KATHMANDU, March 23: Amid pressure from fringe political parties, parliament on Wednesday endorsed a bill imposing a three-percent threshold in upcoming parliamentary elections for becoming a national political party.
Adding a new provision to the Bill Related to Political Parties, parliament has made it mandatory to secure a minimum three percent of the total valid votes cast under the Proportional Representation (PR) category and at least one seat under First-Past-The-Post to become a national party.
According to CPN-UML lawmaker Rameshwor Phuyal, who had worked on revising the bill in the State Affairs Committee, the provision doesn’t bar any political party from representation in parliament. However, he further said the government and parliament can provide the facilities of a parliamentary party and other facilities only to the national political parties.
Most lawmakers have said that parties failing to cross the threshold should send their representatives as independent lawmakers. “Any party failing to cross the threshold provision can send representatives to parliament as independent lawmakers,” said Ram Krishna Yadav of NC.
The additional provision only explains the threshold for becoming a national party but hasn’t mentioned anything about the status of a party failing to cross the threshold. Political parties are at odds over whether political parties not meeting the threshold provision under the PR category will be represented in parliament at all.
Only three political parties--Nepali Congress, CPN-UML, CPN (Maoist Center)-- had crossed the now proposed threshold provision in the last election. Another bill, on Election of the House of Representatives, will finalize the fate of political parties not crossing the threshold in the upcoming elections. A draft of the bill is under discussion at the Home Ministry.
Lawmakers from most major political parties had registered amendment proposals demanding a three to five percent threshold for becoming a national political party. Most of them had also demanded state funding for such national parties on the basis of the votes secured in the latest election.
Parliament meeting as a full body had forwarded the bill to the State Affairs Committee a few months ago for revisions to accommodate the amendment proposals.
The 11-member sub-committee under the State Affairs Committee had been unable to endorse the bill due to the dispute over threshold and objections from various fringe parties. Most fringe party members in the committee were against any threshold provision.
The State Affairs Committee (SAC) tabled the bill in the House for endorsement on Wednesday after the sub-committee finalized the draft.
Nepal Workers Peasants Party lawmaker Prem Suwal and CPN (ML) lawmaker Aaindra Sundar Nembang voted against the provision at the sub-committee meeting Wednesday morning.