The Election Code of Conduct, 2022 has come into effect from Wednesday. The Election Commission Nepal (ECN) Tuesday issued a 60-point directive, asking the government, political parties, constitutional bodies and other stakeholders to abide by the election code essential to ensure fair and impartial voting. The country is set for federal and provincial polls on November 20. This is the second election being held to pick the representatives for federal and provincial parliaments after the promulgation of the new constitution in 2015. The new charter has transformed Nepal into a federal, secular and republican state, which marks seismic shift in the political and administrative structures of the country. The federal system has made the people master of their own destiny by devolving powers to the lower rungs of governance. This has enhanced the people’s democratic participation in the decision-making process and development activities, which has direct bearing on their daily life.
The November elections are crucial to consolidate the democratic republic. It strengthens the inclusive democracy and proportional representation of marginalised people and regions. Election is the soul of democracy as it circulates fresh blood into the system by sending the fresh faces to the public offices. However, elections should be held in a fair, free and fearless environment to encourage more and more voters to turn up in the polling centres. The people cannot exercise their voting right if the poll atmosphere is marred by the incidents of violence, intimidation and coercion. The role of money, muscle and mafia must be discouraged to make the voting a true democratic exercise. The election code of conduct aims to dissuade these negative elements and maintain fairness, impartiality and transparency during the election.
The ECN has specified the institutions that are obliged to abide by the poll code. They include federal and provincial governments their ministers, office-bearers of constitutional bodies, political parties and their sister wings, candidates, security agencies, local executives and their members and employees working in three-tier governments. Likewise, election agents and vote counting representatives of political parties and candidates, civil servants, officials of the observation committee and monitors, media institutions and their employees and media persons, private and non-government organisations, and their employees, teachers and staff of schools, colleges and universities and voters and development partner organisations must adhere to the election code.
The poll code forbids any candidate or concerned persons as well as organisations to offer or pledge or receive any gift, prize, donation in the form of cash or goods, and throw a party or participate in feasts. The violent activities such as carrying arms or explosives, threatening anyone or damaging people’s social prestige or boycotting or threatening to boycott someone from the society, abusing economic resources to influence voters and votes are also prohibited for they spoil the election environment. The political parties and their candidates can conduct their poll campaigns peacefully but they must be careful enough that their activities do not undermine the country’s sovereignty, geographical integrity, national unity and dignity, social and religious harmony, according to the election code. In a democracy, every stakeholder has a role to make the election free, fair and participatory. The election is going to be a milestone in setting the political and constitutional course of the country. Therefore, all concerned should respect the election code so that polls are held in a cordial and fair manner.