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Nepal's Election: A Peaceful Revolution? International Crisis Group 2008-07-03

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Asia Report N°155 - 3 July 2008
Crisis Group
A. The Maoist Machine 2
B. The Stuttering Challenge 3
C. The Madhesis Parties: Motivation Amid Mutual Suspicion 4
D. The Legacy of Conflict 5
B. The Vote Itself 7
C. Did Voters Know What They Were Doing? 8
D. Repolling 9
A. The Atmosphere 9
B. Disruption, Intimidation and Cheating 10
D. Much Moaning, Few Formal Complapnts 12
E. What Can Be Concluded? 12
1. The count 13
2. Notable features 14
3. A new look assembly 15
4. The PR seat distribution 16
B. Why Did the Maoists Win? 16
C. Why Did We (Almost) All Get It Wrong? 18
A. Map of Nepal 21
B. Glossary of Acronyms 22
C. An Overview of the Election Results 23
D. About the International Crisis Group 24
E. Crisis Group Reports and Briefings on Asia 25
F. Crisis Group Board of Trustees 27
 Crisis Group
Asia Report N°155
3 July 2008
Nepal's constituent assembly (CA) elections marked a
major step forward in the peace process, paving the
way for the declaration of a federal democratic republic and the start of the constitution-writing process.
Although falling short of an outright majority, the
Maoists won a decisive victory at the 10 April 2008
polls, securing a mandate for peace and change. However, the largely peaceful and well-managed vote
opened a messy new round of political haggling and
obstruction. The Maoists have been unable to secure
agreement on a new coalition government. Other parties, still struggling to accept their defeat, have set new
conditions for supporting a Maoist-led administration.
The elections delivered a clear and, to many, surprising result. The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist,
CPN(M)), emerged as the largest party by a wide
margin, winning more than one-third of CA seats.
The largest established parties, the Nepali Congress
(NC) and Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist, UML), were not wiped out but have had
difficulty coping with their relatively weak showing -
their combined seats are less than those of the Maoists. The NC was particularly hard hit by the strong
performance of new Madhesi parties, among which
the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) has secured a
dominant position. Royalist parties failed to win a
single first-past-the-post (FPTP) seat, only saving a
toehold in the new assembly through the parallel proportional representation (PR) contest.
Party campaigning built the atmosphere for a lively
and passionate contest. Long-suffering and politically
sophisticated voters proved a testing audience, keen to
hear what candidates had to say for themselves but
well prepared to exercise their own judgement. It was
not the cleanest of campaigns. The established parties
resorted to old tricks to steal a march on their opponents. The Maoists, and to a lesser extent the MJF,
distinguished themselves primarily by outdoing their
more experienced rivals at their own game. The
CPN(M) did use intimidation and coercion but also
exercised great restraint in the face of the possibly
calculated killing of fifteen of its activists. At the
same time it demonstrated formidable organisation
and motivation - qualities which were deservedly reflected in its victory.
The vote itself and the complex parallel count went
remarkably smoothly, with complete results (including repolling) ready within fifteen days. Still, final results, including the approved lists of parties' selections to fill PR seats, were published only on 8 May,
almost a month after the election. Five by-elections,
for seats resigned by individuals who won FPTP contests from two constituencies, will probably be held
only in September. One declared FPTP result has
been suspended by court order following an appeal by
the (narrow) loser. The 26 individuals nominated by
the cabinet, who will complete the complement of
601 CA members, have yet to be decided thanks to
the elusiveness ofthe required inter-party "consensus".
Whatever the broad political breakdown, the CA is a
remarkably inclusive body, far more representative of
Nepal's caste, ethnic, religious and regional diversity
than any past parliament. One third of its members are
women, catapulting the country into regional leadership on gender representation. Thanks largely to the
PR component, no fewer than 25 parties have secured
CA seats, reflecting a kaleidoscope of ideological and
regional or community-specific agendas. The MJF
proved that it was more than just a brand name for a
vague sense of Madhesi grievance but a viable political
machine able to mobilise votes and put identity politics
on the map - probably for the foreseeable future.
The Maoist victory was not unsullied. The CPN(M)
engaged in orchestrated strong-arm tactics, generally
facing down other parties, which embraced similar
means. Some resounding constituency results would
have embarrassed the more modest political bosses
who engineer realistic-looking margins of victory.
Nevertheless, its strong showing was not manufactured. Voters were willing to give credit for its struggle and sacrifice, recognising that the Maoists were
the architects of the federal republican agenda. They
struck a chord with popular aspirations that the old
parties had not even woken up to. In this, as in their
more dubious techniques, they made full use of the
 Nepal's Election: A Peaceful Revolution?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°155, 3 July 2008
Page ii
fact that they had stayed in close touch with ordinary
people and not lost their heads in Kathmandu politicking. Meanwhile, their convincing victories in many
urban constituencies - the CPN(M) emerged the clear
winner in the greater Kathmandu area -demonstrated
that they did not profit solely by preying on vulnerable
rural voters beyond the eyes of observers.
All in all, the elections were credible and a credit to
those who organised, fought and voted in them. Although some disruption and intimidation took place, it
was far less than predicted. Voters were offered a
genuine political debate and real choices. In return,
they took their responsibilities seriously and turned
out in large numbers to have their say. For all the losers' public petulance, very few collected evidence to
file formal complaints. What remains is for the politi
cal elite to digest the message that Nepal's citizens
have at last been allowed to send them.
This report describes the campaign and vote, assesses
the credibility ofthe election and analyses the results.
A companion policy report published simultaneously
surveys the new political landscape and examines the
remaining transitional challenges. The CA has to deliver a functioning government, act as a legislature and
also write a new constitution. Each of these would be
a tough task in its own right; managing all simultaneously while seeing the peace process through to a stable conclusion will require further commitment and
Kathmandu/Brussels, 3 July 2008
Crisis Group
Asia Report N°155
3 July 2008
Nepal's constituent assembly (CA) elections went
ahead as planned on 10 April 2008, despite two postponements, armed groups' threats of disruption and
often questionable political will.1 The Maoists emerged
as the largest party by a clear margin, although commanding only just over one third ofthe CA seats. The
campaign period, the vote itself and the counting proceeded far more smoothly than most observers had
predicted; the Maoist victory also upset most predictions. But the post-election period was, as expected,
less straightforward. While the CA convened for its
first sitting on 28 May, nearly three months after the
election, a new government is still not in place, and
bitter haggling over power sharing continues.
This report offers an assessment ofthe election, from
the latter days of the campaign to the completion of
the count.2 It analyses the results, their notable features
and the reasons behind them. A companion policy report surveys the new political landscape and examines
the remaining transitional challenges.3
1 On the pre-election period and the constitutional and legal
provisions governing the elections and the transition, see
Crisis Group Asia Report N°149, Nepal's Election and Beyond, 2 April 2008. Other recent Crisis Group reporting includes Asia Briefings N°72, Nepal: Peace Postponed, 18
December 2007; and N°68, Nepal's Fragile Peace Process,
28 September 2007; and Asia Reports N°136, Nepal's Troubled Tarai Region, 9 July 2007; N°132, Nepal's Maoists:
Purists or Pragmatists?, 18 May 2007; and N°128, Nepal's
Constitutional Process, 26 February 2007. Full Nepali translations of all these papers are available at www.crisisgroup.
2 During the election campaign period and the first week of
vote counting, Crisis Group visited 40 of Nepal's 75 districts,
interviewing hundreds of party workers and leaders, election
officials, administrative and security officials, journalists and
analysts, civil society members and ordinary voters. Crisis
Group was registered as an international election observer
and expresses its appreciation to the Election Commission of
Nepal, Chief Election Commissioner Bhoj Raj Pokharel, his
colleagues and all related government officials for their cooperation and unhindered access to polling officers, stations
and counting centres. Crisis Group's work was facilitated by
the full cooperation of all parties. Notwithstanding the critical analysis in this report, Crisis Group was impressed by the
commitment of all officials, political actors and citizens to
making the elections a success.
Crisis Group Asia Report N°156, Nepal's New Political
Landscape, 3 July 2008.
 Nepal's Election: A Peaceful Revolution?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°155, 3 July 2008
Page 2
The election campaign was vigorous, enthusiastic and
hotly competitive; it was also marred by irregularities
and violence, most notably the killing of many Maoist
activists. Public enthusiasm for the process was palpable, especially as the date drew closer and the prospect of the polls grew more real. Dozens of parties
were on the campaign trail, with the atmosphere boosted
by lively media interest. Interest focused on the first-
past-the-post (FPTP) races, which came to be referred
to in Nepali simply as the "direct" election. The traditional and best understood electoral format, it also
lent itself far more to intense, locally driven clashes
between named and known individuals. The shape of
the campaign was similar to that of previous elections, with all parties using the same well-rehearsed
techniques to take their message to the people and
drum up support.
The resort to dubious tactics also reflected past precedents more than the particularities ofthe post-conflict
environment. The campaign's liveliness was somewhat tainted - although sometimes boosted - by misbehaviour. For all their repeated promises, few parties
ever appeared likely to obey the letter of the Code of
Conduct, nor was it likely that the Election Commission (EC) could enforce it fully.4 The campaign was
also marred by some incidents of serious violence, including several killings, and a general atmosphere of
background fear. These are discussed in detail in Section IV below.
that they could return to war in case of an unfavourable result served as an effective threat.5
In all their activities, the Maoists' main strengths were
evident: discipline, motivation and strategic planning.
In most of the 40 districts visited by Crisis Group,
their cadres were more energetic and focused than
those of other parties. This was partly the result of a
clear policy line: they had a much more definite idea
of their agenda than their major rivals.6 But it was
also a triumph of organisational hard work: local activists were trained, well managed and educated in the
party position. "We rely on the people. The UML is
less keen than in November, NC aren't going to the
villages - so how can they win?", explained party
spokesperson Krishna Bahadur Mahara. "The CA is
the completion of a peaceful revolution, not a normal
election. Completing it and establishing a republic is
still a war. It won't happen without struggling hard".7
The Maoists' only serious policy problem during the
campaign was their relations with other parties. Senior leaders had consistently stressed their desire for a
broad "progressive front". In the words ofthe second-
ranking party leader, Baburam Bhattarai, "what if
we've been through all this struggle just for the same
old feudal system to triumph? We need a common
minimum agreement among the parties for progress".8
It appeared they would have been happy to campaign
alongside the NC if it had enthusiastically embraced
change. "Let the NC win, but not the old feudal candidates", commented K.B. Mahara.9 As it became
With hindsight, it is easy to comment that the campaigns foreshadowed the results. The CPN(M)'s electoral machine was formidable. No fresh observer would
have suspected the Maoists' lack of open electoral
experience: in all aspects of traditional campaigning
they adopted and refined the tools of the trade, outshining the other parties. They also made calculated,
sometimes cynical, use oftheir military organisation:
directly, in coordinated efforts to obstruct other parties' campaigns in particular areas (not by the PLA
but using the PLA-trained and led Young Communist
League (YCL)), and indirectly. Repeated warnings
4On the Code of Conduct, see Crisis Group Report, Nepal's
Election and Beyond, op. cit., pp. 6-7, 10, 13.
Speaking in his home district, Gorkha, Baburam Bhattarai
had warned that "if we lose, there will be a new type of revolution". "A new revolution if Maoists lose the election, says
Dr. Bhattarai",, 5 March 2008. Prachanda
voiced similar warnings: "Due to the commitment of the
people to build a new Nepal, I have seen that we are already
victorious. Now, if there is any conspiracy to defeat us, we
will not accept such defeat". "Prachanda says Maoists won't
accept defeat if there is conspiracy",, 27
March 2008.
6 See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Election and Beyond, op.
cit,p. 3.
'Crisis Group interview, Krishna Bahadur Mahara, Kathmandu, 9 March 2008.
8 Baburam Bhattarai, address to election rally, Kirtipur, 12
March 2008. Two days later, Bhattarai expressed greater
frustration: "We're feeling sick about [the NC and UML's]
mindset. After all the sacrifice and the people's movement,
they're back to low politicking". However, he still insisted
that "there has to be a coalition government through the
[post-election] transitional phase. The major parties should
agree on consensual democracy". Crisis Group interview,
Kathmandu, 14 March 2008.
9 Crisis Group interview, Krishna Bahadur Mahara, Kathmandu, 9 March 2008.
 Nepal's Election: A Peaceful Revolution?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°155, 3 July 2008
Page 3
clear that the only realistic alliance could be with
other leftists, primarily the UML, Maoist frustration
with that party's refusal to play ball erupted in public.
Speaking at a meeting to launch Maoist leader Prachanda's campaign in his Kathmandu constituency, Bhattarai voiced this disappointment: "Let's compete by
all means but why can't we have a basic consensus on
the main issues?....It's sad that even republicans and
leftists couldn't unite - of course we're sad about
that".10 Prachanda himself warned that "without unity
I see a very bad situation emerging - outside forces
and others are conspiring to disrupt the elections and
undermine our sovereignty".11 Ironically, the failure to
form an alliance strongly benefited the Maoists, who
crushed the UML in the FPTP contests.
Although one constituent of the CPN(M), the United
People's Front led by Bhattarai, had competed in the
1991 elections and emerged in third place with nine
parliamentarians (out of 205), this was in effect the
Maoists' first real electoral battle. Their view that it
was a continuation of war by other means - publicly
expressed and internally institutionalised - made
sense. This did not mean that they saw it as a test of
armed force (although they did resort to some militaristic means, described below), but that it required the
same commitment to strategy and tactics as had their
insurgency. They calibrated their "mass line" politics
to the demands of a national election with the mix of
strategic firmness and tactical flexibility with which
they had pursued the armed conflict. Above all, they
demonstrated their ability to learn and adapt.
B. The Stuttering Challenge
For their opponents, the picture was more mixed. The
NC and UML had not lost their vast national networks, nor were they actively stalling the progress
towards elections. They went through the formalities
of campaigning with the ease that their years of practice afforded them. But many oftheir activists seemed
demoralised and poorly motivated, while some may
have been actively working for their opponents.
The NC in particular was harmed by its unclear policy
stance and unhealed divisions. Its decision to adopt a
republican line was deeply unpopular with a large section of senior leaders and some local activists. Many of
them, including the prime minister's daughter, waged
an acrimonious public campaign against their own
Baburam Bhattarai, address to election rally, Kirtipur, 12
March 2008.
1: Prachanda, address to election rally, JKirtipur, 12 March 2008.
party policy throughout the campaign. Others were
happy to express their disappointment in the party
leadership: "The government is useless. There is no
government", lamented former NC Home Minister
Govinda Raj Joshi.12
The distribution of candidate "tickets" within the
party revealed the depths of continuing rifts between
the members ofthe mother party and the former splinter, the NC(D), which had supposedly reunited in
September 2007. The two factions of the party devoted much time and energy to haggling over seat allocations, eventually agreeing a 60:40 division.13
Ironically, many of the senior individuals humiliated
by not being offered the chance to stand for FPTP
seats later realised how lucky they were to have
avoided the FPTP slaughter and to have slipped in on
the proportional representation (PR) list, which they
had earlier seen as ignominious.
The UML faced similar problems in accommodating
its established leaders, suffering some resignations
from office bearers unhappy at perceived slights.14 It
did not face a debilitating factional split but had to
cope with serious differences over relations with the
Maoists. Some argued in favour of a broad leftist alliance, or at least a concrete seat-sharing deal; the winners of the argument were those who argued instead
to stick closer to the NC, as a fellow mainstream
party, and fight the Maoists head-on. This decision
pleased foreign governments and some activists on
the ground. Most leaders only realised after the elections how badly they had miscalculated. Two days before the poll, one UML minister still argued that the
Maoists had shot themselves in the foot: "We offered
to let four or five of their leaders through unopposed,
but they called it a conspiracy and refused".15 The NC
was also convinced the UML was their main rival and
Crisis Group interview, Damauli, 8 April 2008.
13 At the end of January, when the Maoists' preparations
were well underway, senior NC leaders were still busy running round the country trying to negotiate truces between the
two halves of the party and appoint party officials below the
district president level. Crisis Group interview, Prakash Sharan Mahat, Biratnagar, 24 January 2008.
14 Pre-poll arguments over the PR lists and post-poll disputes
over the selection of winning candidates led to many resignations. See Section V.A(4).
15 Crisis Group interview, Prithvi Subba Gurung, Lamjung, 8
April 2008. Minister Gurung did manage to win his own
seat, Lamjung-2, so his comments could have been coloured
by his party's strength in his constituency, where the main
battle was with the NC. The Maoists were more active in
Lamjung-1, to the east ofthe Marsyangdi River, a seat they
won. Crisis Group interviews, UML and NC activists, Besi-
sahar, 8 April 2008.
 Nepal's Election: A Peaceful Revolution?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°155, 3 July 2008
Page 4
in many districts encouraged voters to vote for the
CPN(M) if they wanted a "real" leftist party - a
tactic that backfired and may have further weakened the UML.
The Maoists benefited from their novelty value - for
many voters the chance to see their leaders was a
draw - and from their large pool of passionate and
persuasive speakers. The NC and UML suffered from
parallel weaknesses: most of their prominent campaigners were well-known faces that the public had
grown tired of16 While Prachanda and top Maoists
travelled almost constantly, NC President G.P. Koirala
did not visit a single constituency on campaign business or address a mass meeting.17 Acting President
Sushil Koirala was largely confined to his own constituency, as he fought a losing battle to save his seat.
The NC's biggest crowd pullers were the charismatic
student leader Gagan Thapa and popular speaker
Pradip Giri; Shankar Pokharel emerged as one of the
UML's most effective performers. However, the fact
that these individuals did not rank high in their party
hierarchies undermined their individual efforts.
Where the Maoists were tireless in pamphleting and
door-to-door canvassing, the NC and UML appeared
less keen to meet the people. It was partly that they
were just too late: the NC's campaign did not kick off
until the third week of March (and even then many
party officials remained sceptical that the election
would take place), while the UML held back because
it was (falsely) confident of its mass base and did not
want to lose face ifthe elections were postponed once
it had launched its campaign, as had nearly been the
case for the earlier scheduled November 2007 date.
When the party finally got started, its cadres were
poorly motivated. As some villagers observed, while
the Maoists worked all day on a diet of fruit squash
and beaten rice, the NC and UML cadres would not
move until they were fed with meat and rice.18 When
candidates and leaders did try to revive their connection with voters, they often found themselves faced
with tricky questions about their past performance
and future agenda.
C. The Madhesis Parties: Motivation
Amid Mutual Suspicion
By the time the campaign kicked off, the wind of
change in the Madhes was clear to all - although perhaps not clear enough to the established parties. Although the leaders of the Madhesi movement had
agreed to a slightly nebulous compromise deal following their February 2008 agitation,19 they had solidified a widespread sentiment that only new leadership would force Kathmandu to address Madhesi
issues. Still, it was unclear which parties would benefit the most from this heightened awareness.
The Madhes Janadhikar Forum (MJF) had spearheaded the first Madhesi movement in early 2007 and
had built a powerful brand name. However, its organisational capacity was widely questioned, as were the
changeable policies of its mercurial chief, Upendra
Yadav, who thrived on his skill of being all things to
all people. The newly established Tarai-Madhes Democratic Party (TMDP) was launched in December
2007 by senior NC leader Mahant Thakur as a more
moderate, "establishment" front, but it had little time
to put down roots despite apparent assistance from
New Delhi. The NSP faction led by Rajendra Mahato,
the outcome of a long series of splits and disagreements, offered a perhaps not decisive enough break
from the mother party, which many Madhesis felt had
achieved little in its long years of supposedly pushing
regional interests. In the end, the MJF not only turned
its brand into a viable campaign machine but also
proved that its much criticised calculation not to ally
with the TMDP and NSP was right, at least in terms
of its own party fortunes.
The enthusiasm of many Madhesi voters was palpable, both during the campaign and as the counts continued.20 There was no shortage of political experience across the Tarai, which had historically been the
hotbed of Nepali politics, although threats by armed
groups active in the eastern districts had inhibited
voter awareness and party canvassing efforts.21 There
were some communal tinges to the campaign but far
less than at the peak of the Madhesi movement, when
there were widespread threats against hill-origin pahadis in the Tarai. Most leaders were responsible;
In selecting candidates, the NC gave priority to winners
from the 1999 general election, more or less guaranteeing a
large proportion of old faces.
17 This was largely because of his ill health, although he also
claimed that he felt the prime minister and acting head of
state should not engage in party campaigning.
18 Crisis Group interview, villagers, Kabhrepalanchowk, 15
May 2008.
19 The protests started from 19 January 2008, escalated to an
indefinite strike from 13 February and led to an eight-point
agreement on 28 February. See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's
Election and Beyond, op. cit., p. 2.
20 Crisis Group interviews, Banke and Bardiya, 2-3 April
2008; Bara, Parsa, Siraha and Dhanusha, 12-13 April 2008.
21 On the history of political activity in the Tarai, see Crisis
Group Report, Nepal's Troubled Tarai Region, op. cit., pp. 5-6.
 Nepal's Election: A Peaceful Revolution?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°155, 3 July 2008
Page 5
some, such as Mahant Thakur, made dedicated efforts
to rid the Madhesi agenda of wAx-pahadi overtones.
Nevertheless, the hangover of the past violence and
unwillingness to allow the new Madhesi parties an
easy victory probably drove more pahadis towards
the Maoists, whom they saw as likely the strongest
defenders oftheir interests.
The Madhesi parties were also greatly helped by the
NC and UML's decision to put up many unpopular
old pahadi faces in Tarai FPTP seats. Headline clashes,
in particular Upendra Yadav taking on the prime minister's daughter, Sujata Koirala, enlivened the campaign
and boosted interest - as well as leading to much bad
blood and occasional confrontations. The major disappointment of the Madhesi parties' campaign was
their disdain for women, Dalit and minority candidates (see below).
D. The Legacy of Conflict
The elections took place under the shadow ofthe conflict, and in many areas its history shaped relations
between the parties, as well as voters' attitudes. Dhading district, immediately west of Kathmandu, saw
more violence than any other hill district.22 In eighteen pre-election clashes, 82 people were injured, sixteen of them in a March incident, when incumbent
UML parliamentarian Rajendra Prasad Pandey was
campaigning.23 The district headquarters was put under a curfew on 8 April following NC-UML fighting,
and there was also a bomb blast outside a polling station on election day.24
This violence did not erupt randomly. Dhading had
experienced some of the worst brutality of the conflict. More than five dozen of its residents, allegedly
disappeared by the security forces, remain unaccounted
for. Maoist organisers in Jivanpur, who were accused
of a deliberate attack on Rajendra Pandey's campaign
meeting, insisted that the UML itself should take the
blame for the incident:
According to the most comprehensive survey, the 23 violent incidents in Dhading were outnumbered only by the
eastern Tarai districts of Saptari and Sunsari (with 26 and 24
incidents respectively). In terms of pre-election incidents,
Dhading had the worst record in the whole country. "Election and Political Violence in Nepal: Final Report, November 26, 2007 to April 30, 2008", Democracy and Election
Alliance Nepal (DEAN), Kathmandu, 19 June 2008.
23 Ibid, p. 22. DEAN reported that five other incidents in
Dhading involved the UML and Maoists.
24Ibid, p. 37.
Five people were disappeared from this village
alone - by the army but on the instruction of the
UML. The local committee of the families of the
disappeared has simply tried to present a petition to
Rajendra Pandey demanding an investigation into
the fate oftheir relatives. He refused to even speak
to them, and instead the police attacked them without provocation.25
Families of the disappeared confirmed this story (as
did UML supporters who had also fallen victim to the
indiscriminate police beatings), although it was clear
that the CPN(M) was the guiding force behind the petition and had prepared itself for a clash.26 In any case,
these disappearances only took place after the Maoists
had launched their own campaign for political dominance in Dhading by killing some twelve UML village officials and chasing others out of the district.
Rajendra Pandey pointed out that he himself was under arrest during the period of royal rule, when the
army abducted suspected Maoist cadres, so could
hardly be accused of orchestrating disappearances. He
observed: "Some form of peace may be restored, but
the social fabric has been so badly torn during the
conflict that we will never see a return to true peace
and harmony".27
Other patterns of campaign violence were also coloured by deep-seated antipathies dating back to the
early years ofthe conflict. In Tanahun district, hardline former NC Home Minister Govinda Raj Joshi
complained of systematic assaults by Maoist cadres
on his party workers.28 His opponent, senior CPN(M)
leader Suresh Ale Magar, did not deny responsibility
for some incidents:
Our party line is retaliation, so we will not be
Gandhis and just turn the other cheek. But at the
same time we will not initiate any violence. In the
neighbouring constituency, we've run a perfectly
peaceful campaign against [NC Peace and Reconstruction minister] Ramchandra Poudel, because
he himself has good political culture and has
played by the rules. But here we've had to respond
to the NC's deliberate use of hired thugs, who
have been brought in from outside the district to
try to steal the election by force.29
Crisis Group interview, local CPN(M) official, Jivanpur,
27 March 2008.
26 Crisis Group interviews, Jivanpur, 27 March 2008.
27 Crisis Group interview, Rajendra Prasad Pandey and campaign team, Malekhu, 9 April 2008.
28 Crisis Group interview, Damauli, 8 April 2008.
29 Crisis Group interview, Tanahun, 8 April 2008.
 Nepal's Election: A Peaceful Revolution?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°155, 3 July 2008
Page 6
The many clashes in Dhading and Tanahun offer no
black and white picture of guilty and innocent parties.
They do, however, illustrate the corrosive effect of
years of armed conflict, unresolved grievances and tit-
for-tat retaliation. Under such circumstances, it is
hardly surprising that competition was sometimes bitter. It is perhaps more remarkable that the painful legacy of conflict did not prompt a greater number of
violent incidents.
A. The Technical Management
The Election Commission (EC) proved itself to be
well organised and well motivated.30 Polling stations
were generally well managed and election staff (EC
employees, civil servants on secondment, volunteer
educators and security personnel) performed their duties enthusiastically.31 Election officials appeared well
briefed and generally confident in their dealings with
local party candidates and workers throughout the
campaign period. They often admitted, however, that
the election Code of Conduct was overambitious and
that they received limited complaints about the more
egregious violations. Some district election officers
did insist on parties removing outlawed graffiti and
held them to the ban on campaign tactics such as motorcycle rallies, but most were more lenient.32
Despite the serious logistical challenges, all necessary
materials reached the nearly 10,000 polling locations
on time.33 Sensitive materials, primarily the ballot papers themselves, were transported and stored under
effective security guard. Election officials appeared
well briefed. The training of temporary staff, mostly
central and local government officials, was systematic
and generally well managed.34 The electoral roll
caused some difficulties: in some polling stations it
took voters a long time to identify themselves, while
others complained that their names had been omitted
even though they had participated in previous elections. Lax identification procedures also made it easier for illegal proxy votes to be cast in the names of
Crisis Group interviewed election officials in twenty
31 In several locations, Crisis Group visited election offices
well outside normal office hours to find them fully staffed
with officials of all levels working against the clock to complete preparations on time. Similarly, many counting stations
operated round the clock on a shift-work basis.
32 Crisis Group witnessed minor infringements of the Code
of Conduct in every district visited during the campaign period. Most common was graffiti (although some District
Election Officers (DEOs), such as those in Baglung, Myagdi
and Syangja, had persuaded the parties to keep district headquarters relatively free of wall-painting or to remove earlier
graffiti). Most DEOs reported that they had urged parties
many times to abide by the rules, but earnest vows to cooperate had rarely translated into action. Crisis Group interviews, various districts, March-April 2008.
33 There were 20,866 polling booths in 9,788 centres. See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Election and Beyond, op. cit., p. 8.
34 Crisis Group observed training sessions for polling officers
in various districts, from Dolakha to Palpa.
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others. Nevertheless, such complaints appear to have
been fewer than in past elections.
Security arrangements for the vote were in line with
plans and generally low key. The relatively small
number of police available for each location did,
however, mean that they were often outnumbered by
party agents and vulnerable to pressure tactics. Political parties had made great efforts to have their own
workers recruited as temporary police - "the parties
keep calling up trying to persuade us to accept their
cadres", complained a police superintendent35 - but
the partisanship of temporary recruits did not lead to
significant complaints. Overall, party workers and ordinary voters shared a high opinion of the technical
management ofthe election, many of them commenting that these were the best managed elections Nepal
had ever had.36
Across the country the vote largely started on time at
7am, with many voters queuing before the polls
opened. In a handful of places, minor disputes delayed the opening of polls by a few hours. The majority of those who cast ballots did so well before the
polls closed at 5pm. By noon, the EC announced that
turnout had reached almost 50 per cent; by mid-
afternoon, polling stations in Bhaktapur and Kathmandu were almost deserted. Three people were
killed on the day itself, including an independent candidate for Sarlahi-6, Shambhu Prasad Singh, who was
shot in the evening by unidentified gunmen.37 However, violent incidents and deaths were far fewer than
in previous elections.
Turnout was high given the circumstances but slightly
lower than in past general elections.38 There were
slight differences in the FPTP (61.7 per cent) and PR
(63.3 per cent) figures: although most voters participated in both races as part of the same procedure,
government officials, security personnel and Maoist
PLA members were enrolled as "temporary" voters
and only allowed to vote in the PR race.39 The early
Crisis Group interview, Nepalgunj, 4 April 2008.
36 Crisis Group interviews, various districts, 10-17 April 2008.
37 "Independent candidate gunned down in Sarlahi", nepal-, 10 April 2008.
38 Voter turnout was 65.15 per cent in 1991, 61.86 per cent in
1994 and 65.79 per cent in 1999. Election Commission of
Nepal at On turnout as a benchmark, see Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Election and Beyond, op. cit., p 7.
39On temporary voters, see Crisis Group Report, Nepal's
Election and Beyond, op. cit., p. 11.
and high participation suggested enthusiasm - as well
as perhaps some organised rigging. There were significant regional and local variations. Many Tarai
constituencies, where it had been feared that the
threats of armed disruption would scare voters away,
saw turnout crossing 65 per cent.
Many remote districts, especially in the west, had more
than 70 per cent turnout - all such areas recording resounding Maoist victories.40 In isolated Dolpa, 79.9
per cent of 21,932 registered voters took part, while
nearby Manang, won by Maoist minister Dev Prasad
Gurung, had only 40.1 per cent participation. In urban
areas, Bhaktapur stood out with 74.3 per cent turnout
- and voters awarding both seats to the locally based
NWPP, one of the smallest members of the seven-
party governing coalition.41
Many migrants to urban areas returned to their home
villages to vote - often assisted by the Maoists providing free transport. But probably even more were
unable to vote. A majority ofthe dozens of migrants
in Kathmandu interviewed by Crisis Group reported
they could not, mainly because ofthe time and money
it would have cost to reach their permanent addresses;
of those who did vote, many were from relatively accessible nearby districts.42 Hundreds of thousands
(possibly as many as 2.5 million) of Nepalis working
abroad did not get to vote, although the major parties
did mobilise their long-standing organisations in India
to persuade some supporters to return to take part.
These figures go some way to explaining the lower
than usual turnout, although anecdotal evidence suggests many absent voters had their votes cast by party
agents. Several hundred thousand young adults were
excluded because the cut-off date for the electoral roll
40 Voter turnout: Kalikot 70.6 per cent, Dolpa 79.9 per cent,
Mugu 75.4 per cent, Jumla 71 per cent and Humla 79.7 per
cent. See "Winning Candidates of FPTP by Constituency" at
41 In this report, the term "seven parties" refers to the governing coalition of six parliamentary parties and the Communist
Party of Nepal (Maoist, CPN(M)). The "six parties" are the
continuation of the Seven-Party Alliance, whose membership was reduced when the Nepali Congress and Nepali
Congress (Democratic), NC(D), reunited. Past Crisis Group
reporting referred to this alliance as the SPA, a term that is
now widely used to refer to the six plus the CPN(M) - although there is no "alliance" binding them. The six parties
are the Nepali Congress (NC); Communist Party of Nepal
(Unified Marxist-Leninist, UML); Nepal Sadbhavana Party
(Anandidevi, NSP(A)); Janamorcha Nepal; Nepal Workers
and Peasants Party (NWPP); and United Left Front (ULF).
42 Crisis Group interviews, Kathmandu, 10-12 April and May
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was mid-November 2006.43 There are no separate statistics on the turnout of women,44 nor breakdowns by
any other category, although party agents carefully
noted who was voting, so the more organised ones
could do their own analysis.
C. Did Voters Know What
They Were Doing?
Statistics alone cannot demonstrate the level of voter
understanding. However, the high turnout and the low
number of spoiled ballots (5.2 per cent in the FPTP
race and 3.7 per cent in the PR45) suggest much
greater awareness than sceptical observers had anticipated.46 Any wasted ballots are disappointing, and in
some constituencies the number of spoiled ballots was
See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Election and Beyond, op.
cit, p. 11.
44 The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
(OHCHR) reported that 53 per cent of voters were women,
on the basis of counts by various international observers at
over 500 polling stations. "Constituent Assembly Elections
of 10 April 2008: Summary of Human Rights Monitoring",
OHCHR-Nepal, 18 June 2008, p. 5. However, international
observers caution that their counts were not systematic so
specific figures are unlikely to be accurate. Crisis Group interviews, international observers, Kathmandu, May-June 2008.
45 Tarai districts, especially those in the east, saw the highest
levels of invalid votes. Saptari had the worst record, with
three of its six constituencies having over 9 per cent rejected
ballots (and 8.1 per cent across the district) in the FPTP race.
In the PR race, Saptari-2 had 9.3 per cent rejected ballots, the
highest nationwide. Whereas Saptari also witnessed high
turnout, the district with the lowest number of invalid votes
(Manang, at 2.1 per cent) had only 40.1 per cent turnout. See
"Constituency-wise Total Voters, Casted Vote, Valid Vote,
Invalid Vote and its Percentage in PR Election System" and
"Constituency-wise Total Voters, Casted Vote, Valid Vote,
Invalid Vote and its Percentage in FPTP Election System",
Election Commission of Nepal, 6 May 2008, at www. For useful maps indicating the regional variations in spoiled ballots, see http://resultnepalelectionportal.
46 The largest pre-election survey cautioned: "Only a small
proportion of people have heard about the issues raised by
the political parties such as federal state, proportional electoral system, etc. Likewise, only a small proportion understand what a constituent assembly election is". Sudhindra
Sharma and Pawan Kumar Sen, "Nepal Contemporary Political Situation V: Nationwide Opinion Survey", Interdisciplinary Analysts, Kathmandu, March 2008, p. 67. Fieldwork
carried out in December 2007 and early January 2008 found
that 67 per cent of respondents had heard ofthe CA but only
21 per cent correctly understood it. On an earlier survey in
this series and the narrow definition of "correct" understanding, see Crisis Group Report, Towards a Lasting Peace, op.
cit, p. 37, fn. 360.
greater than the winning margin. Nevertheless, the
figures are respectable given the complexity of the
parallel system and the uncertain circumstances ofthe
vote.47 The sheer number of parties which were only
represented on ballot papers by sometimes similar-
looking symbols (such as the various combinations of
hammers, sickles and stars for numerous communist
parties) made the voters' task more arduous.
Voters interviewed at polling stations generally indicated a strong understanding of both the purpose of
the election and the technicalities of the procedure.
They were guided by officials and party agents (legitimately present inside the entrance of the stations)
and most had plenty of time to observe those ahead of
them in the long queues going through the various
steps: from identification, marking of a fingernail
with indelible ink to prevent multiple voting, issuing
of the FPTP paper and voting to the second step of
receiving, marking and casting the PR ballot. An experiment with electronic voting, in Kathmandu-1,
was a resounding success, with no lost votes and a
prompt result.48
The EC itself had run countrywide 45-day voter education campaigns, with district offices training and
deploying volunteers, mainly schoolteachers, to all
villages in their district. While some district election
officers (DEOs) and volunteers reported sporadic difficulties, and some party workers suggested they had
not been as assiduous in their campaign as the parties
had in canvassing, the effort appears to have been
successful. EC programs were complemented by civil
society efforts, intense media coverage and the parties' own communication with voters. Some DEOs
reported that the UN mission (UNMIN) District Elec-
By comparison, the 2007 Scottish parliament elections,
which also used a (different but equally complex) combination of constituency contests and regional PR races, saw 4.28
per cent rejected constituency ballots and 3 per cent rejected
regional ballots. "Rejected ballots at the 3 May Scottish Parliamentary Elections", UK Electoral Commission, 13 June
2007, at
documentcfm/19604. One study suggested social deprivation and the number of parties on the regional lists were factors in the high number of spoiled ballots. Christopher Carman and James Mitchell, "An Examination of Ballot Rejection in the Scottish Parliamentary Election of 2007", Department of Government, Strathclyde University, at http://news.
London's 2008 mayoral elections, which used a transferable
vote system, saw 1.7 per cent spoiled first choice votes and
16.8 per cent spoiled second votes. http://results.londonelects.
48 See "Winning Candidates of FPTP by Constituency", at
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tion Advisers (UN volunteers, one of whom was deployed to each district) boosted their enthusiasm for
the awareness campaign and generally added to their
confidence in election preparations, as much by their
moral support as any technical assistance.49
Polling was postponed or suspended in 106 stations,
belonging to 21 constituencies across twelve districts.50 Seventy-seven of these were in Surkhet-1,
whose voting was suspended after the pre-election
killing ofthe UML candidate. Other suspensions were
caused by events on the day itself, primarily efforts to
capture booths or clashes between rival party activists. The number is a tiny proportion of the total
20,866 booths - around 0.5 per cent. Repolling in all
booths took place successfully within nine days ofthe
original election date, being completed with the 19
April Surkhet-1 election. Well-informed observers
had expected a far greater number of suspensions and
potentially serious logistical and security challenges
in managing reruns.51 The reality was far less problematic - a testament to surprisingly good party behaviour, weak disruptive efforts by armed groups and
the EC's high organisational capacity.
The verdict of national and international election observers was remarkably positive - especially given
that many of the national observers were directly or
indirectly linked to the UML and NC and primed to
criticise any Maoist misbehaviour. Only a few hours
after the polls opened, the most prominent observer,
former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, declared the
election "revolutionary".52 This set the tone for other
early comments and may have encouraged some of
the national observers to hurry out their preliminary
findings.53 One large national network observed on 11
April that "the momentous elections to the much-
awaited Constituent Assembly have been conducted
in Nepal in accordance with the internationally accepted norms and standards".54
For the EU, the election was "a crucial step towards
an inclusive democracy in Nepal and has so far met
several international standards", although its observers noted that "the campaign period was tense across
the country and marred by incidents of intimidation
and violence".55 The Asian Network for Free Elections
(ANFREL), described the election as "largely successful and credible", stating that "[t]he overall integrity of
the election will be upheld provided that the counting
of ballots is conducted well and grievances are appropriately resolved, including through re-polling".56
Crisis Group interviews, various locations including Parbat
and Dhading, April 2008.
50Election Commission of Nepal, at
EN/detail_news.php?id= 128.
51 See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Election and Beyond, op.
cit, p. 16.
Manesh Shrestha, "Three dead in Nepal vote violence"
at www.cnn.coni/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/04/10/nepal.election/
index.html. The Carter Center's official press statement,
12 April 2008, is at
53 Some were already planning prompt initial statements; see
Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Election and Beyond, op. cit,
pp. 14-15. Nevertheless, Jimmy Carter's high profile, his
across-the-board acceptability (while winning the Maoists'
trust he is still fondly remembered by NC activists for having
written to King Birendra urging the release of NC leader
B.P. Koirala for health treatment while he was president) and
the Carter Center's lengthy continued presence in Nepal
meant that his comments were given much greater attention
than those of other observers.
54"Statement of Preliminary Observation", National Election
Observation Committee (NEOC), Kathmandu, 11 April 2008.
55 "Largely successful election day despite tense campaign
marks step towards inclusive democracy", EU Election Observation Mission statement, Kathmandu, 12 April 2008.
56"Credible Elections Advance Nepal's Peace Process",
ANFREL statement, Kathmandu, 12 April 2008.
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The polls themselves were professionally managed
and the atmosphere on the day was very good - many
people commented that these were probably the best
run elections Nepal has ever held.57 Nevertheless, the
environment was far from perfect. There was background fear and intimidation and all major parties engaged in irregularities. In particular, the Maoists used
calibrated threats, from ominous warnings of a possible return to conflict to various low-profile, local tactics
to encourage/coerce people to vote for them. Some of
these efforts appeared deliberate and carefully orchestrated. For example, they deployed PLA soldiers outside the cantonments early in the campaign to remind
people of their military capacity but ensured they were
all inside well before the day itself.
b. disruption, intimidation
and Cheating
The Maoists made systematic efforts to disrupt other
parties' campaigns in particular areas, but there were
many clashes with no Maoist involvement.58 The
Maoists appear to have adopted a strategic approach
to disruptive activity: securing their heartlands, deploying additional activists to contested constituencies
and using local displays of force as a tool in national-
level negotiations, in particular while pressing the
UML for an electoral alliance.59 The CPN(M) consistently obstructed royalist parties and also responded
strongly to what it claimed were UML and NC efforts
to harass its own workers.
The NC and UML demonstrated that the Maoists
were far from the only guilty party. To cite only two
examples verified by Crisis Group in the final days of
the campaign: NC/UML clashes in Lamjung district
led to serious injuries and bitter recriminations on
Crisis Group interviews, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur and Kathmandu districts, 10 April 2008.
58 The most comprehensive survey of political and election-
related violence was carried out by the Democracy and Election Alliance Nepal (DEAN). It recorded 485 violent incidents, involving 50 deaths, between 26 November 2007 and
30 April 2008. "Election and Political Violence in Nepal",
op. cit.
59 It was certainly the impression of UML workers that Maoist attacks were linked to downturns in the talks for an alliance. "Every time our leaders say we don't need an alliance
on their [the Maoists'] terms, they attack us. It seems they're
just desperate", commented one of several dozen UML and
ANNFSU (student wing) activists who had been prevented
from holding a planned rally in Mainapokhari by some 200-
300 YCL cadres, whom they claimed had been brought in
from surrounding districts. Crisis Group interviews, Nayapul
(Tamakoshi), Dolakha, 28 March 2008.
both sides;60 an NC/UML confrontation in Dhading's
district headquarters forced the authorities to impose a
curfew to contain the violence.61 There were frequent,
credible, allegations that certain NC and UML candidates had brought in hired thugs to support their campaigns.62 There was a spike in abductions in the days
before the polls, with the Office ofthe High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) receiving reports
of 28 abductions in the 6-9 April period, 22 of them
reportedly carried out by the CPN(M). Most abductees
were only held for a few hours; some were handed
over to police, accused of electoral malpractices, with
their captors claiming they had carried out citizens'
arrests rather than kidnapping.63
Apart from open violence, all major parties engaged
in underhand tactics to boost their vote. The Maoists
were only exceptional in the dedication, scale and success of their efforts - one example of their "main-
streaming". Many ofthe most effective ways of influencing the vote are relatively invisible but require
significant organisational investment. Possibly the most
significant irregularity (although there is not nearly
enough solid evidence to evaluate these trends with
certainty) was unauthorised proxy voting, sometimes in
the name of voters who were actually present but especially in the names of migrants whose names were
on the roll but could not turn up to vote themselves.64
Proxy voting is not new, and several parties appear to
have engaged in it, but only the Maoists had the capacity to invest major resources in visiting households
in advance of the election to check up on how many
voters would be present and to cross-check this against
the electoral roll. One Maoist cadre from Sindhu-
palchowk-2 claimed he himself had cast 150 proxy
votes in his constituency.65 The fielding of "dummy
candidates"66 may not have made much difference during the campaign but proved its utility on the day,
when these candidates' agents were able to be present
Crisis Group interviews, NC and UML district officials and
UML activists injured in clashes, Lamjung, 8 April 2008.
61 Crisis Group interviews, party workers, administrative and
security officials, Dhading, 9 April 2008.
62 Crisis Group interviews, Tanahun, Dhading, Lamjung districts, March-April 2008.
63 "Constituent Assembly Elections", OHCHR-Nepal, op.
cit,p. 3.
64 For example, a Kathmandu-based journalist reported how
she discovered that someone had voted in her name in her
home district, "and I can guess which party it would have been
for". Crisis Group interview, Kathmandu, 29 April 2008.
65 Crisis Group interview, Maoist cadre, Kathmandu, 2 May
66 See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Election and Beyond, op.
cit, p. 14.
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Page 11
inside polling stations to assist their true parties.67
There were probably many campaign financing irregularities as well, but it is unlikely these will ever
be fully investigated.68
It could be that widespread expectations of serious
violence reduced observers' sensitivity to lower-level
and less-visible cheating. To some extent, the physical security of election materials was also a diversion:
except in a very few cases rigging attempts were more
subtle than attacks on ballot boxes. Some efforts took
place before polling day. Election officers in Lalitpur-
3 and Ramechhap-2 told a television reporter that they
were asked to sign some ballot papers before the polls
opened (they are meant to be signed individually before being handed to a verified voter).69 In one case,
the EC took action against a polling officer in Saptari
district for allowing the use of PR ballot papers without his signature.70 Some party workers distributed incentives to voters, such as money, liquor and meat.71
Maoists were the principal victims of political violence
but also instigated the most orchestrated low-level harassment. Apart from eight of their activists who were
killed in the opening weeks of the campaign,72 seven
party workers were shot dead by an armed police detail guarding NC candidate Khum Bahadur Khadka in
Dang district on 8 April. Although initial reports sug-
Crisis Group met some such agents - including two who
could not even remember the name of the candidate they
were supposed to be representing. Crisis Group interviews,
Lalitpur district, 10 April 2008.
68 Only 26 of 54 parties contesting the elections submitted
their expenditure details as directed. "26 parties furnish poll
expenditure details at EC", The Kathmandu Post, 12 June
2008. Of those that have (including the three largest parties),
the accounts are clean, probably suspiciously so. Accusations of dubious accounting have followed party lines. For a
UML perspective on alleged NC and CPN(M) malpractice,
see Bhadra Sharma, "Maovadi ra kangresdvara nakkali khar-
cha pesh", Budhabar, 18 June 2006.
69 Crisis Group interview, Ajaybabu Shiwakoti, Kathmandu,
18 April 2008.
70The EC directed Saptari district's chief returning officer to
take departmental action (ie, an internal disciplinary measure) against Amarendra Kumar Yadav, a polling officer in
Dadha village, for allowing the use of unsigned PR ballot
papers and ordered a repoll. EC press briefing, 12 April,
2008, at
71 For example, Crisis Group witnessed CPN(M) workers
distributing chiura (beaten rice) and sugar just 100 metres
outside a polling station in Nuwakot-3 during repolling, 17
April 2008.
72 See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Election and Beyond, op. cit.
gested they had launched an assault, and the police
were responding in self-defence, subsequent accounts
suggested this was not the case.73 An inquiry was
launched but has yet to report. It was good fortune
that Maoist leader Krishna Bahadur Mahara arrived
quickly on the scene to urge restraint.
On the eve of the election, UML candidate Rishi
Prasad Sharma was shot dead in Surkhet district, also
by security personnel deployed with an NC leader,
Puma Bahadur Khadka. The Surkhet-1 constituency
election had to be postponed but these killings were
not the much-feared harbingers of election-day bloodshed.74 The day itself was remarkably peaceful, although there were four election-related deaths.75 Of a
rash of small bombings in the Tarai, the 29 March Biratnagar mosque attack was the most egregious atrocity.76 Overall, the unexpectedly low level of violence
in the Tarai suggests that armed groups' threats were
"Seven CPN-M cadres were killed and 12 were injured
when [Armed Police Force (APF)] and [Nepal Police (NP)]
personnel escorting an NC candidate fired at CPN-M vehicles in Lamahi VDC. OHCHR found no evidence to support
claims by the APF and NP that they opened fire in response
to firing by CPN-M members. No firearms were reportedly
found in the CPN-M vehicles and no-one in the NC candidate's entourage was injured. OHCHR called for an independent investigation into this incident as the information
gathered so far indicates that the killing of the seven may
amount to extra-judicial execution by the police". "Constituent Assembly Elections", OHCHR-Nepal, op. cit, p. 3.
74 Sharma's widow, Kamala Sharma, was selected to contest
the seat for the UML and easily won the election on 19 April,
with 18,804 votes to the NC's Lai Bahadur Ghale's 12,335.
She was the only woman FPTP winner for the UML. "Surkhet 1 ma Kamala Sharma Bijayi",
75 One man died in Dharan after being hit on the head during
an MJF-NC clash in Sunsari; in Mahottari an NC candidate's
vehicle hit and killed a protestor (after shots were allegedly
fired from the candidate's vehicles); an independent candidate in Sarlahi was shot dead in circumstances that remain
unclear; and a UML cadre was killed in Kaski, his party
blaming the CPN(M), which has denied involvement. "Constituent Assembly Elections", OHCHR-Nepal, op. cit, p. 6.
Nepal's previous general elections were all marred by violence. For example, in 1991 there were ten killings on polling day, and violence forced repolling in almost one third of
the districts. See "Election and Political Violence in Nepal",
DEAN, op. cit, p. 13. The May 2008 local elections in India's West Bengal, which borders Nepal, were far more violent, with at least 37 deaths. Subir Bhaumik, "Toll in violent
India poll rises", BBC News, 20 May 2008. (West Bengal's
2003 local elections had been just as bad, with many deaths on
the day and 30 during the campaign period. Subir Bhaumik,
"Bengal's bloodied poll", BBC News, 12 May 2003.)
76 See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Election and Beyond, op.
cit, p. 6.
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largely empty, and rumours ofthe palace pouring resources into armed disruption were either false or vastly
D. Much Moaning, Few Formal
The losers - and sometimes the winners - have made
full use of the media to issue a litany of post-poll
complaints. Some, in particular the royalist parties
and NC leaders, had launched their public recriminations well before the polls. Many oftheir grievances
appeared to be justified.77 However, the broad aspersions cast on the validity of the elections in press interviews and speeches have not been backed up by
many formal complaints.
The CA electoral laws and associated regulations offered a variety of means to resolve disputes or investigate alleged violations and, if necessary, punish offending individuals or parties.78 The EC registered
304 complaints before the election, mostly relating to
code of conduct violations and obstruction in campaigning. Almost all were quickly resolved, some
having been submitted only for the record or having
been settled before they were submitted to the EC.79
Only 64 complaints were made about incidents on
polling day or during the count, and all were resolved.
Of the 106 booths where repolling was needed, the
EC ruled for a repoll in 30, while the other cases were
decided by DEOs.
In the entire election period, the EC only once imposed a punishment - and that on one of its own officers rather than a candidate or party.80 Some further
minor disputes took place during the vote and the
count, but few were reported to the EC and the vast
majority were resolved on the spot, often through negotiations between party agents, EC officials and security or administrative officials.81 The reluctance of
the EC and other authorities to take more determined
action may well have deterred some potential complainants from bothering to use formal channels. For
example, OHCHR discovered that the police had taken
no action against any alleged kidnappers, even when
written incident reports were lodged with them.82
There were also few formal post-election complaints.
Some parties may have registered complaints with
district administrative officials or district courts but, if
so, these cases have not reached the attention of Kathmandu authorities or party hierarchies; the Supreme
Court has not received any election-related writs.83
The dedicated constituent assembly election court has
registered sixteen cases, twelve on disputes in FPTP
competitions and four on disputed PR counts. The
FPTP cases relate mainly to allegations of booth capture and rigging; the PR cases involve complaints by
candidates against their own parties, alleging that their
selection of winning candidates was not endorsed by
the parties' central committees as the law stipulated.
All these cases are pending, and court officials predict
it may take weeks or months to conclude them. Overall, the picture is clear. However valid losers' complaints may be, their reluctance to use established procedures to pursue them suggests they either have little
supporting evidence or are more interested in generating publicity than seeing justice done by the law.
E. What Can Be Concluded?
International observers now avoid using the phrase
"free and fair", concentrating instead on measuring
compliance with "international standards" while withholding an overall verdict. In these terms, all major
missions submitted positive reports.84 The most negative judgement, that of the U.S. State Department,
stopped well short of outright condemnation: "In April
2008 the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist won a
plurality of seats in Constituent Assembly elections
See, for example, ibid, pp. 6-7.
78 See ibid, p. 19.
79 Crisis Group interview, EC spokesperson Laxman Bhattarai, 9 June 2008. The breakdown of complainants is: political
parties, 91; government entities, 55; mass media, 28; others
(individuals), 130.
80 See fn. 70 above.
81 Crisis Group observed a number of minor disputes, all of
which were eventually resolved without resort to court proceedings or formal EC sanction (although the more complex
ones were referred to the EC for adjudication and directives).
The incidents observed ranged from an on-the-spot argument
over proxy voting (Chaugarhi polling station, Lalitpur district, 10 April 2008) to counts stalled by disputes over al
leged cheating by rival parties (Bara and Dhanusha districts,
13 April 2008; Sunsari district, 14 April 2008).
82 "OHCHR was concerned to find that no action was taken by
the police against CPN-M cadres in any of the abductions reported to OHCHR, even in those cases in which First Investigation Reports were subsequently filed by the victims". "Constituent Assembly Elections", OHCHR-Nepal, op. cit, p. 4.
83 Crisis Group interview, Shri Kanta Poudel, joint registrar,
Supreme Court, Kathmandu, 10 June 2008. The Supreme
Court received one complaint from Sarita Giri, relating to a
post-poll dispute rather than an election-related case.
84 The largest international observer missions have yet to issue final reports; the Carter Center's and EU's are likely to
be published during July 2008. Both of these missions, and
ANFREL, released preliminary statements on 12 April 2008.
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that were generally accepted by the population but
marred by violence, intimidation and voting irregularities."85
A reasonable conclusion is that the elections were remarkably free and fair given the circumstances and
despite the widespread irregularities and violence, in
particular the killings of Maoist activists. They delivered a clear sense of the popular will and a decisive
winning mandate for the Maoists, as evidenced by
their very strong performance in the capital, where
they had little chance to use coercive tactics. There is
little mileage now in arguing they were fraudulent,
especially as the losing parties filed very few formal
complaints about specific incidents. More importantly,
there is no evidence that even better elections would
have delivered a markedly different result.
The count
The first result arrived by the morning after the polls
closed, thanks to a successful pilot test of electronic
voting. The NC's Prakash Man Singh took Kathmandu-1 (formerly a UML stronghold), causing party
leaders to comment that "the morning shows the day"
and predict they would continue to be the beneficiaries ofthe UML and CPN(M) eating into each other's
base.86 However, the pattern ofthe early results suggested that this was only happening in Kathmandu,
where the NC did perform surprisingly strongly.
Elsewhere, the indications of a Maoist landslide were
impossible to deny. The counting took place more
promptly and efficiently than any experts had predicted,
in some cases surprising even the officials who were
overseeing the counts.87
The most important factor to affect public and party
perceptions was that, as expected, almost all centres
counted the FPTP ballots first and left the PR till
later. This meant that the Maoists' disproportionately
convincing FPTP victory shaped the atmosphere before being balanced by a PR tally that reduced their
overall share of CA seats. Within a few days of the
election, the bulk of FPTP results were out, and more
efficient centres had also completed the PR count.88
All FPTP results, including repolling, were completed
in twelve days, with the PR tally following two days
later. After cross-checking and making the necessary
calculations,89 the EC announced the final results, including and allocation of PR seats by party, on 25 April.
"Advancing Freedom and Democracy Reports - 2008",
U.S. State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights,
and Labor, 23 May 2008,
Gagan TJiapa, interview on Nepal Television, 11 April 2008.
87 Even officers in charge of counting centres where disputes
had stalled some constituency counts reported that they were
surprised at the smoothness of the process and impressed by
the dedication of their staff. Crisis Group interviews, returning officers, Parsa and Dhanusha districts, 13 April 2008.
88 By the time Crisis Group reached eastern hill districts on
13-15 April, there was little left to observe. Dhankuta district
had completed both counts on 13 April, Tehrathum was into
the final stage of PR counting on 14 April, and officials in
Ham were already busy doing a stocktake of ballot boxes and
other materials before putting them into storage on 15 April.
Tarai districts tended to take longer, not least because of
their much larger populations.
89 The PR seats to be allocated to each party were calculated according to the modified Sainte-l^ague formula. See Crisis Group
Report, Nepal's Election and Beyond, op. cit, p. 9, fh. 57.
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Page 14
The Maoists won 220 ofthe 575 seats, exactly twice
as many as their nearest rival, the NC.90 (Twenty-six
members to be nominated by the cabinet but not yet
agreed upon will bring the CA to its total of 601.) The
UML trailed in third place with 103 seats, while the
MJF led the Madhesi parties with a tally of 52 seats
making it a powerful fourth party. The Maoists routed
their opponents in the FPTP contest, where their 120
seats (exactly 50 per cent ofthe total) contrasted with
the NC's 37 and UML's 33; they also emerged as the
largest party in the Tarai, with 42 FPTP seats to the
MJF's 30, sweeping the western Tarai while remaining shaky in the east.
The PR results naturally tempered the distortions of
the FPTP system. While the Maoists won 50 per cent
of FPTP seats on a 30.5 per cent share ofthe vote; in
the PR they received 29.3 per cent ofthe vote and a
similar proportion of the seats on offer. The NC and
UML, in contrast, were saved from shame by the PR
safety net, bagging 73 and 70 seats respectively (with
a 19.1 and 18.1 share ofthe vote). Five individuals
won from two FPTP constituencies; they have now
resigned one seat each, and five by-elections for the
vacancies are pending.91
2.    Notable features
The major features of the results have been thoroughly dissected in the Nepali media, and plentiful
analysis is readily available.92 The nature ofthe Maoist victory is discussed in the next section. A notable
aspect of the FPTP race was voters' strongly expressed distaste for many long-serving mainstream
politicians and apparent dissatisfaction at being taken
Final results can be found under
CAResults/. The EC's official results do not include five
seats won by candidates who were each victorious in two
FPTP constituencies. They assume that only 570 members of
the CA have been elected and have deducted the extra seats
from the originally winning parties pending by-elections.
91 Prachanda vacated his Rolpa-2 constituency and kept
Kathmandu-10, Sher Bahadur Deuba vacated Kanchanpur-4
for his home ground, Dadeldhura-1. Dev Gurung decided to
keep Manang and resigned from Kaski-1. The MJF's Upendra Yadav and Bijaya Kumar Gachhedar both left their
Morang constituencies for Sunsari constituencies. Although
some parties called for prompt by-elections, the EC would
prefer to hold them after the monsoon, given weather-related
logistical difficulties.
92Useful online sources of election-related information include: Election Commission of Nepal (;
the UN mission (UNMIN) elections page (
np/?d=peaceprocess&p=election); and Nepal Election Portal
(, which offers the best selection of maps and statistical charts.
for granted by the old parties. The UML was wiped
out in its erstwhile stronghold, the Kathmandu valley.
Ofthe fifteen constituencies in Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur districts, four went to the NC, two to
the NWPP and the remainder to the CPN(M). The
previously unknown Jhakku Subedi, a Maoist activist
from Rolpa, defeated the UML general secretary, Madhav Kumar Nepal, in the Kathmandu constituency
where he had been comfortably ensconced since 1991.
The Maoist wave did not spare sympathetic individuals in rival parties: the CPN(M) defeated home minister and dedicated peace negotiator Krishna Prasad
Sitaula in Jhapa, pro-alliance UML leader Bamdev
Gautam in Bardiya and Janamorcha Nepal leader
Lilamani Pokharel in Sindhuli.
The NC's humiliating defeat was particularly crushing with respect to its more conservative leaders and
members ofthe Koirala clan. Almost all of those who
had spoken out in favour of a ceremonial monarchy
were beaten, as were eighteen of the twenty Koirala
relatives who stood in FPTP seats (G.P. Koirala's reluctance to subject himself to the verdict of voters in
his traditional constituency was a wise calculation.)
Staunch monarchist Kamal Thapa, leader of the only
avowedly anti-republican party, the RPP (Nepal), forfeited his deposit in Makwanpur by failing to reach 10
per cent. In this he was not alone: four out of five
FPTP candidates lost their deposits.93
The Maoists achieved many remarkably - some would
say suspiciously - resounding victories, winning all ten
constituencies where the margin of victory was more
than 40 percentage points.94 In Gorkha-2, Baburam
Bhattarai secured 81.9 per cent ofthe votes, defeating
the NC by a margin of 71 per cent. This stretched even
sympathetic observers' credulity and angered NC leaders who accepted their loss but believe the figures il-
"80 pc contestants failed to get 10 pc votes: EC", nepal-, 22 April 2008.
94These were: Ramechhap-2 (Dilliman Tamang defeating
the UML's Kailash Prasad Dhungel by 46.5 per cent); Dhad-
ing-1 (Pushpa Bikram Malla by 41.2 per cent over the NC's
Dilman Pakhrin); Gorkha-1 (Parbati Thapa by 55.7 per cent
over senior NC leader Chiranjivi Wagle); Gorkha-2 (Baburam Bhattarai by 71 per cent); Gorkha-3 (Amar Bahadur Gurung by 49.3 per cent over former NC parliamentarian Chin-
kaji Gurung); Rukum-1 (Jim Kumari Roka by 67.9 per cent);
Rukum-2 (PLA Deputy Commander Janardan Sharma by 44
per cent over the NC's Prem Prakash Oli); Rolpa-1 (Jaypuri
Gharti Magar by 56 per cent); Rolpa-2 (Maoist Chairman
Prachanda by 59.5); Baitadi-1 (Narendra Bahadur Kunwar
by 40 per cent). See "FPTP Winning Margin by Constituency", at
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Page 15
lustrate unsubtle cheating.95 In contrast, the highest
NC vote was only 37.5 per cent (in the Dadeldhura PR
contest), and its poorest showing was in Saptari with
9.7 per cent. The UML's best and worst PR results
were in sparsely populated Mustang (39.7 per cent)
and the Maoist stronghold of Gorkha (7.8 per cent).
3.    A new look assembly
The CA is far more representative than past parliaments. In the words of Ian Martin, the special representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG), it is
"the most inclusive body Nepal has yet known".96 Although most parties did little to meet the Election
Act's guidance that they should "take into account the
principle of inclusiveness while nominating candidates"97 in the FPTP race (the Maoists being the most
notable exception), the fixed quotas for the PR race
ensured representation of many minorities. The 575
elected members of the CA include 50 Dalits, 204
Madhesis and 192 janajatis9S Only 29 women were
elected from the 240 FPTP constituencies (23 of them
Maoists), but the 50 per cent quota from the PR race
brought their total representation in the CA up to one
third. Sunil Babu Pant, a well known campaigner for
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, became
the first openly gay representative, when he was selected from the CPN (United)'s PR list.99
The electoral system also ensured a great diversity of
parties. Where the purely FPTP contests of the past
had made it nearly impossible for small parties to break
into the system, the PR element greatly assisted the
election of representatives from 25 parties. For example, the CPN(ML) won not a single FPTP seat but its
2.3 per cent of the PR vote delivered it eight seats.
The royalist RPP was in a similar position; other royalist parties also gained some PR seats, including four
for the RPP(Nepal). The once controversial ethnic-
An NC leader complained that his party had at least 10,000
supporters in the constituency but received only 6,143 votes.
Crisis Group interview, Kathmandu, 14 May 2008. The
Maoists' PR tally in Gorkha was 65.8 per cent, which suggests that Baburam Bhattarai benefited from his personal
profile - and possibly from extra party campaigning efforts.
The Maoists' best PR result was in their heartland of Rolpa
(66.4 per cent); their share of the vote in neighbouring Rukum (65.6 per cent) was similar to that in Gorkha.
96 SRSG Ian Martin, Press statement, Kathmandu, 28 May 2008.
97Election Act, 5(3).
98 Crisis Group interview, Pasang Sherpa, 13 June 2008.
""Constituent Assembly Elections", OHCHR-Nepal, op.
cit, p. 8. Thanks to the requirement that parties select 50 per
cent women to fill PR seats, Nepal has jumped to fourteenth
position in the global ranking of women's representation in
elected assemblies.
based Rashtriya Janamukti Party secured two seats.
The Chure Bhawar Rashtriya Ekta Samaj, a pahadi
grouping formed to resist the Madhesi movement in
the eastern Tarai, won one seat for its president, Keshav Raj Mainali. The Nepa: Rashtriya Party, devoted
to pushing the interests of Kathmandu's Newar community, also secured a seat. Despite only receiving
23,512 ofthe 10,739,078 valid PR votes, the Nepal
Parivar Dal, backed by South Korea's Unification
Church (founded by Sun Myung Moon), managed to
establish itself as the CA's most unusual party.100
The arrival of strong Madhesi parties has altered the
look ofthe CA and will change the shape of politics.
The three main Madhesi parties - MJF, TMDP and
Sadbhavana Party - occupied fourth, fifth and sixth
place in the national ranks, with 52, twenty and nine
seats respectively. (The NSP(A), a member ofthe governing coalition, won only two seats, from the PR
race.)101 Their strong performance was disproportionately at the expense ofthe NC.102 However, they also
convincingly eclipsed the Maoists in several districts.
The CPN(M)'s poorest showings in the PR vote were
all in Tarai districts.103 Tarai Dalits and Muslims were
still very poorly represented. Where the Maoists did well
in the Tarai - sweeping several western districts - they
probably drew minority votes as well as those of pahadis who might have previously supported the UML.
The defeat of long-serving mainstream party leaders
helped with the change of faces. Only ten of the 40
UML central committee members who stood in the
FPTP race survived; for the NC, only sixteen of 63
Party PR results  are  at
%20Count% 20In%20Nation.
101 The EC's published statistics are confusing: in its list of
party results, they show 29 MJF FPTP winners, but in their
cumulative totals they work on the basis of 28. In fact the
total of declared seats was 30. However, two MJF candidates
(Upendra Yadav and Bijay Kumar Gachhedar) won in two
constituencies and resigned one each. In Mahottari-6, the
MJF's Sharat Singh Bhandari defeated the NC's Sitaram
Bhandari by 21 votes. Although the result was declared for
the MJF, the NC lodged an appeal. The courts stayed the result and ruled that Sharat Singh Bhandari should not be
sworn in as a member ofthe CA until the case is resolved. It
is still pending.
102Prashant Jha, "Forum in Maostan", Nepali Times, 18
April 2008.
103The Maoists' lowest PR vote was in Parsa (8.2 per cent),
closely followed by the eastern Tarai districts of Sarlahi (9.4
per cent) and Saptari (9.6 per cent), the heartland of the
Madhesi movement. (In contrast, the NC performed creditably in Parsa, winning 23 per cent.) Sarlahi went to the
TMDP, whereas Saptari went to the MJF, whose own best
share ofthe vote was only 25 per cent, in Siraha.
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Page 16
got through.104 Some ofthe giant-killers offered a very
new image. Younger Maoist women beat well-known
leaders such as the UML's Bamdev Gautam (defeated
by Sarala Regmi in Bardiya) and the NC's Chiranjivi
Wagle (by Parvati Thapa in Gorkha) and Chakra Prasad
Bastola (by Dharmasila Chapagain in Jhapa). Popular
local leader Rajendra Bahadur Amatya was defeated
in Parsa by the MJF's Karima Begum, a political unknown. The most remarkable winner was perhaps
Baban Singh, who won as an independent candidate
from Rautahat-1 while still underground with an
NRs.100,000 ($1,500) price-tag on his head as the
most wanted suspect for the 1 September 2007 Kathmandu bombings.105
One of the most significant gulfs between the parties
was the age of their candidates.106 The average of
Maoist FPTP winners was 39, whereas for the NC it
was 53. The youngest winner was the MJF's 25-year-
old Abhishekh Pratap Shah of Kapilvastu-5, while the
oldest was 84-year-old Prime Minister Koirala.
4.    The PR seat distribution
The PR contest was governed by complex and non-
transparent procedures. Nepal is one of only a handful
of countries to have opted for a closed list system that
left the selection of winning candidates in this portion
ofthe contest entirely in the hands of party leaders.107
The only constraints were that their choice had to be
endorsed by their parties' central committees and had
to meet certain quotas for ethnic, caste and gender in-
clusiveness. Most voters, and many officials, were
unclear about how their PR votes would translate into
the selection of CA members.108 This system left all
the power of patronage in a few hands and also enabled parties to foist otherwise unpopular candidates
on the electorate, with no way for them to indicate
any preference.109
The way in which the major old parties made their PR
selections showed how clearly they had refused to digest the lessons from their electoral debacle, despite
having three weeks to reflect. The NC was particularly hampered by its continued disunity, with the PR
seats being internally allocated between the mother
party and the former NC(D) breakaway in a 60:40 ratio. This in itself reduced the chances for some able
candidates, but the lack of fresh thinking was in evidence in the selection. The NC's response to its defeat
in the Tarai was to use the PR list to bring in candidates who would probably have lost in the FPTP. For
example, it inducted no fewer than fourteen from
Sunsari district in the eastern Tarai, not one of them a
Madhesi. The UML made up for its Kathmandu wipe-
out by bringing in ten members from Kathmandu. Although parties met the quotas, they made little effort
to balance their selections geographically.110
The parties' internal selection processes unsurprisingly led to ego clashes and hurt feelings. There were
many arguments, even affecting the otherwise more
disciplined Maoists, whose disgruntled cadres vandalised their own party office in Jhapa.111 There were allegations that leading figures in some parties were
demanding bribes or other favours in return for offering PR berths. Court cases regarding breaches of procedure by party leaders are still pending.112 The overall effect was unedifying, and underlined the severe
reluctance with which established party leaders had
been forced to come to terms with the demand for
more representative candidates.
B.    Why Did the Maoists Win?
The Maoists' victory may have been unexpected, but
it is far from inexplicable. Their energy and commit-
Khagendra Pant, "Kendriya neta chunab hare", Naya Patrika, 16 April 2008.
105 KP. Dhungana, '"Most Wanted' le jite", Naya Patrika,
15 April 2008.
106See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Election and Beyond,
op. cit, p. 4.
107 Ibid, p. 9.
108 Even the most experienced and politically interested officials found it hard to explain how PR votes would translate
into CA members. Crisis Group interviews, various districts
including Ham, 15 April 2008.
109This is not a feature of all PR systems; in fact, Nepal's is
the least transparent of any in use. Most PR systems either
allow voters to indicate preferences for individual candidates
or at least publish party lists, including the order in which
candidates appear on them, before the election. See Crisis
Group Report, Nepal's Election and Beyond, op. cit, p. 9.
110The CPN(M) selected eleven candidates from Banke and
nine from Ham, but none from many other districts. The UML
brought ten from Mustang alone and eight from Tehrathum.
The NC selected fourteen from Chitwan, twelve from Ham,
ten from Morang, nine from Kailali and eight from Parsa. Of
its 22 PR seats, the MJF allotted only one to a non-Madhesi
candidate; most of the remainder went to middle and high-
caste candidates. The four seats won by Rajendra Mahato's
Sadbhavana Party all went to candidates from Morang. In
one case, twenty UML district members resigned to protest
the leadership's failure to represent their community in the
PR selections. "30 UML men resign en masse", ekanti-, 8 June 2008.
111 "Discontent in parties over PR list",, 4
May 2008.
112 See Section VD above.
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Crisis Group Asia Report N°155, 3 July 2008
Page 17
ment have been commented on above, as has their
flexible approach to achieving well-defined strategic
goals. Many voters also looked to them as the party
most likely to deliver peace and change - even if part
of that attraction was the fear that not voting for them
would encourage a return to war. In the absence of in-
depth research, or supplementary indicators such as
exit polls, analysis of the reasons for the Maoist victory is necessarily speculative. Nevertheless some
factors stand out:
□ organisation and communication. The CPN(M)
had a well-structured campaign run by active and
committed cadres. It had carefully planned training
programs and public activities. It made the sheer
size of its campaign force and mobilisation capacity
was telling. For better or worse, the Maoists were
in intimate contact with ordinary people throughout the country during their underground years.
They did not always make themselves loved, but
they listened, learned and maintained their links.
The established parties neglected their popular
bases and concentrated on power politics. They
were forced out of many rural areas by the Maoists
but did not push hard to reestablish themselves
when given the chance. The Maoists' wider connections enabled them both to win people over and
use coercive tactics.
□ cultivating constituencies ignored by other parties. Many classes and communities were ill-
served by the established parties. The Maoists took
up their issues and had little competition in winning their support. Even the UML neglected the
real lower classes, marginalised communities, the
landless and the jobless. (Although many overseas
migrants had landed jobs thanks to party string-
pulling, those excluded were perhaps even more
likely to turn to the Maoists.) Groups such as Tarai
Dalits, Tharus and Rajbanshis could see hope in
the Maoists. The CPN(M) returned 23 of the 49
Dalits in the CA; it also put up a Rajbanshi candidate, who defeated Home Minister Sitaula in
Jhapa. Plenty of hotel and restaurant workers were
well aware that it was thanks to the Maoists that
they benefited from a compulsory service tax.
□ clear policies and an agenda for change. The
Maoists knew what they stood for and made sure
voters did too. While the UML and NC's conversions seemed belated and unconvincing, the transformational agendas of the republic, CA and federalism belonged to the Maoists. They had set the
agenda and knew their core messages. The old parties sounded tired and bereft of ideas in comparison.
□ calculated strong-arm tactics. The Maoists did
flex their muscles in various ways and also used
more subtle threats.113
□ not taking anything for granted. The NC and
UML were overconfident, relying on a presumed
"core vote" that turned out to be much smaller
than they anticipated. The Maoists worked harder
for every vote and correctly judged the political
situation, including party loyalties, to be more fluid
than other parties realised (with the exception of
the Madhesi parties, who thrived for the same reason). First-time voters numbered in the millions -
around 22 per cent of the electorate. With less
rigid political affiliations and different generational perspectives, many saw little to attract them
in the old parties. In contrast, the Maoists made
determined efforts to win youth support, male and
female, and to select many young candidates.
Last but perhaps most important was the role of
struggle and sacrifice. Many non-Maoists, even including confirmed opponents, are willing to recognise
that the Maoists fought hard to bring about political
change - several voters said this alone had persuaded
them to vote for the CPN(M).114 However much the
other parties had joined the Maoists' CA and republican agenda, most people saw clearly that the CPN(M)
deserved the credit for leading this political revolution. This was nothing new. The NC had won similar
public approval in the 1950s (when it led the fight
against the Ranas), and both the NC and UML had
earned approval for their role in spearheading the 1990
people's movement. For politicians in these parties,
their personal itihas ("history") is still a key qualification for rank and office - time spent in jail under the
Panchayat or on the street in protests counts. Viewed
in this light, public recognition for the Maoists' long
years of struggle was not so surprising.
The Maoists used subtlety as well as brute force. For example, a senior candidate who goes door-to-door campaigning and is received by a grandmother might say: "I'm not
asking for your vote but for your blessing when we go back
to the jungle. India, America, the king, the NC and UML
have all sidelined us and are plotting to make us lose - even
though we have the people's support. So please be ready to
help us like before when we come to seek shelter after the
war starts again". The voter would realise which way to vote
for peace - and to avoid having to shelter guerrillas as the army
came looking for them. Another party worker might show
villagers footage of the PLA's battles, asking "if we were
able to shoot videos while we were fighting and killing, will
it be hard for us to see who you vote for?" Many more carried
binoculars and invited voters to try them out, before explaining that it would be easy to check which way they voted. Crisis Group interviews, rural voters, various districts, April 2008.
114Crisis Group interviews, various districts, March-April 2008.
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C.    Why Did We (Almost) All
Get It Wrong?
A major feature ofthe elections was the shock result.
However, those most surprised at the outcome were
probably those who had done most, however unintentionally, to reinforce a misleading assessment of the
Maoists' prospects.
The scale of this miscalculation, and its continued
relevance to the political view from Kathmandu and
abroad, demand examination. The Maoist press, of
course, can claim that they predicted victory correctly. However, their stridently partisan reporting encouraged unbiased readers to take their predictions
with a large grain of salt. The rest of the media, and
domestic and international analysts, largely expected
the Maoists to trail in third place. Crisis Group's own
pre-election report, while avoiding predictions,
strongly implied that this was the likely outcome and
focused disproportionately on the CPN(M) and the
palace as the most likely post-election spoilers.115
The major factors behind these miscalculations are
not just of historical interest. They reflect well-
established shortcomings in the analysis that is available to anyone who does not spend time outside the
capital. Given that the brief spark of self-critical introspection within the media and mainstream parties
appears to have had little lasting effect, it is important
to recall the weaknesses that the election revealed:
□ capital-centrism and circular analysis. Major
media outlets, analysts and diplomats retained
their resolute Kathmandu focus. Outside the valley
the fact the Maoists were not facing humiliation
became clearer and clearer as the day grew closer.
For many ordinary voters, it was obvious well before polling day.116 Local journalists insist that
their stories reflected this fact, but their reporting
was discounted by Kathmandu-based editors, who
preferred to stick with their own view of national
reality.117 Analysts in the capital fed off each other
115See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Election and Beyond,
op. cit.
116Most voters in hill districts and the western Tarai expected the CPN(M) would be at least a very strong contender. Even among committed NC and UML supporters,
very few echoed the confidence of party leaders about their
prospects. Crisis Group interviews, passim.
117 Crisis Group interviews, local correspondents for national
press, radio and TV outlets, various districts across all five
development regions, January-June 2008.
and reinforced mutual misconceptions while ignoring primary sources.118
□ weak mainstream media. All the weaknesses of
the mainstream media came into play. There was a
combination of overt bias and blindness to facts.
Journalists and commentators were unwilling to
abandon long-held positions, especially the belief
that the Maoists could not possibly have genuine
widespread support. This was reinforced by the
liberal article of faith that "Nepalis won't tolerate
authoritarianism of right or left" and the longstanding insistence on triangulating politics by
putting the Maoists at the opposite end of the political spectrum to the king but seeing them as fundamentally alike in other "totalitarian" respects.
Almost all mainstream journalists are at least
UML or NC-leaning and often directly linked
(many correspondents secure their positions
through student party political connections). The
more entertaining, if scurrilous, weekly papers are
unabashedly partisan - they do investigative reporting but normally only when the results suit
their political stance, which undermines their
credibility even when they are accurate. By far the
best single piece of pre-election reporting came
from an Indian journalist familiar with Nepal but
only an occasional visitor.119
□ almost no one understands the Maoists or feels
they need to. Non-Maoist journalists, academics
and analysts who have made serious efforts to understand Maoist thinking are pitifully few and far
between. Ten years of armed conflict and donor
generosity produced a slew of "conflict experts"
but not one academic specialist on Maoism and the
Crisis Group also came in for criticism on this front: "[Kathmandu Post] Correspondent Bikash Sangraula says that the
overwhelming victory by Maoist parties in Nepal's parliamentary elections fooled everyone, 'the experts, the Maoists,
and the journalists, including me....In the run-up to the election, the media was relying on what the 'political experts' said.
The media was quoting research groups, like the International
Crisis Group, that said Nepal could face post-election problems owing to unwillingness by the Maoists to accept election
results... .There was basically a vicious cycle of wrong information and analysis'". David Clark Scott, "Reporters on the
Job", The Christian Science Monitor, 15 April 2008.
119Siddharth Varadarajan, "A vote for change, a vote for
peace", The Hindu, 1 April 2008. This article still deserves
reading as a testament to how much of the shape of things to
come could have been predicted by reporters relying on the
basic tools of their trade - going out and listening to people
with an open mind. Varadarajan spent eight days covering
fifteen constituencies. The combined reporting of Nepal's
many journalists could surely have thrown up at least as
much insight as this solo effort.
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Page 19
CPN(M) nor, despite vast investments in training,
a single expert journalist beyond the handful who
were already interested and well informed in their
own right.
□ no helpful polling. Psephology is not an infallible
discipline even under the best of conditions. In
Nepal, the history of wide-scale opinion surveys is
very short,120 and the circumstances of the CA
election made it particularly hard for even the best
polls to predict voter behaviour.121 Nepal is far
from alone: Indian pollsters suffered a major embarrassment in the 2004 general elections, when
they almost universally - and wrongly - forecast a
victory for the incumbent BJP-led National Democratic Alliance. Some of India's most dedicated
professional psephologists were also criticised for
inaccuracies in their 2008 state election exit polls.122
The unhelpfulness of Nepal's opinion surveys was
neither surprising nor due to amateurishness on the
part of practitioners. The discipline simply needs
more time to develop and learn from local conditions. The nine-year gap since the last election,
which meant that over one-fifth ofthe CA electorate were first-time voters, should not be repeated if
parties stick to the interim constitution's timetable
On political opinion polling in Nepal, see Sudhindra
Sharma and Pawan Kumar Sen, Political Opinion Poll in
Nepal's Context, Studies in Nepali History and Society, vol.
10, no. 2 (2005), pp. 321-358. The major surveys prior to the
election were carried out by Interdisciplinary Analysts (see
fn. 46 above).
121 As one ofthe experts who has pioneered systematic polling commented, the very high number of "don't know/can't
say" responses to voting intention questions in recent surveys was in itself an indication of the difficulty in making
firm forecasts. Sudhindra Sharma, speaking on "Naya Nepal", BBC World Service, 12 April 2008. As Crisis Group
had cautioned, "The complexity of the parallel system, the
vagaries of voter behaviour, the weak tradition of opinion
polling and the fluidity of the post-conflict political landscape all contribute to a situation that defies confident prediction. There has been little research on voter behaviour,
and it is in any event uncertain whether old loyalties will
outweigh more immediate concerns. The arrival of the Maoists as an untested electoral force may lead to shifts in support among leftist voters and beyond". Crisis Group Report,
Nepal's Election and Beyond, op. cit, p. 17.
122 For example, an exit poll in the May 2008 Karnataka state
elections organised by the respected Centre for the Study of
Developing Studies wrongly predicted a hung assembly with
Congress as the largest party. "Exit polls give different pictures", The Hindu, 23 May 2008. Such polls had also been
criticised in 2006, despite their relative accuracy. See K. Narayanan, "How CSDS fine-tunes polling exercise", The
Hindu, 22 May 2006.
for  completing  the  constitution-writing  process
within two years.
□ mainstream parties' own miscalculations. Despite having such large networks on the ground,
NC and UML leaders did not have a good understanding of political realities. Nevertheless, observers felt there must have been some solid reasons for their confidence.123 In contrast, Maoist
leaders were less confident in private than in public, at least until the campaign gathered momentum.124 Party spokesperson Krishna Bahadur Mahara explained, "all parties claim they'll win a
majority, so we do too - that's natural - but we'll
respect the results".125
□ changing popular mood. Voters' intentions were
sometimes hard to gauge until the campaign picked
up. There probably were large numbers of floating
voters who either took time to make up their minds
or only started talking more firmly about their intentions late in the day. Many people were unsure
the elections were going to happen at all, and many
Maoist voters may have been reluctant to express
their support for the CPN(M) while it was still
viewed as an "outside" and partly illegitimate force.
It may be that the story was just too simple for analysts primed to read between the lines and look for
conspiracies and hidden meanings. In the end, the
main players did more or less what they said they
would - from their policy platforms to holding the
A number of factors appear to have affected communication between grass-roots party activists (who were aware that
they faced an uphill straggle) and party leaders. Some activists may have chosen not to report on the true situation, either out of disillusionment with their superiors or out of fear
of being blamed for the negative message; others had their
concerns dismissed as pessimism.
124 It would, however, be wrong to say that Maoist organisers
displayed any significant lack of confidence after the end of
2007. By January 2008, district party officials were upbeat in
their presentation and busy with practicalities, such as training activists in election campaigning techniques. Crisis
Group interviews, Banke, Morang, Kailali districts, January
2008. Four weeks before the election, Baburam Bhattarai
expressed no doubts: "The most likely scenario is that we'll
be the largest political force after the elections. International
powers will have to accept this and the popular desire for
change". Crisis Group interview, Kathmandu, 14 March 2008.
125 Crisis Group interview, Krishna Bahadur Mahara, Kathmandu, 9 March 2008. By the last week of the campaign,
Mahara and other party leaders, who had spent time in many
districts, were much more upbeat, sensing a swing of support
towards them. Crisis Group interviews, Krishna Bahadur
Mahara, Pyuthan, 5 April 2008; Baburam Bhattarai, telephone interview, 8 April 2008, Shaligram Jammarkattel, ;
telephone interview, 9 April 2008.
 Nepal's Election: A Peaceful Revolution?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°155, 3 July 2008
Page 20
election and implementing the republic. The Maoists,
and other parties, stuck to their vow to make sure the
elections went ahead. As his acolytes had always
promised, the king did not interfere overtly. The only
people whose public promises were seriously out of
step with their behaviour were the armed Madhesi
groups, whose campaign of violence fell far short of
their dire threats.
Despite the success of polling day, it was, however,
right to warn about procedural difficulties in the aftermath, as well as the fact that the behaviour of powerful losers would shape the next steps (although
these turned out to be the NC and UML rather than
the Maoists). Fears that there could have been more
violence and disorder were not fulfilled, but the potential was definitely there. The results did underline
that no outcome (including the actual one) would be
inherently stabilising or conflict-reducing.126
Nepal's elections were a major step forward in the
peace process, and for this all political parties and institutions - from the Election Commission and security personnel to civil society groups who kept up
pressure for a free and fair vote - deserve much
credit. The fact that they were also a triumph of democracy owes more to the Maoists and new parties
such as the MJF than the old "democratic" mainstream. For all the Maoists' use of intimidation and
the MJF's policy flip-flopping, it was their campaigns
that allowed voters to wield power, not only delivering a more representative assembly but voting out
many unloved old faces that most citizens had
thought they would be burdened with in perpetuity.
However, the results have left a confused political
landscape with the potential for many future disputes,
even the resumption of conflict. The Maoist victory
was surprisingly clean in terms of their behaviour but
much less clean in pure numbers: commanding just
over one third ofthe new CA, they have the power to
block anything but can achieve nothing without support from other parties. Their opponents have shown
little willingness to recognise their defeat or to smooth
the way towards completion of the peace process and
the writing of a new constitution. The way in which
political leaders cope with the political challenges of
the election aftermath, set out in the companion Crisis
Group report, will determine whether the revolutionary result delivers peace and change or further conflict.
Kathmandu/Brussels, 3 July 2008
See Crisis Group Report, Nepal's Election and Beyond,
op. cit, p. 17. "No configuration of results is without conflict
risk. Any of the possible outcomes could aggravate tensions,
and each would generate powerful losers".
 Nepal's Election: A Peaceful Revolution?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°155, 3 July 2008
Page 21
The boundaries and names shown and the designations
used on this map do not imply official endorsement or
acceptance by the United Nations.
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Department ol Peacekeeping Operations
Cartographic Section
 Nepal's Election: A Peaceful Revolution?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°155, 3 July 2008
Page 22
Asian Network for Free Election
Armed Police Force
Bharatiya Janata Party
Constituent Assembly
Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)
Communist Party of Nepal (Marxist-Leninist)
District Election Officer
Election Commission
European Union
First Past the Post
Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (sometimes referred to in other sources as the
Madhesi People's Rights Forum, MPRF)
National Election Observation Committee
Nepali Congress
Nepali Congress (Democratic)
Nepal Police
Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandidevi)
Nepal Workers and Peasants' Party
Office ofthe United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
People's Liberation Army (Maoist)
Proportional Representation
Rashtriya Prajatantra Party
Rashtriya Prajatantra Party (Nepal)
Tarai Madhes Democratic Party
Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist)
United Nations Mission in Nepal
Young Communist League
 Nepal's Election: A Peaceful Revolution?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°155, 3 July 2008
Page 23
First Past The Post
(as %)
No. of
Vote        No. of
(as %)         seats
No. of
(as %)*
Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)
29.3             100
Nepali Congress
21.1                73
Communist Party of Nepal (UML)
20.3               70
Madhesi Janadhikar Forum
6.3               22
Tarai Madhes Loktantrik Party
3.2               11
Sadbhavana Party
1.6                 5
Rashtriya Prajatantra Party
2.5                 8
Communist Party of Nepal (Marxist-Leninist)
2.3                 8
Janamorcha Nepal
1.5                 5
Communist Party of Nepal (United)
1.4                 5
Rashtriya Prajatantra Party Nepal
1.0                 4
Rashtriya Janamorcha
1.0                 3
Nepal Workers and Peasants Party
0.7                 2
Rashtriya Janashakti Party
1.0                 3
Federal Democratic National Forum
0.7                 2
Nepal Sadbhavana Party (Anandidevi)
0.5                 2
Rashtriya Janamukti Party
0.5                 2
Nepali Janata Dal
0.5                 2
Communist Party of Nepal (Unified)
0.5                 2
Dalit Janajati Party
0.4                  1
Nepa: Rashtriya Party
0.4                  1
Samajwadi Prajatantrik. Janata Party, Nepal
0.3                  1
Chure Bhawar Rashtriya Ekata Party Nepal
0.3                  1
Nepal Lokatantrik Samajbadi Dal
0.2                  1
Nepal Parivar Dal
0.2                  1
2.5                 0
Invalid ballots
*These figures are percentages of 575 CA seats filled by election; 26 members remain to be nominated by the cabinet.
Adapted from the results declared by the Election Commission of Nepal on 25 April 2008. These figures include ten FPTP
seats won by five individuals contesting from two constituencies each. Five seats have now been resigned and will be contested in
by-elections. This affects the CPN(M) (two seats), MJF (two seats) and NC (one seat). The MJF's 30 FPTP seats also include
Mahottari-6, which was declared for them but is now subject to a court appeal (See fn. 101 above).
 Nepal's Election: A Peaceful Revolution?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°155, 3 July 2008
Page 24
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Further information about Crisis Group can be obtained from our website:
 Nepal's Election: A Peaceful Revolution?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°155, 3 July 2008
Page 25
The Curse of Cotton: Central Asia's Destructive Monoculture,
Asia Report N°93, 28 February 2005 (also available in Russian)
Kyrgyzstan: After the Revolution, Asia Report N°97, 4 May
2005 (also available in Russian)
Uzbekistan: The Andijon Uprising, Asia Briefing N°38, 25
May 2005 (also available in Russian)
Kyrgyzstan: A Faltering State, Asia Report N°109, 16 December 2005 (also available in Russian)
Uzbekistan: In for the Long Haul, Asia Briefing N°45, 16
February 2006 (also available in Russian)
Central Asia: What Role for the European Union?, Asia Report N°l 13, 10 April 2006
Kyrgyzstan's Prison System Nightmare, Asia Report N°118,
16 August 2006 (also available in Russian)
Uzbekistan: Europe's Sanctions Matter, Asia Briefing N°54,
6 November 2006
Kyrgyzstan on the Edge, Asia Briefing N°55, 9 November
2006 (also available in Russian)
Turkmenistan after Niyazov, Asia Briefing N°60, 12 February
Central Asia's Energy Risks, Asia Report N°133, 24 May
2007 (also available in Russian)
Uzbekistan: Stagnation and Uncertainty, Asia Briefing N°67,
22 August 2007
Political Murder in Central Asia: No Time to End Uzbekistan's Isolation, Asia Briefing N°76, 13 February 2008
Kyrgyzstan: The Challenge of Judicial Reform, Asia Report
N°150, 10 April 2008
North Korea: Can the Iron Fist Accept the Invisible Hand?,
Asia Report N°96, 25 April 2005 (also available in Korean
and Russian)
Japan and North Korea: Bones of Contention, Asia Report
N°100, 27 June 2005 (also available in Korean)
China and Taiwan: Uneasy Detente, Asia Briefing N°42, 21
September 2005
North East Asia's Undercurrents of Conflict, Asia Report
N°108, 15 December 2005 (also available in Korean and Russian)
China and North Korea: Comrades Forever?, Asia Report
N°112, 1 February 2006 (also available in Korean)
After North Korea's Missile Launch: Are the Nuclear Talks
Dead?, Asia Briefing N°52, 9 August 2006 (also available in
Korean and Russian)
Perilous Journeys: The Plight of North Koreans in China
and Beyond, Asia Report N°122, 26 October 2006 (also available in Korean and Russian)
North Korea's Nuclear Test:  The Fallout, Asia Briefing
N°56, 13 November 2006 (also available in Korean and Russian)
After the North Korean Nuclear Breakthrough: Compliance
or Confrontation?, Asia Briefing N°62, 30 April 2007 (also
available in Korean and Russian)
North Korea-Russia Relations: A Strained Friendship, Asia
Briefing N°71, 4 December 2007 (also available in Russian)
South Korea's Election: What to Expect from President Lee,
Asia Briefing N°73, 21 December 2007
China's Thirst for Oil, Asia Report N°153, 9 June 2008
South Korea's Elections: A Shift to the Right, Asia Briefing
N°77, 30 June 2008
Nepal's Royal Coup: Making a Bad Situation Worse, Asia
Report N°91, 9 February 2005
Afghanistan:  Getting Disarmament Back on Track, Asia
Briefing N°35, 23 February 2005
Nepal: Responding to the Royal Coup, Asia Briefing N°35,
24 February 2005
Nepal: Dealing with a Human Rights Crisis, Asia Report
N°94, 24 March 2005
The State of Sectarianism in Pakistan, Asia Report N°95, 18
April 2005
Political Parties in Afghanistan, Asia Briefing N°39, 2 June
Towards a Lasting Peace in Nepal: The Constitutional Issues, Asia Report N°99, 15 June 2005
Afghanistan Elections: Endgame or New Beginning?, Asia
Report N° 101, 21 July 2005
Nepal: Beyond Royal Rule, Asia Briefing N°41, 15 September 2005
Authoritarianism and Political Party Reform in Pakistan,
Asia Report N°102, 28 September 2005
Nepal's Maoists: Their Aims, Structure and Strategy, Asia
Report N° 104, 27 October 2005 (also available in Nepali)
Pakistan's Local Polls: Shoring  Up Military Rule, Asia
Briefing N°43, 22 November 2005
Nepal's New Alliance:  The Mainstream Parties and the
Maoists, Asia Report N°106, 28 November 2005
Rebuilding the Afghan State: The European Union's Role,
Asia Report N° 107, 30 November 2005
Nepal: Electing Chaos, Asia Report N° 111, 31 January 2006
Pakistan: Political Impact of the Earthquake, Asia Briefing
N°46, 15 March 2006
Nepal's  Crisis:  Mobilising International Influence,  Asia
Briefing N°49, 19 April 2006
Nepal: From People Power to Peace?, Asia Report N° 115, 10
May 2006 (also available in Nepali)
Afghanistan's New Legislature: Making Democracy Work,
Asia Report N°l 16, 15 May 2006
India, Pakistan and Kashmir: Stabilising a Cold Peace, Asia
Briefing N°51, 15 June 2006
Pakistan: the Worsening Conflict in Balochistan, Asia Report N° 119, 14 September 2006
Bangladesh Today, Asia Report N° 121, 23 October 2006
Countering Afghanistan's Insurgency: No Quick Fixes, Asia
Report N°123, 2 November 2006
Sri Lanka: The Failure of the Peace Process, Asia Report
N°124, 28 November 2006
Pakistan's Tribal Areas: Appeasing the Militants, Asia Report N° 125, 11 December 2006
 Nepal's Election: A Peaceful Revolution?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°155, 3 July 2008
Page 26
Nepal's Peace Agreement: Making it Work, Asia Report
N°126, 15 December 2006
Afghanistan's Endangered Compact, Asia Briefing N°59, 29
January 2007
Nepal's Constitutional Process, Asia Report N°128, 26 February 2007 (also available in Nepali)
Pakistan: Karachi's Madrasas and Violent Extremism, Asia
Report N°130, 29 March 2007
Discord in Pakistan's Northern Areas, Asia Report N°131, 2
April 2007
Nepal's  Maoists:   Purists   or  Pragmatists?,   Asia   Report
N°132, 18 May 2007 (also available in Nepali)
Sri Lanka's Muslims: Caught in the Crossfire, Asia Report
N°134, 29 May 2007
Sri Lanka's Human Rights Crisis, Asia Report N°135, 14
June 2007
Nepal's Troubled Tarai Region, Asia Report N°136, 9 July
2007 (also available in Nepali)
Elections, Democracy and Stability in Pakistan, Asia Report
N°137, 31 July 2007
Reforming Afghanistan's Police, Asia Report N°138, 30 August 2007
Nepal's Fragile Peace Process, Asia Briefing N°68, 28 September 2007 (also available in Nepali)
Pakistan: The Forgotten Conflict in Balochistan, Asia Briefing N°69, 22 October 2007
Sri Lanka: Sinhala Nationalism and the Elusive Southern
Consensus, Asia Report N°141, 7 November 2007
Winding Back Martial Law in Pakistan, Asia Briefing N°70,
12 November 2007
Nepal: Peace Postponed, Asia Briefing N°72, 18 December
2007 (also available in Nepali)
After Bhutto's Murder: A Way Forward for Pakistan, Asia
Briefing N°74, 2 January 2008
Afghanistan: The Need for International Resolve, Asia Report N°145, 6 February 2008
Sri Lanka's Return to War: Limiting the Damage, Asia Report N°146, 20 February 2008
Nepal's Election and Beyond, Asia Report N°149, 2 April
2008 (also available in Nepali)
Restoring Democracy in Bangladesh, Asia Report N°151, 28
April 2008
Recycling Militants in Indonesia: Darul Islam and the Australian Embassy Bombing, Asia Report N°92, 22 February
2005 (also available in Indonesian)
Decentralisation and Conflict in Indonesia: The Mamasa
Case, Asia Briefing N°37, 3 May 2005
Southern  Thailand: Insurgency, Not Jihad,  Asia Report
N°98, 18 May 2005 (also available in Thai)
Aceh: A New Chance for Peace, Asia Briefing N°40, 15 August 2005
Weakening Indonesia's Mujahidin Networks: Lessons from
Maluku and Poso, Asia Report N° 103, 13 October 2005 (also
available in Indonesian)
Thailand's Emergency Decree: No Solution, Asia Report
N°105, 18 November 2005 (also available in Thai)
Aceh: So Far, So Good, Asia Briefing N°44, 13 December
2005 (also available in Indonesian)
Philippines Terrorism: The Role of Militant Islamic Converts, Asia Report N°l 10, 19 December 2005
Papua: The Dangers of Shutting Down Dialogue, Asia Briefing N°47, 23 March 2006 (also available in Indonesian)
Aceh: Now for the Hard Part, Asia Briefing N°48, 29 March
Managing Tensions on the Timor-Leste/lndonesia Border,
Asia Briefing N°50, 4 May 2006
Terrorism in Indonesia: Noordin's Networks, Asia Report
N°l 14, 5 May 2006 (also available in Indonesian)
Islamic Law and Criminal Justice in Aceh, Asia Report
N°l 17, 31 July 2006 (also available in Indonesian)
Papua: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions, Asia Briefing N°53, 5 September 2006
Resolving Timor-Leste's Crisis, Asia Report N°120, 10 October 2006 (also available in Indonesian)
Aceh's Local Elections: The Role of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), Asia Briefing N°57, 29 November 2006
Myanmar: New Threats to Humanitarian Aid, Asia Briefing
N°58, 8 December 2006
Jihadism in Indonesia: Poso on the Edge,  Asia Report
N°127, 24 January 2007
Southern Thailand: The Impact of the Coup, Asia Report
N°129, 15 March 2007 (also available in Thai)
Indonesia: How GAM Won in Aceh , Asia Briefing N°61, 22
March 2007
Indonesia: Jemaah Islamiyah's Current Status, Asia Briefing N°63, 3 May 2007
Indonesia: Decentralisation and Local Power Struggles in
Maluku, Asia Briefing N°64, 22 May 2007
Timor-Leste's Parliamentary Elections, Asia Briefing N°65,
12 June 2007
Indonesian Papua: A Local Perspective on the Conflict, Asia
Briefing N°66, 19 July 2007 (also available in Indonesian)
Aceh: Post-Conflict Complications, Asia Report N°139, 4
October 2007 (also available in Indonesian)
Southern Thailand: The Problem with Paramilitaries, Asia
Report N°140, 23 October 2007 (also available in Thai)
"Deradicalisation" and Indonesian Prisons,  Asia Report
N°142, 19 November 2007
Timor-Leste: Security Sector Reform, Asia Report N°143, 17
January 2008 (also available in Tetum)
Indonesia: Tackling Radicalism in Poso, Asia Briefing N°75,
22 January 2008
Burma/Myanmar: After the Crackdown, Asia Report N°144,
31 January 2008
Indonesia: Jemaah Islamiyah''s Publishing Industry, Asia
Report N°147, 28 February 2008
Timor-Leste's Displacement Crisis, Asia Report N°148, 31
March 2008
The Philippines: Counter-insurgency vs. Counter-terrorism
in Mindanao, Asia Report N°152, 14 May 2008
Indonesia:   Communal  Tensions  in  Papua,  Asia Report
N°154, 16 June 2008
 Nepal's Election: A Peaceful Revolution?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°155, 3 July 2008
Page 27
Christopher Patten
Former European Commissioner for External Relations, Governor of Hong Kong
and UK Cabinet Minister: Chancellor of
Oxford University
Thomas Pickering
Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Russia, India, Israel, Jordan, El Salvador and
President & CEO
Gareth Evans
Former Foreign Minister of Australia
Executive Committee
Morton Abramowitz
Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State
and Ambassador to Turkey
Emma Bonino*
Former Minister of International Trade
and European Affairs of Italy and European
Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid
Cheryl Carolus
Former South African High Commissioner
to the UK and Secretary General ofthe ANC
Maria Livanos Cattaui
Former Secretary-General, International
Chamber of Commerce
Yoichi Funabashi
Editor-in-Chief & Columnist, The Asahi
Shimbun, Japan
Frank Giustra
Chairman, Endeavour Financial, Canada
Stephen Solarz
Former U.S. Congressman
George Soros
Chairman, Open Society Institute
Par Stenback
Former Foreign Minister of Finland
Adnan Abu-Odeh
Former Political Adviser to King Abdullah
II and to King Hussein and Jordan Permanent Representative to the UN
Kenneth Adelman
Former U.S. Ambassador and Director of
the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
Ali Alatas
Former Foreign Minister of Indonesia
HRH Prince Turki al-Faisal
Former Ambassador ofthe Kingdom of
Saudi Arabia to the U.S.; Chairman, King
Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic
Kofi Annan
Former Secretary-General ofthe United
Nations: Nobel Peace Prize (2001)
Louise Arbour
Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Chief Prosecutor for the
International Criminal Tribunals for the
former Yugoslavia and for Rwanda
Richard Armitage
Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State
Lord (Paddy) Ashdown
Former High Representative for Bosnia
and Herzegovina and Leader ofthe Liberal
Democrats, UK
Shlomo Ben-Ami
Former Foreign Minister of Israel
Lakhdar Brahimi
Former Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General and Algerian Foreign Minister
Zbigniew Brzezinski
Former U.S. National Security Advisor
to the President
Kim Campbell
Former Prime Minister of Canada
Naresh Chandra
Former Indian Cabinet Secretary and
Ambassador of India to the U.S.
Joaquim Alberto Chissano
Former President of Mozambique
Wesley Clark
Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Europe
Pat Cox
Former President of European Parliament
Uffe Ellemann-Jensen
Former Foreign Minister of Denmark
Mark Eyskens
Former Prime Minister of Belgium
Joschka Fischer
Former Foreign Minister of Germany
Yegor Gaidar
Former Prime Minister of Russia
Leslie H. Gelb
President Emeritus of Council on Foreign
Relations, U.S.
Carla Hills
Former Secretary of Housing and U.S.
Trade Representative
Lena Hjelm-Wallen
Former Deputy Prime Minister and
Foreign Affairs Minister, Sweden
Swanee Hunt
Chair, The Initiative for Inclusive Security:
President, Hunt Alternatives Fund: former
Ambassador U.S. to Austria
Anwar Ibrahim
Former Deputy Prime Minister of
Asma Jahangir
UN Special Rapporteur on the Freedom of
Religion or Belief: Chairperson, Human
Rights Commission of Pakistan
James V. Kimsey
Founder and Chairman Emeritus of
America Online, Inc. (AOL)
Wim Kok
Former Prime Minister of Netherlands
Aleksander Kwasniewski
Former President of Poland
Ricardo Lagos
Former President of Chile: President,
Club of Madrid
Joanne Leedom-Ackerman
Novelist and journalist, U.S.
Jessica Tuchman Mathews
President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Moises Nairn
Editor-in-chief Foreign Policy; former
Minister of Trade and Industry of Venezuela
Ayo Obe
Chair of Steering Committee of World
Movement for Democracy, Nigeria
Christine Ockrent
Journalist and author, France
Victor Pinchuk
Founder oflnterpipe Scientific and
Industrial Production Group
Samantha Power
Author and Professor, Kennedy School of
Government, Harvard University
Fidel V. Ramos
Former President of Philippines
Guler Sabanci
Chairperson, Sabanci Holding, Turkey
 Nepal's Election: A Peaceful Revolution?
Crisis Group Asia Report N°155, 3 July 2008
Page 28
Ghassan Salame
Former Minister, Lebanon; Professor of
International Relations, Paris
Thorvald Stoltenberg
Former Foreign Minister of Norway
Lawrence Summers
Former President, Harvard University;
Former U.S. Secretary ofthe Treasury
Ernesto Zedillo
Former President of Mexico; Director,
Yale Center for the Study of Globalization
Crisis Group's President's Council is a distinguished group of major individual and corporate donors providing
essential support, time and expertise to Crisis Group in delivering its core mission.
Khalid Alireza
BHP Billiton
Canaccord Adams Limited
Bob Cross
Equinox Partners
Frank Holmes
George Landegger
Iara Lee & George Gund III
Ford Nicholson
Ian Telfer
Guy Ullens de Schooten
Neil Woodyer
Don Xia
Crisis Group's International Advisory Council comprises
their advice and experience to Crisis Group on a regular
significant individual and corporate donors who contribute
Rita E. Hauser
Elliott Kulick
Marc Abramowitz
Hamza al Kholi
Anglo American PLC
APCO Worldwide Inc.
Ed Bachrach
Patrick Benzie
Stanley Bergman &
Edward Bergman
Harry Bookey and
Pamela Bass-Bookey
John Chapman Chester
Richard Cooper
Credit Suisse
Neil & Sandy DeFeo
John Ehara
Frontier Strategy Group
Seth Ginns
Alan Griffiths
Charlotte & Fred
Khaled Juffali
George Kellner
Amed Khan
Shiv Vikram Khemka
Scott Lawlor
Jean Manas
McKinsey & Company
Najib Mikati
Harriet Mouchly-Weiss
Donald Pels
Michael Riordan
StatoilHydro ASA
Tilleke & Gibbins
Yasuyo Yamazaki
Yapi Merkezi
Construction and
Industry Inc.
Shinji Yazaki
Sunny Yoon
Crisis Group's Senior Advisers are former Board Members (not presently holding national government executive office)
who maintain an association with Crisis Group, and whose advice and support are called on from time to time.
Martti Ahtisaari
(Chairman Emeritus)
Diego Arria
Paddy Ashdown
Zainab Bangura
Christoph Bertram
Jorge Castaneda
Alain Destexhe
Marika Fahlen
Stanley Fischer
Malcolm Fraser
Bronislaw Geremek
I.K. Gujral
Max Jakobson
Todung Mulya Lubis
Allan J. MacEachen
Barbara McDougall
Matthew McHugh
George J. Mitchell
(Chairman Emeritus)
Surin Pitsuwan
Cyril Ramaphosa
George Robertson
Michel Rocard
Volker Ruehe
Mohamed Sahnoun
Salim A. Salim
William Taylor
Leo Tindemans
Ed van Thijn
Shirley Williams
Grigory Yavlinski
Uta Zapf


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