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No, 70% of Nepalis did not vote in the rigged elections

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No, 70% of Nepalis did not vote in the rigged elections

In a related thread, Shubanga repeated a lie that is being spread by media outlets and reactionary states from Nepal, to India, to Britain, to even the United States. His narrative is as follows:

The last few days have been revolutionary for Nepal, though not in the manner the radical Maoists would prefer. Despite their efforts to derail the election process through bandhs (strikes) and sporadic bomb blasts (which disproportionately injured the children), Nepali people came out to vote in historic numbers. The turnout is greater than even the first CA election and I think this reflects as much support for a demorcatic process as it does the rejection of Baidhya Maoists' brand of narcissistic politics.

Did Nepalis really turn out for the polls "in record numbers?" Even greater than the first Constituent Assembly? The simple answer is: No. That is a lie. But this is certainly not a lie Shubhanga himself created. It is being spread all over the world. Even the BBC claims that "70%" of Nepalis voted, a higher percentage than voted in the post-2006 uprising elections.

So let's break it down:

Nepal is a society of 27 million people. Of that 27 million people, 12 million people registered to vote in the 2013 elections (compared to 17.6 million in 2008). "70%" of 12.21 million people is 8.54 million voters, therefore, 31% of Nepalis participated in these elections. Age can't possibly account for that low level of voter registration.

Compare these number to the CA elections of 2008: in those elections 17.6 million people registered to vote, and there was a turnout of 63.29%. Millions of people dropped out of these elections. The never registered to vote in the first place.

The real question is, why are so many powerful states and media institutions repeating this lie, over and over again? Is it, perhaps, because these rigged elections were a dramatic failure for their legitimacy? And they are forced to spread this lie to save face?




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People in this conversation

  • Guest - Dynamite

    And what about this : "sporadic bomb blasts (which disproportionately injured the children)" ?

  • As Eric has stated, there is scant evidence that the communists or their 33-party alliance were involved in such incidents. And as he goes on to state, shouldn't we be condemning the violent political repression of boycott supporters and CPN-M leaders - this is a country which has lauded the elections as thoroughly democratic and free (which just goes to showcase their hypocrisy, esp. when their legitimacy to rule is on the line here)

  • Guest - Shubhanga

    In reply to: Gorki

    As far as the blasts are concerned, there is some evidence to support Baidhya faction's complicity. Several people carrying IED preparation materials had CPN-Maoist membership. Most of the armed groups that eric talks about are based in Madhesh and have been relatively silent for some time now (as opposed to a few years back during the Madhesh revolution days.). Most of the blasts occurred in hilly areas and outskirts of Kathmandu. The Hindu (not Hindi) fundamentalists have mostly welcomed elections as they were certain to get increased support, as they unfortunately appear to have. One would hope that some kind of investigations would follow, but given the way the events are unfolding, 'legal niceties' (as Maoists like to call them) like these might disappear from the national agenda.

  • Guest - Tulsi

    In reply to: Gorki

    Scant evidence? As someone who lives 100 metres away from Bhote Bahal, where 8-year old Samir Khadgi lost his hand, the whole community has been repeatedly saying that they have enough evidence to prosecute the guilty Maoist cadrers, but the state is too busy counting ballots at the moment to pay attention to this. Any decision taken now will in all likelihood be covered up by whichever party or alliance leads the next government.

  • Dynamite:

    The CPN-Maoist has condemed those attacks just like everyone else. There are dozens of armed groups in Nepal, from Hindi fundamentalists to Madhesi groups, and more. The Nepali media has decided to claim that these events were carried out by the CPN-M with no evidence.

    And actually, it is notable, the enforcement of the general strike seems to have been less violent than the big three parties hacking each other up with khukuris during the elections themselves. *shrugs*

  • Guest - Shubhanga

    In reply to: eric ribellarsi

    When I mentioned the 70% figure, I had no intent to confuse the readers. This is a preliminary figure given by the election commission and gives an indication of healthy turnout, given the atmosphere of fear and doubt.

  • And furthermore, I would turn the question back to you: what about the arresting of hundreds of paritcipants in the boycotts, including at least 50 leaders of the CPN-M? Why don't you condemn that violence? And by the way, which explsive materials were ever found during the raids of the CPN-M homes, conducted in the dead of the night with no warrants? None.

  • Guest - Sarahana Shrestha

    Nowhere in the BBC articles does it say "70% of Nepalis voted" — what it says is the turnout was 70%, and the turnout is always a percentage of the figure eligible to vote, which in this case was 12 million.

  • Sarahana,
    Let's look at what the BBC article claims:

    "Officials said turnout was 70% and voting largely peaceful... The Election Commission said record numbers had cast ballots, with preliminary estimates suggesting turnout was about 70%. That compares with 60% in 2008."

    Record numbers? This is obviously a slight of hand. At the 70% number, 3 mllion less people voted in the elections. I understand that the actual turnout percentage is now being lowered to 65% in several media outlets, making the turnout even less.

    There is nothing "record" about these elections besides how abyssmally hated and undemocratic they were. 5 million people who registered to vote last time didn't this time. And they are using absurd figures like "70%" to hide that.

  • Guest - Shubhanga

    In reply to: eric ribellarsi

    There was a decrease in total turnout from the last time. This is not surprising since the first CA (not the first CA election) was not a big success. Only as back as August, people doubted if election could be held but the mood was one of hopeless optimism. The numbers are surprising exactly because even though a visible political power was violently against it, people came in good numbers. Recall that there had never been a banda(strike) around any elections before. Many people left cities even during bandas in huge numbers to go back to home for the voting (with security forces escorting them, or as CPM-Maoists probably claim, forcing them). Unlike last CA elections, the cadre movement was not as significant. Anyone who has been in Kathmandu during Dashain/Tihar (big Hindu festivities) is familiar with those loose, empty streets. Election day was pretty much the same. The increased presence of women voters was notable. Of course, UCPM is now claiming that the voting was rigged so we can expect paranoia and conspiracies to marr the facts.

    If one wants to know who are the most hated and undemocratic elements of Nepali politics , a short trip ranging from Kapan's ( a booming urban suburb) tiny corner tea shop to Himalayan Java Cafe ( a bourgeois - bohemian hangout) might be of some help. The voting results, too, might come handy. It is plain absurd to call the elections undemocratic just because one might disagree with the results. I rather find my grandfather's (a Congress student leader in 50's though now a stauch UCPM supported) attitude to the results refreshing and revealing when he dismisses, with laconic disappointment, the " sheeps' " verdict.

  • Guest - Shubhanga

    In reply to: eric ribellarsi

    Edit : "There was a decrease in total number/attendence , not turnout."

  • Guest - Linda Jenkins

    It would be so helpful for the discussion if primary sources could be cited for every factual statement. I don't consider the BBC a primary source, since it is a corporation and not a person. Nepal's natural resources (water & hydro power at minimum) and strategic location appear to me to be logical sources of competition (source: my brain), so it would be interesting to know how that competition bears on elections.

  • Guest - Dynamite

    "Why don't you condemn that violence?"
    I do.
    I just didn't have read lot about Nepal recently so thanks for information about this. It wasn't an accusation, I just wanted more precisions.

  • Guest - Jitan

    This is really goofy logic. No sources for one. Like where does he get the 17.6 million number for the last election from? I went to the UN's demographic site and I added up all the voting cohorts and got 15,047,273 for 2011. Now multiple that by 1.02 then multiple that number by 1.02 and today there should be ~15,655,182 eligible voters. Seems like he was multiplying the current population by 10%+ for some weird reason to get his 2008 number. And no idea why he's saying it's a surprisingly old population. He must of saw their average out of context and thought "Wow, that's older than I'd think" but the median age for Nepal is 22.4 according to the CIA worldfactbook. Which makes it substantially younger than the industrialized countries and noticeably younger than most of north Africa, west Asia and India but puts it at the same age as Iraq, Haiti, and Pakistan. So we take the UN population total of 26,494,504 increase it by 2% twice (Going from 2011 to 2013) and get a total population of 27,564,882. Now using some of his numbers 12,210,000 people registered to vote so 46% of the total population and 81% of the population old enough to vote. That's a pretty damn high number. So only 8,547,000 voted giving us 70% of registered voters, 56% of legal voters, and, probably because I am using his numbers at this point, 31% of the entire population. But that's a goofy number to go by because no one is going to let 1-12 year olds vote and letting 12-16 year olds vote is almost as unlikely. True 56% of all voters seems a bit small but Chavez won with 56% of registered voters in 2000.

    Writing up a bad post like this doesn't help anything. What should be looked at is: who are the 81% who have registered to vote, who are the 70% that actually voted, is there a base to be built among the 19% who never registered and the 30% of registered voters who didn't vote? How many of the voters voted because the party wasn't able to communicate with them properly? There's dozens of more interesting and useful questions which be asked instead of using bad statistics to dismiss an obviously rigged election.

  • Guest - Sophee Gurung

    The move is not too startling coming from a party that has never played by the rules of democracy. But after dragging the nation through a decade long bloody war, the least the Maoists could have done was to respect the mandate of the people and wait for the final results before going around crying conspiracy.
    From their years in the jungle to their time in mainstream politics, the Maoists have not changed their spots. They are still blackmailing, bullying, and threatening rivals into submission. In the audio tape( that was leaked two days before polls, Dahal at a close-door election meeting in Kirtipur goads cadres to use flattery, bribery, aggression, and polarisation, so that the party wins at any cost.
    Unsurprisingly, Maoists were accused of attacking members of opposition parties and capturing polling booths in Dolakha-1 and Gorkha-1 where Baburam Bhattarai was running. Given the revelations of the Kirtipur tape, these were serious allegations that needed to be thoroughly investigated. Instead, the district election office dismissed them as ‘minor incidents’ and claimed that voting was fair, free, and peaceful.
    Despite extensive electoral fraud, voter suppression, and use of violence during 2008 elections, the Maoists were given a clean chit by rival parties, the EC, and international observers because they were afraid to ‘derail’ the peace process. This time too, the party did everything in its power to skew the playing field in its favor and yet it is now on the verge of a crushing defeat.
    Part of the loss can be accounted by the breakup of the party which split the Maoist vote and took away key candidates. The strike and acts of violence unleashed by Mohan Baidya’s hardline faction didn’t do Prachanda and co any good either.
    However, the low tally of votes for Maoist candidates was a way for Nepalis to tell their former leaders that enough is enough. In the past decade, the public has overlooked the loss of 16,000 lives, the plundering of funds meant for the upkeep of ex-guerrillas in the cantonments, and the dangerous political brinkmanship that Maoist politicians engaged in on the CA floor, all in the name of peace. But no more.

  • Guest - jj

    In reply to: Guest - Sophee Gurung

    bla bla bla
    So many words for what? Why did you not just said: Long live the king, and the oppression of the people.

    I'm not even Maoist, but read "a party that has never played by the rules of democracy"..."after dragging the nation through a decade long bloody war"
    When you had not democracy, at all, is a bit scandalous

  • Guest - Erik Andersson

    The pro India site South Asia Analysis Group says " 3. In the last elections there were 17.6 million voters and this has been drastically reduced to 12,147,665 voters this time. The steep drop this time is said to be the result of EC adopting the biometric voter registration system to avoid duplication." That can means two tings: in the elections 2008 it was 5,5 million double voters or that the boycottcampain from the 33 party-alliance had led to 5,5 million less voters.

  • Guest - don

    boy, the kasama project got nepal badly wrong. the impression i get is that the ucpn maoist got their butts kicked in the election, and the cpn maoist could not stop the election and seem to be floundering about whether or not to join the CA. Kasama have been doing this 'revolution round the corner' thing for a long time. it is a bit unbelievable. my question for the kasamites is this- do you really believe or have any real proof that there is a revolutionary movement in Nepal at all?

  • Guest - bm

    Ten years of people's war, the overthrowing of a hindu monarchy, the first constituent assembly in Nepal's history, the rapid and enduring expansion of women's social agency (through political and economic changes), the affirmation of the majority of the population (repeatedly) for socialism and communism...

    Is there a deeply corrupt political class holding sway in Kathmandu? Yes.

    Does the political class in Kathmandu have any legitimacy outside its payroll? No.

    Is Nepal in the midst of real, historic changes — Absolutely.

    Those who want Jesus to come will always be surprised when he doesn't.

  • Guest - jp

    bm is correct of course; his brief outline says it all. what's happened in nepal is huge - it's just been betrayed. can't or won't see that?
    but that is not the end of history. what's next?
    i have seen some nepal analysis for which 'democratic elections' are that end of history [echoing the small minds of the ruling classes]. yet people have a right to liberate themselves from bondage whether or not they constitute a voting block with some kind of power. it's that liberation that we seek, not a process by which people can get shafted under cover of a 'democratic election. '
    although history shows that when jesus does not come you don't get surprise; just reinterpretation.

  • Guest - don

    bm has said nothing. assertions are not an argument. sorry. is there any proof whatosever of what bm asserts? if so what? how does bm know that the political class has no legitimacy outside kathmandu? easy to say, hard to prove. are there really historical changes going on in Nepal? i doubt it, and kasama cannot give any evidence. no point in shouting each other down. i can see by the responses that kasama does not really have any clear idea about what is happening in Nepal but i think kasama cannot say ' boy' we got it badly wrong'. as they say, if you are in a hole, stop digging. thats all i have to say. thanx

  • Guest - Ayush

    The second CA election was undoubtedly the fairest election in Nepal's history. Eric Ribellarsi doubts the authenticity of the votes based on the decline in the number of registered voters this time around. What he fails to recognize however, is the mass exodus of Nepali adults to the Middle East, South East Asia and the West in the last six years to the tune of about 1500-2000 a day, and that is the official count from the foreign employment office. The unofficial count may be much higher. The official remittance has gone up from being about ~100 billion rupees in 2008 to about ~500 billion in recent times. Obviously the data here is telling, especially since there has been little upward revision in the salaries of Nepalese workers in the labor destinations for the Middle East and Malaysia.

    Nepal's population is 27 million, 5 million of which are in absentia. The median age is about 22, the adult population is about 60% of the total population. (27-5)*0.6=13.2 million a figure that is pretty close to 12.1 million (the official voter count).

    There you go :)

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