by Hari Prasad Shrestha 7 November 2019
The two-party domination or duopoly trend has been strongly rooted in politics of majority developed and developing countries. Currently duopoly has been divided into two political philosophies – the hardliner and relatively soft-liner, and the ruling parties seem to be more despotic compared to the oppositions. Parties of such natures, in the United States of America are – Republican Party and Democratic Party, in India – Bharatiya Janta Party and Indian National Congress, in Bangladesh by Awami League and Bangladesh Nationalist Party, in Russia -United Russia and Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) and in Nepal Communist Party of Nepal and Nepali Congress.
There are plenty of reasons why duopolies exist, and they’re not necessarily all sinister, scale is important: there are all sorts of advantages to being big, which leads big parties to get even bigger, gobbling up smaller and essentially dictating the rules of their interest. Smaller-scale idea is cute, but it’s not winning. What’s winning is dominance. Entire system dominated by just a couple of behemoths.
Effects of duopoly
This duopoly system is functioning and serving for the benefit of gain-seeking organizations, two political parties and their industry allies, who are making huge profits: what we together call the political-industrial complex. And this industry has made it very, very hard to play at all if you’re not playing their game.
It is clearly visible that politics has been an industry, the industry is thriving, and that all the tools of conventional business analysis are applicable here. It’s doing what it is designed to do. It is becoming one of the biggest invisible industry in the economy.
Essentially, it divided up an entire industry into two sides. It isn’t just the parties competing, non-political affiliated customers are also competing. It’s that they create influence and captures area of their interests.
The actors of industrial complex want to support financially to only big parties and their candidates. In fact, potential donors had a hard time believing that such a thing as non-partisan political reform even existed. That’s how conditioned they were to be seeing the political system through a two-party lens.
The political industry is much better at generating revenue for itself and creating jobs for itself while treating its voters with disrespect. The level of transparency and legality of revenue generation depends on the level of development of a nation. However, the voters satisfaction with all levels is at historic lows.
To be successful in politics, one must pick one side of the big party, because one cannot win as an independent in the current system, how best one is.
We see any new entrants in our politics as water bubbles, other than the big two parties. They work well together in one area, and that is colluding together, over time, behind the scenes, to create rules and practices that essentially erect barriers to entry, ways to keep out new competition.
Nepal: background and flourishing political industries
After restoration of democracy in 1990, numerous short-term governments of nine months were considered for instability and worsening situation of Nepal. As socio economic transformations ought to be objective of any political system, however it has never been proficient in accomplishing this goal in minimum level.
During last election, people voted in favor of majority government for stability and development and the Communist Party of Nepal formed government of two third majority. But peoples’ expectations turned into frustrations within a year and half of the formation of this government. They blame – no substantial changes or reforms have been noticed for wellbeing and easy-life of general public. Some argue that our political leaders have no proper vision for the country and at the same time, the present political structures are not favorable in bringing socio economic transformations in the country. Other argue that in many other countries, parliamentary system is working satisfactorily, however we distorted general norms of parliamentary system by formulating constitution under consensus, wish of selected leaders and external pressures. Consequently, our distorted system has started to show problematic situation to function smoothly.
In the last seven decades, Nepal has gone through many radical vicissitudes. After dawn of multi-party democracy in 1951, parliamentary election was held in 1959 and Nepali Congress led by B.P. Koirala formed government of two third majority. It could not last for its full tenure. In 1961, King Mahendra overthrew the democratically elected government by introducing absolute monarchy with party less Panchayat system banning all political parties.
It continued for thirty years. In 1990, through people’s movement, multiparty democracy reinstituted, which brought monarchy under constitution and reinstated multi-party democracy. On 1 February 2002 King Gyanendra took political power and suspended the parliament; appointed a government led by himself, and enforced martial law. Again in 2006, the seven-party alliance decided to oppose this step of king and called for a protest movement, which resulted in massive and spontaneous demonstrations and rallies held across Nepal against King Gyanendra’s autocratic rule.
After immense pressure of people, King Gyanendra announced the reinstatement of the House of Representatives and an agreement was made for the monarchy to be abolished and the country to become a federal republic with the Prime Minister becoming head of the state. A federal republic was established in 2008. Thereafter, constituent assembly elections were held, which promulgated new constitution of Nepal in 2015.
Even after reinstatement of multi-party democracy in 1990, abolition of monarchy in 2008 and promulgation of constitution in 2015, our political system was not properly functioning as we have wrong perception of politics as a public institution.
During monarchy, the king was the sole source of power and there was no question of competitiveness. In multi-party system, the competition exists between couple of actors. And these actors are — at the core of it is what we call it duopoly of Nepali Congress and Communist Party of Nepal.
Currently, the country reached in such a grave condition as it can’t move forward and backward and turning from status quo means bringing unfortunate accidents. However, the political industries are flourishing rapidly capturing pockets of power by destroying and monopolizing vital areas of the state.
Even after thirty years of multiparty system in Nepal, majority people are facing severe scarcity for their livelihood and poverty has forced millions of youths to go abroad. Rule of law is deteriorating day by day and the nation always been in bottom of world economy. However, only the political industry is capturing all important sectors of the nation.
Our contractors, transporters, businessperson, manpower agents, NGOs, real estate, and financial services; also, labor unions, media and lobbyists are true its customers and wealthiest stakeholders.
As the political industry is flourishing in Nepal by braking system and sub systems of the state, any important positions of the state possibly be procured whether it is member of parliament or ambassador.
Interestingly, the government cannot reform laws and regulations which are against interest of its customers. There are long lists of agendas, where government backtracked from its promises under their pressures. Moreover, both the parties would made legislations under consensus which would be favorable to both and to be always above the law as unindictable authority, whether they do right or wrong.
Now, it is not hidden from the media in Nepal that the federalism, secularism and republic agendas were not agenda of constituent assembly and people’s movement of 1990, these were included surprisingly only before the promulgation of the constitution of 2015 through external pressures.
Besides, many provisions of the constitution and the laws have given exceptional powers to the selected authorities and the government, their status seem above the laws like position of king in the monarchy. Only for small examples, the provision of 40% proportional electoral system in the House of Representative and giving immunity to the policy decision of the cabinet, investigating from the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority have given unusual power to select member of house of representatives and freedom for corruption. Such extraordinary powers have been big armor for the political industries as well and to be in power for long term