal has improved after 2004 and it appears
that developmental works have taken place. In Germany, Nepal
is favorite for tourism and trekking but we are particularly
concerned and worried that there is no parliament in Nepal and
there is no favorite environment for capital investment needed
to meet the democratic expectation of people. He hoped that
situation will improve in the days ahead. Recalling his own
experience, he said that the role of opposition in Parliament
is very important as it provides space for the growth of robust
democracy. He also said that separation of power is also important
and so is the democratic culture of moderation, toleration of
diverse opinions and compromise. He also pointed out that the
President is calling for consensus among political parties and
it is the need of the hour for the parliamentarians to help
the President. He underlined that Nepali people deserve functioning
government that responds the need of people.
Hon'ble HorgelOrtel said that politics
is all about building trust among people and in order to build
trust, ideology should not prevail. It is always difficult to
ascertain what his good and what is bad in politics. The political
'isms' such as Communism, capitalism, socialism, liberalism
have their own merits and demerits but we have to strike a right
balance by looking into our own situation and context. Hon'ble
Ortel said that big ideas may not work all the time and everywhere.
We have to find out own ways to move ahead. He also talked about
Buddha's 'Middle-Path.' He also said that, in Europe, we are
sad about Nepal's situation. I, believe, Nepali politics has
become victim of 'old-fashioned' ideologies. He further said,
that what I feel for this country is that the young people should
come forward and lead the country with fresh ideas free from
ideological dogmas. He underlined that it is only Nepalese who
know their country and problem best, not the outsider. Too much
dependence on outside will spoil your own values and culture.
We, Germans, don't want to do that. Hob'ble Karin Evers-Meyer,
who has supported a Shahaj Community Hospital in Gaidakot, underlined
the need of women's representation in every aspect of state
affairs. She hoped that more women will come up in the next
election and occupy leadership position.
Mr. Sharat Singh Bhandari, National
Madhesh Socialist Party and Former Minister for Defense,Culture
and Sports asked how one can overcome the situation of stalemate,
when people at the helm of the power, do not want to address
the problem, though they know the problem but pretend not to
know. He said that it is difficult to wake-up those who pretend
to sleep then those who are really sleeping. One can compare
Nepal's political situation with this metaphor said Handrail.
He further said that everybody talks-talks but nobody is serious
in really addressing the problem. Everybody is trying to fulfill
their own interest (both partisan and individual) in one way
or the other. How do we come out of this dilemma - I am sure,
you must have gone through same type of pain and odyssey in
Germany and can share your experience of overcoming such situation.
Ho'ble HorgelOrtel and Hob'ble Johannes
Pflug said that it is common that we also had gone through same
type of situation that you are going through now. But we should
not forget that we have duty toward our citizens and society.
Our own experiences suggest that creation of functional groups
within the parties and serving for them will create more problems.
We have to reconcile at some point for the benefit of broader
society and stand above interest groups of society to serve
the general public.
Dr. Prakash S Mahat, Member, Central
Committee, NC and former Minister for Foreign Affairs and Energy
reminded that German and Nepal enjoy special relationship and
until 1990s Nepal did not require VISA to go to Germany. It
is our very good developmental partner and we thank German government
and people for the generous development cooperation. He also
said that we have enough experiences and we do not need to go
for more experiments. Germany is the best example how propaganda
can bring disaster in society. He reminded that when you just
listen very attractive slogans don't go by that and people here
in Nepal have now realized that at last. We are behind in many
ways but we are optimistic that good days are ahead and our
relationship with Germany will further strengthen in the days
ahead and democratic political culture flourish.
Mr. Arjun Thapa, Member Foreign Affairs
Committee of Madehsi Jana Adhikar Forum and former Vice-President
of International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY), said that
the need of the hour is fresh election and for it we need to
strike compromise among political parties which is not taking
place. This is the real challenge for us to find common ground
for power-sharing and resolution of contentious issues of federalism,
election system, form of governance, citizenship, etc. He also
thanked FES for providing various inputs on social democracy
and kicking the democratic debates alive in Nepal.
Mr. Bishnu Rimal, Member Politbureau,
CPN-UML and President of GEFONT said that we have learned a
lot from Germanys' experience and political system. Political
awareness in Nepal is very high. Many of the debate that we
do here in Nepal are from Germany, for example, the concept
of co-determination, welfare state and social security. He also
asked about the future of social democracy in Europe following
the crisis of capitalism and its theoretical assumption.
Hon'ble Johannes Pflug responding to
the ideologies said that we discussed and discussed about the
Marxism (communism) but could not come to the agreed conclusion.
Our parties started splitting and splitting and many of them
became too radical. Then we have decided to go for the middle
path (social democracy) and various other parties joined in.
I think the need of the hour is 'middle-path' and the recent
financial crisis has also proved it. He responded to other several
theoretical concepts and answered the problems brought about
by the financial crisis.
Mr. C. P. Mainali, President, CPN-ML
and former Local Development Minister, said that there are so
many equalities in Marxism and socialism. We have three different
political transition during the last six plus decades but it
has become very difficult for us to consolidate achievements
of each transitions of 1950, 1990 and 2006 due to lack of socio-economic
and institutional preconditions. He also reminded that we have
had our glorious past, we have our own philosophy and values.
But we have failed to continue them with the transition as we
were swayed by the wave. In many occasions the oriental values
could not coexist with Western model of political system. This
has become a real dilemma for us how to make proper adaptation.
I think the need of the hour is how best to insert our values
in the political system that can alone provide political stability
in Nepal and adapt to the technological and structural change
of international system. He also pointed out that part of the
problem with current political impasse lies with geopolitics
of external interests entangled with our issues as well which
needs to be managed properly.
Mr. Ram Karki, member, politbureau,
UCPN (Maoist) said that we have paid tremendous cost for the
political transformation of our society. In Europe too you have
tremendous blood-shed. In Nepal more than 60 percent people
would vote for Marx and Engels. We should talk about Willy Brandt
but should not forget the contribution of Max and Engels in
liberating the oppressed. Hon'ble Johannes Pflug said that Marx
is dead so is Engels. Let's concentrate more on people's welfare
and utilize politics as credible instrument for the positive
transformation of society for democracy, social justice and
German Ambassador to Nepal H. E. Frank
Meyke expressed happiness over the mutual engagement of Nepali
and German politicians in sharing the experiences and also hoped
that Nepalese leaders would be settle the problems and shore
up the nation's strength for reconciliation and democracy.
Ms. Chitralekha Yadav, Former Deputy
Speaker of Parliament and Treasurer of Nepali Congress Party,
Mr. Upendra Yadav, former Deputy Prime minister and Foreign
Minister and the President of Madhesi Jana Adhikar Forum-Nepal,
Mr. Ajay Sharma, Former Nepalese Ambassador to Australia and
member of Foreign Affairs Committee of CPN (Maoist) and Mr.
Rameshwor Ray Yadav, Former Minister of Law and Justice and
Local Development and Senior Vice-President of Madhesi Jana
Adhikar Forum (Democratic) also shared their views with the
delegates. In return, German MPs said that we are here to encourage
Nepali leaders and express solidarity for their national initiative
and commitment to democracy. At the end Head of FES thanked
German Guests, German Embassy staffs and Nepali leaders for
their support and valuable times and invited them to continue
their debate over the dinner. In the informal meetings both
sides talked about Nepal's vision and its potentials for a promising