Sample voting in Humla. Photo: Rajan Rawat

In the era of this highly politicized globe, there is a widely accepted statement that nothing is apolitical; neither health, faith and growth nor wealth. In democracy, election is the political role that every citizen is entitled to play. Election is defined as a formal and organized choice by vote of a person for a political office or other position. Besides, the process of choosing a person or a group of people for a position, especially a political position by voting. As such, election in its simplest form is a process to make decisions and select representatives.

The history of election traces back to ancient Greece and Rome whereas, in the context of Nepal, it is as old as the ancient period Kirat Dynasty. Also the Veda provides some insights into the way of selecting representatives. Mission of the election since centuries remains the same, but there have been changes in the process over time. So, with the passage of time, at the heart of election remains the process; more reformed and transparent. Eventually, whatever be the most acceptable definition of the election, it should involve educating voters, making them informed so that they can take informed decision on the choice of their representatives as they will be ruling the country.

Yes, while the ancient and classical election were limited to selecting the rulers, modern election is also a process, driven by hope, to have the needs and aspirations of the voters fulfilled during the mandated period. The modern history of election in Nepal began with the election of Kathmandu Municipality in BS 2004, Jestha. Eleven years later in BS 2015, Nepal had its first General election based on adult franchise that bestowed two third majority to the Nepali Congress in the House of Representatives that had 109 members.

The modern election, evolved with practice and learning, has been accepted as a system that ensures participation of the people in governance through the representatives they elect. Fairness in election process is considered as the best way to have a fair, accountable and representative parliament that remains accountable to the representative bod, in essence; encompassing values of democracy: fraternity, liberty and equality set by both French revolution and American democracy.

So, with the passage of time, at the heart of election remains the process; more reformed and transparent.

Fair election and democracy are interdependent and they complement each other. As stated by H. E. Fossdick democracy is based upon the conviction that there are extraordinary possibilities in ordinary people. To comply with the conviction, however, it is incredibly imperative that the citizens are fully informed and be able to cast vote without any greed, pressure and manipulation.

After all, the informed voters are expected to play important role in disseminating right information about the individual’s right and duty. For instance, if the voters be able to question the candidate about the commitment they made in the previous election campaign, leaders will not be able to undermine the voters. Candidates will have to be more careful while responding to or interacting with the people fully recognizing their intelligence and awareness level. That may prove to be a warning for the leaders against making tall promises and delivering far less.

As we have seen manifestoes that every party releases have become more of a ritual, aimed at befooling people. But in the long run, it only ends up discrediting politics and politicians. Wide gap between promise and delivery is directly proportional to the loss of credibility in our politics.

In a nutshell, election to the ordinary people is all about casting a vote to direct the future governance of the nation and as John Lewis states “the vote is precious. It is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democratic society, and we must use it”.