Like many other nations, Nepal struggles with systematic corruption in a number of fields, including politics. Public funding of elections is one option that is garnering considerable attention as the nation works to improve its democracy and encourage fairness in the electoral process. Nepal may adopt public funding of elections to ensure integrity in its electoral process if the proper circumstances and strong transparency and accountability procedures are in place.
In Nepal, politicians and political parties depend significantly on “private donations” to finance their campaigns, which often results in corruption and undue influence in the political system. It has been documented that exchanges have taken place for cabinet posts or even party nomination tickets, particularly for the proportional list. Elections that are “publicly financed”—that is, with money from the government given to qualified parties and candidates—can assist cut down on the need for private contributions while also leveling the playing field for all candidates. There are essential requirements that must be addressed for public funding of elections to be effective in Nepal, especially because taxpayers are footing the bill.
First, for public funding of elections to be implemented successfully, openness is a key component. Political parties and candidates must disclose all of their donations, outlays, and loans in full and make this information easily accessible to the public. Parties and candidates should be required to provide the election commission with comprehensive reports on their campaign expenditures, and this data should be made available to the public through a transparent and open website. This promotes confidence in the election process by ensuring that the use of public monies is open, responsible, and subject to inspection. Parties and candidates may be held responsible for their use of public money by ensuring openness in campaign financing, and the general public will gain knowledge of the origins and costs of political campaigns. This protects against corruption and improper influence while promoting openness in the voting process.
Second, parties should be required to uphold internal democracy and follow open guidelines for choosing candidates. Instead of party officials making choices on their own, one possible strategy may include local grassroots supporters choosing candidates via primaries. This supports fairness and integrity in the election process by ensuring that the opinions of regular party members are heard and that candidates are selected on the basis of competence rather than nepotism or favoritism. By decreasing the possibility of bribes and corruption and boosting public confidence in the political system, such measures encourage justice, honesty, and inclusion in the election process.
Adherence to constitutional requirements on proportional representation is a third crucial need. According to the constitution, the proportionate list of candidates should represent a balance of gender and/or ethnicity, and close relatives of central committee members shouldn’t be permitted. This lessens power concentration among a small number of families or groups and supports inclusion and diversity in the political process.
To guarantee accountability in the use of public money, parties that disregard these reporting obligations should suffer repercussions, such as being barred from receiving public funding.
Finally, it is crucial that parties get seed public financing depending on their affiliation with a party in order to create a fair playing field for all parties, large and small. This guarantees that political parties have a solid financial base upon which to run in elections and interact with people. However, a more equitable and progressive scale might be developed depending on the most recent election results in order to prevent the permanent domination of the winning party and to encourage justice in distribution. For instance, parties who do well in the polls could get more financing, but parties with smaller representation would get proportionally less. By promoting healthy competition and enabling a more equal allocation of public monies, this strategy would promote a dynamic political environment while preventing one party from amassing an undue financial advantage over rivals.
Nepal may also learn from other nations that have successfully developed transparent and accountable election funding systems. For instance, the Federal Election Commission in the US distributes matching money to presidential candidates who want to take part in the public financing scheme, and candidates are obliged to report their campaign spending. Similar to how many state legislatures in the US have acknowledged the significance of public funding of elections and have made major action to solve this problem. A number of governments have introduced or are contemplating introducing public funding schemes with the intention of minimizing the influence of money in politics and enhancing transparency and fairness in elections. For instance, states with effective public finance systems for state-level elections include Connecticut, Maine, and Arizona. These initiatives provide public funding to deserving applicants who fulfill certain requirements, such as collecting a certain volume of modest contributions. Such efforts serve as a reminder of how public funding of elections is becoming more necessary to increase the transparency and accountability of the political process. Similar systems exist in France, Germany, Brazil, and South Korea, where political parties and candidates must report their campaign money to the appropriate authorities after receiving public funding.
When combined with accountability and transparency measures, public funding of elections may help make the electoral process in Nepal more fair, inclusive, and transparent. Nepal can enhance its democracy and create political integrity by putting into practice policies like demanding full reporting of campaign spending, encouraging internal party democracy, enforcing proportional representation, and exposing campaign financing. Exploring cutting-edge mechanisms, such as public funding of elections, may pave the way for a more transparent and responsible political system that genuinely reflects the will of the people as the nation continues its path towards growth and prosperity.
More enthusiastic, qualified, honest, and educated professionals may join politics if stricter qualifications and competency standards are implemented, along with transparent and merit-based selection processes through primaries, as they will view it as a platform to serve the country rather than a way to make money. Additionally, providing financial incentives for elected officials who exhibit excellent governance and accountability, such as increased wages and perks, may help draw committed and honorable people into politics while deterring those who see it as a means of advancing their own financial interests.
I am optimistic that the failures and apathy seen in the current system can be addressed through the implementation of measures like public financing of elections, transparency, and accountability because I proposed a federal structure for Nepal with a mixed electoral system more than 20 years ago. Nepal can improve its electoral system and rebuild public confidence in democracy by increasing openness in campaign funding, guaranteeing accountability in candidate selection procedures, and implementing a fair and equitable distribution of public monies. For the prosperity of our country, it is essential that we draw lessons from the past and adopt changes that support justice, honesty, and inclusion in our democratic system. A publicly sponsored election system would reduce the motivation for corruption and unethical behavior, resulting in less frequent changes of administration and a more stable and responsible political environment in Nepal.
As with any constitution, it is crucial to understand that it is not a flawless document and may call for changes from time to time to meet evolving demands. In order to improve their democratic processes, many nations throughout the globe have learnt from their mistakes and improved their institutions over time. For instance, in order to rectify flaws, enhance representation, and reinforce democratic principles, nations like the United States, Canada, and Germany have undergone several constitutional modifications. The increasing social requirements and the knowledge gained from prior difficulties have often been the driving forces behind these improvements. To keep its electoral system strong, transparent, and accountable to the people it serves, Nepal may also benefit from an ongoing process of reflection and improvement. Nepal can fortify the democratic underpinnings of its government and create a better future for its people by adopting a culture of learning and growth.