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jkelleher

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I'm quite surprised to see that no-one has commented on the rather alarming ballot-count in the Nepalese Constituent Assembly election thus far... or on what it might mean for King Gyanendra.  Granted, there's been scarcely a word about this in the major Western media outlets [which, I've discovered, are appreciably worse than useless at reporting the ongoing self-immolation of Nepal...], but the most recent tallies can be found at these sites:

http://www.peoplesreview.com.np/
http://www.nepalitimes.com/issue/395/
http://www.nepalnews.com/election/vote.php
http://www.kantipuronline.com/kolnews.php?&nid=143668

Three of these reports are rather frustratingly broken down district-by-district, but the graphs at the "Peoples Review" site [a conservative media outlet, despite the name....] do a good job of showing what an astounding landslide the Maoists [ex-rebels, still-terrorists] have been handed.

So far, this news has been greeted with a baffling level of acquiescence by the international community; see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7341944.stm
for Jimmy Carter's characteristically asinine remarks on the affair.  The usual hordes of condescending Euro-lefties are already cooing about how Nepal has "set an example for the world", how the people of Nepal voted for "change" and "inclusiveness", and about how "everyone stands to benefit except for the King and reactionary right".  All rather overly sanguine, one might think, considering the eminently-predictable reports of polling-station violence and interference by Maoist cadres, as well as reports (see http://www.nepalitimes.com/issue/395/Nation/14690) of the laughably sub-par monitoring job performed by the 60,000-strong team of international observers.

Nevertheless, as tempting as it might be to do so, it would almost certainly be overly facile to dismiss these results entirely as the result of arm-twisting by the YCL [Young Communist League - the student wing of the Maoist Party, who have become Prachanda's shock-troops ever since the "official" end of the Maoists' armed revolt in 2006].  The reality is that the mainstream political parties have compromised their own integrity so much over the past decade-and-half, that huge numbers of Nepalese seem willing to hand an overwhelming mandate to a bunch of violent political mavericks, rather than allow power to fall back into the hands of the same old clique of party hacks. 

Long-time party bigwigs like Sushil Koirala [acting President of the NC] and Madhav Kumar Nepal [Secretary-General of the CPN-UML] have even been defeated in their own districts, effectively ending their parliamentary careers.  One must recall that the mainstream political parties spent the 1990's toadying to the Palace and squabbling over political office, allowed a (initially) minor revolt to spread like wildfire through sheer incompetence and heavy-handed stupidity, and were finally ejected by the King after the domestic situation had become untenable.  Thus humiliated, the seven major center-left parties reached an accord [brokered by Delhi] with an internationally-recognized terrorist movement to topple the King's government from the streets....... with the net result being that they have now maneuvered themselves straight out of power, and virtually out of existence.  Their adoption of republicanism ultimately gained them nothing at the ballot-box, and only served to muddle their own independent platforms.

The upshot to all of this for Gyanendra?  As strange as it may seem, this catastrophe just might turn out to be King Gyanendra's deus ex machina.  Outlandish?  Yes, but consider the developing scenario.  The Maoists are being handed, not just a simple majority, but an *outright* majority and the effective ability to steam-roller even the runner-up parties.  If the current numbers hold, the Maoists will essentially be able to draft Nepal's new constitution themselves, with no (or only token) input from the other parties.  The long-time heavyweights [NC and CPN-UML] are faced with not just political impotence, but political oblivion.  Delhi, which seems to have naively expected the Nepalese to re-elect the incumbent NC Party (which is practically a sister-party to the ruling Indian party, Congress-(I)) is now faced with the likelihood of a violent, extremist, rabidly nationalistic regime on its northern border.

Put bluntly, the mainstream parties are now in the same boat as the King, and India is perhaps beginning to realize how badly it miscalculated when it brokered the 12-point agreement between the Maoist rebels and the Seven-Party Alliance in December 2005.  The NC and CPN-UML cannot, and I can assure you, *will* not, accept political evisceration at the hands of the Maoists, and several defeated incumbents from these parties are already demanding re-polling in their districts, on the grounds of Maoist intimidation & violence.  They will, I am certain, do anything in their power to prevent the Constituent Assembly from convening with an overwhelming Maoist majority.

Therein will lie the King's saving grace.  The third amendment to Nepal's interim constitution explicitly states that the pending abolition of the monarchy must be ratified by the first sitting of the CA.  This must happen before any work on Nepal's new permanent, republican [and, under present circumstance, Maoist-dictated] constitution can commence.  If the mainstream parties have any desire to save themselves, they will boycott the first session of the CA pending resolution of their complaints of Maoist/YCL intimidation, precluding a quorum and postponing any binding decision on monarchy vs. republic.

The Maoists will of course resist this move with their customary level of violence - Maoist heavyweights Prachanda and Baburam Bhattarai even declared ahead of the election that they would "capture the state within ten minutes" if any attempt was made to "conspire" against the victory they expected to be given.  The recommencement of armed conflict is inevitable - it was thoroughly naive of anyone to expect a Naxalite-inspired movement such as the Maoists to be peacefully integrated into a multiparty democracy.  This ultimately will drive the mainstream parties into the arms of the consistently pro-Palace Nepalese Army, which has already indicated its displeasure at the proposed large-scale integration of Maoist fighters into its ranks.

If this debacle has taught the NC and CPN-UML anything, it is that their professed new-found "republicanism" convinced no-one in Nepal's electorate.  At this point, they frankly have nothing left to lose by throwing themselves once again into the camp of Army and Palace.  The notoriously divisive Seven-Party Alliance required the person of the King as a focal-point of temporary unity, even if he was only something for them to oppose at the time.  Ironically, the King is the now the only possible point of unity around which these same parties can coalesce, unless they want to be cannibalized one-by-one by the Maoists.  India and the USA will, one would expect, be willing to countenance virtually any option for retaining a moderate government in Kathmandu at this point.  By now, Washington & Delhi must have realized that any republican Nepal will, inevitably, be Maoist - an eventuality which neither can find palatable.

On a side note, I couldn't help noticing that King Gyanendra seemed bafflingly smug in the days and weeks leading up the CA election.  I, and many others, couldn't help wondering what he might have up his sleeve.  Perhaps he had simply figured all of this out months ago, and realized that the coming maelstrom could only re-invent his political relevance and indispensability.

For monarchists, this may be the best that we can hope for as well.......

--- John K.
royalcello

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Reply with quote  #2 
Thanks for that thoughtful and informative post.  I certainly hope your theory proves correct!



TheRoyalist

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Reply with quote  #3 
These lefties prefer the proletarian dictatorship that will follow instead of a Monarchy,they are clueless,yet i think the King has a lot of fault at this

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'I see no reason that we should celebrate men who were traitors to their God and their King.'
-Jovan-Marya Weismiller

"I don't give a damn if you belittle republican democracy, profit at expense of the nation, or deceive the people. But i wont allow you to soil the Kaiser's dignity with your filthy, feces filled tongue.
I've neither served nor rebelled against a Kaiser who would be insulted by the likes of you!."
-Oskar von Reuental
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Reply with quote  #4 

I think the only certain thing is that the violence will continue, sadly.



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Reply with quote  #5 
Yes it is a sad situation that Nepal now finds itself in.
 
Hopefully the Nepalese people will now wake up to what is going to happen to them under the communists and will once again embrace their King.
jkelleher

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Reply with quote  #6 
The King has just released a new press release [the 2nd within the past 4 days for him, a notable break from his accustomed low profile these days!] to mark the Nepali New Year.  The story is here:
http://telegraphnepal.com/news_det.php?news_id=3254
Interestingly, Gyanendra praises the people of Nepal, both for their high turnout and for the "nationalistic" aspect of their vote, a clear reference to voters' rejection of Nepal's traditionally Indian-aligned mainstream parties.  It seems that the King [a veteran poker-player, if the rumors are to be believed!] is hedging his bets.  His recent smugness seems, if anything, to have increased in light of the Maoists' poll victory.

And speaking of smugness, I was quite pleased to see that longtime NC Party heavyweight and current Home Minister Krishna Prasad Sitaula has just joined the ever-expanding list of party incumbents to be defeated in their own constituency:
http://www.nepalnews.com/archive/2008/apr/apr13/news13.php
Sitaula was the de facto leader of the Nepali Congress Party's "left-wing", and was instrumental in bringing about the rapprochement of his party with the Maoists in December 2005.  He was notoriously pro-Maoist, and the principal planks of his policy as Home Minister in the interim cabinet seem to have been:
a.) consistently stone-walling any action by the police to rein-in the hooliganism of the YCL [Young Communist League].
b.) blaming the Palace and "feudal reactionaries" for every outbreak of violence that occurred on his watch.
Of course, the Maoists have never been known for gratitude - poor K.P. has just been annihilated in his own district by a Maoist challenger.  It will be quite a privilege to see him go, even if it means one more unwashed Maoist cadre in the CA!

I honestly see no probability of the defeated incumbent parties [NC and CPN-UML] making amends with the Maoists, as TheRoyalist suggests.  Granted, it is certainly possible, but the "war of words" between the main establishment parties and the Maoists in the months leading up to the CA elections had grown so acrimonious as to effectively burn all bridges between the two blocs.  The Maoists had repeatedly pushed for an electoral alliance with the CPN-UML [who are, at least in name, their fellow-Communists], but CPN-UML General-Secretary MK Nepal practically spat in the Maoists' face in response.  No-one in the mainstream parties expected the Maoists to fare even remotely as well as they have - the accepted wisdom was that the Maoists' incessant brinkmanship in the interim parliament was a dilatory tactic to postpone their presumed inevitable defeat in the CA polls.

Instead, the polar opposite has turned out to be the case - the Maoists are being handed a landslide and MK Nepal himself has been defeated in his own district, to be joined by other CPN-UML heavyweights like Pradeep Nepal [Minister of Education, and a kinsman of MK], and KP Sharma Oli [former deputy Prime Minister].  This has left an extremely bitter taste in the mouth of the CPN-UML, who have always viewed themselves as the "established" Communist Party in Nepalese politics and have viewed the Maoists as maverick upstarts:
http://www.telegraphnepal.com/news_det.php?news_id=3256

The Nepali Congress [the PM's party, and the unofficial "big brother" of Nepal's political parties] has seen a comparable decimation of its party hierarchy in the polls.  Prime Minister GP Koirala's hopes to perpetuate the dynastic tradition of his party (in true South-Asian style!) have been dashed dramatically.  His own home-district has been swamped by Maoist victory, his cousin [and NC acting President] Sushil Koirala has been defeated in his home constituency as well, and GP's daughter Sujata Koirala-Jost is being trounced in her own district by MPRF chairman Upendra Yadav:
http://story.nepalnational.com/index.php/ct/9/cid/7399985502eaed63/id/348076/cs/1/
Koirala himself invited a good deal of criticism for his unilateral promotion of his daughter to the position of Minister-without-Portfolio, especially as Sujata is widely seen as cozy with the Delhi establishment and her well-known pro-Palace sympathies made her notoriously unpopular with Sitaula et al

Sujata herself is actively calling for a re-do of the polling in her district, alleging that she and her activists were repeatedly threatened and brutalized by Yadav and his goons.  Her complaint is amply substantiated - in the weeks leading up to the election Yadav even bragged that his men would never allow Sujata to campaign at all in her own district, and his cadres drove Sujata and her followers away from the polling booths on election day.  This has the potential to become an extremely heated, long-drawn-out dispute - Sujata has her own connections [in both Kathmandu and Delhi] who would prefer to see her triumph, and Yadav is the leader of the largest of the Terai activist parties and is likely to fight tooth-and-nail for his seat in the CA.  If any one single dispute has the potential to postpone the convening of the CA, this could be it.

Koirala, having already settled his grudge with the King, may even be inclined to empathize with him now that he has seen his own dynastic hopes so cruelly dashed to the ground.  He has very little incentive to keep his party in the government once the Maoist-dominated assembly convenes, and the CPN-UML seems to have already come to the same conclusion:
http://www.nepalnational.com/index.php/ct/9/cid/7399985502eaed63/id/348220/cs/1/
It is important to note here that although all of the major parties incorporated "republicanism" into their manifestos, their own proposals for a Nepali Republic differ widely, varying between federalist and unitary states as well as between presidential and parliamentary republics.  A decent summary of the varying proposals can be found here:
http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0803/S00451.htm
...with the party platforms summarized in the latter half of the article.  The principal mainstream parties [NC & CPN-UML] both had notably similar proposals for a federal parliamentary republic with a figurehead president [or "surrogate constitutional monarch", as I call it!].

The Maoists, however, have demanded a presidential republic with a directly-elected President holding all executive power.  Maoist supremo Prachanda has already dubbed himself "Nepal's first president", and has intimated that he intends to hold this office for a matter of decades, rather than years!  Some of the lesser left-wing parties support similar presidential republics, including the Communist offshoot parties NWPP and Janamorcha Nepal as well as Upendra Yadav's MPRF.  Yet the NWPP and JN almost always act in tandem with their "big-brother" party, the CPN-UML, and their own dismal showing in the polls [with the NWPP so far bagging 2 districts, the JN 1] would lead one to suspect that they will follow the CPN-UML should that party elect to walk out of the government.

This would leave Yadav's MPRF [and, potentially, some of the smaller Terai-based parties] as the likely junior partner in the coming Maoist-dominated government.  Indeed, this is quite nearly the *only* possible combination that the Maoists are likely to make, notwithstanding the history of bad blood between the respective cadres of the two parties [Maoist & MPRF activists have a rather unsavory track-record of literally ripping eachother to pieces!].  From a purely pragmatic standpoint, too, this would be the most intelligent alliance for Prachanda to make, at least for the time being.  The long-simmering separatist movement in the Terai has developed into Nepal's top national security issue, and the district-wide strikes declared by the MPRF and other Terai groups were finally resolved earlier this year, with just *barely* enough time left to prepare for the polls on April 10th! 

The upcoming Maoist-dominated government will have to keep the Terai happy for now, if it wants to maintain the cosmetic appearance of a nation-wide mandate.  In fact, the developing row between Sujata Koirala-Jost and Upendra Yadav may have already helped Nepal's new political alignment to coalesce in this manner - with the Maoists & MPRF on one side, and the mainstream moderates like the NP & CPN-UML on the other.  The catch to this is that whereas all of the major parties have active (and often violent) student wings, the mainstream parties noticeably lack anything resembling the paramilitary shock-troops of the YCL or the People's Liberation Army [the supposedly "dormant" Maoist Army, which has been kept intact in special cantonments at government expense!], or of Yadav's MPRF.  The implications of this are quite simple: if the moderate parties hope to be able to defend themselves, they will need to rekindle their links with the ever-royalist Nepalese Army, which cannot be pleased at the prospect of taking orders from Prachanda!

So far, all of the major parties, including the Maoists, have taken care to cultivate every appearance of democratic piety by making statements of support for the "people's mandate" and "inter-party cooperation".  Indeed, it would be most unwise of the moderate parties to explicitly denounce the election result as of yet, since they themselves staked their own credibility on the successful holding of CA elections on April 10th.  If the moderate parties want to maintain the moral high-ground, they will need to wait for the Maoists to strike the first blow against multilateralism.  Given the Maoists' track-record, I do not expect that we will have long to wait before Prachanda overplays the hand he has been dealt.

This unexpected landslide for the Maoists has completely demolished the prevailing political settlement which has been in place ever since King Gyanendra's climb-down of April 2006, and will lead to a tidal-change in Nepal's political alignments.  The King's "wait-and-watch strategy" of the past 2 years may have finally born fruit, and if he continues to be tactful he potentially stands to gain from the Maoists' drubbing of the newly-chastened moderate parties.  I should point out that I am not the only observer to have reached this conclusion - veteran Nepali conservative blogger Maila Baje just posted a similar analysis in his latest entry:
http://nepalinetbook.blogspot.com/
I highly recommend perusing Maila's blog archives - aside from being a devoted supporter of the King, he is one of the few Nepali political commentators I have found who analyzes current events from a purely dispassionate, geopolitical perspective.

--- John K.

TheRoyalist

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Reply with quote  #7 
We are sadly seeing another destruction of a monarchy by Communists,and Republicans,who is next?,Bhutan?,Morocco?

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"If the king doesn't move, then his subjects won't follow."
-Lelouch vi Britannia

'I see no reason that we should celebrate men who were traitors to their God and their King.'
-Jovan-Marya Weismiller

"I don't give a damn if you belittle republican democracy, profit at expense of the nation, or deceive the people. But i wont allow you to soil the Kaiser's dignity with your filthy, feces filled tongue.
I've neither served nor rebelled against a Kaiser who would be insulted by the likes of you!."
-Oskar von Reuental
Pragmatist

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"The whole world is in revolt. Soon there will be only five Kings left--the King of England, the King of Spades, The King of Clubs, the King of Hearts, and the King of Diamonds." -King Farouk of Egypt 1948

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Reply with quote  #9 
He was optimistic. The last King of England died in 1702.

It would be wrong to post on this thread without paying tribute to the very thoughtful and evidently knowledgeable contributions from jkelleher, which I have read with care. Fingers crossed for the Nepalese monarchy.
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Reply with quote  #10 
Her Majesty is still Queen IN England, though right?

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Pragmatist

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Reply with quote  #11 

The seer Farouk meant that Scotland would one day be a republic. Hopefully he was wrong.


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BaronVonServers

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Reply with quote  #12 
I hope he was wrong on all the rest that won't be monarchies anymore if those truly are the five left...

(I think he was making the common mistake of thinking of the British Monarch as the King/Queen of England....)


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Zuka

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Reply with quote  #13 
It is a shame. Hopefully Georgia and Serbia will pick up the pace.

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BaronVonServers

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Reply with quote  #14 
Perhaps the King will be 'back by popular demand' and (maybe even Indian Support) following the mess the Maoists will make of the place......

(Like Monck inviting HM King Charles II to take up the Crown...)


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jkelleher

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Reply with quote  #15 
The version of the Farouk-quote that I recall reading was slightly different [and more semantically accurate, in light of the 1707 Act of Union....].  Supposedly, King Farouk quipped that there would be "only five royal houses left - Hearts, Diamonds, Clubs, Spades...... and Windsors."
A classic wisecrack, and one of the many reasons why I still harbor some warm feelings for the poor fellow!

--- John K.
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