One of the key tenets of democracy is that representatives chosen to govern the people are elected by people themselves.
In Nepal, Madhesis resorted to protests after the constitution dictated that the number of constituencies in a region would be determined on the basis of multiple factors- “geography, population, and provincial balance” (Article 88.a).
The Need For Amendment
This clause had multiple problems. First, it placed geography before population to determine the number of constituencies. By this definition, the people in a densely populated region matter less than the people in sparsely populated regions. This is against the spirit of democracy, equality, and human rights. Secondly, terms such as “provincial balance” is vague and may lead to potential gerrymandering. Thirdly, these three factor might contradict one another.
An amendment to Nepal’s constitution was passed on January 23, 2016 to remedy the clause regarding delineation of electoral constituencies in each federal state/province. The amendment reads,
For the amendment of Article 286 (5): The Constituency Delimitation Commission shall delimit the constituencies in every province keeping population-based representation as main basis and geography as secondary basis in accordance with the article 84, 1 (a). Every district in the provinces shall have at least one constituency.
What The Amendment Means
The term “provincial balance” was removed. Similarly, population was designated as the main basis and geography as the secondary basis. Thirdly, it was stipulated that each district shall have at least one constituency. Although the statements in the amendment is a major improvement to the original constitution, it has been interpreted in multiple ways, leading to some ambiguity and confusion about what it means to delimit constituencies using population as main basis and geography as secondary basis. The most important question before and after the amendment remains the same.
Of the 165 First Past The Post (FPTP) seats, how many will be allocated to each district and state based on the amendment?
The government of Nepal has not published any statistical details about how this clause should be interpreted. Advocate Dipendra Jha with assistance from Professor Krishna Hachhetu published a calculation that claimed “Terai Will Get 71 Seats, Not 80, Even After Amendment“. I performed an alternative calculation but numbers for states 3 and 5 differ. Perhaps different assumptions have been in these two separate calculations. My hope is that these calculations will lead to a constructive dialogue and a solution that matches with that of the Nepal government.
Number of Constituencies (By State)
The number of constituencies would be 71 and 79 according to Mr. Jha and my calculation respectively. The difference is of 8 seats. The discrepancy lies in states 3 and 5 which account for 5 seats. The remaining 3 seats differ in states 4 and 6 whose calculations have been excluded by Adv. Jha since his calculations relate to seats in Terai and these states do not have any districts in Terai.
|States||Population(2011)||Population(%)||Constituencies||Constituencies Based on Calcs by Dip Jha||Constituencies (%)|
According to my calculations, state 3 and 5 would get 33 and 25 seats respectively. According to Dip Jha’s calculations, state 3 and 5 would get 35 and 28 seats respectively. Note that Nawalparasi district is included in state 4 in my calculations but in state 5 in Dip Jha’s calculations. Since the state boundary divides this district into two, it could be included in either state 4 or 5 for rough calculation purposes. If Nawalparasi were included in state 5 in my calculation, the number of constituencies would be 29 instead of 25, close to 28 that Mr. Jha calculated. Regardless of the district that Nawalparasi is included in for calculations, the total number of constituencies in Terai remains unaffected.
Number of Constituencies (By Geographical Region)
Adv. Dip Jha claimed that Terai will only get 71 seats but according to my calculations, Terai should get 79 seats.
|Geographical Region||Population(2011)||Population(%)||Constituencies||Constituencies (%)|
Detailed Summary of Representatives (By State, District, Population)
Note that every district has at least one constituency so the second statement of the amendment is satisfied. The share of constituencies in each district is also proportional to the share of its population which satisfies a portion of the first statement. The confusion lies in, how does one determine the number of constituencies in each district by keeping geography as a secondary basis? What does it mean?
|States||Districts||Constituencies||Constituencies (%)||Population (2011 Census)||% of Population|
|State 1 Total||28||16.97%||4,534,943||17.12%|
|State 2 Total||33||20.00%||5,404,145||20.40%|
|State 3 Total||33||20.00%||5,529,452||20.87%|
|State 4 Total||19||11.52%||2,722,209||10.27%|
|State 5 Total||25||15.15%||4,336,203||16.37%|
|State 6 Total||11||6.67%||1,415,035||5.34%|
|State 7 Total||16||9.70%||2,552,517||9.63%|
My Method of Calculation:
- Divide the number of total constituencies among all districts on the basis of population first.
- Round off numbers from step 1 to whole numbers. Note that if numbers are not rounded up, calculations may produce varying results.
- Determine the districts that have less than one constituency – Dolpa, Humla, Manang, Mugu, Mustang, Rasuwa. Manually assign one constituency to these districts.
- Divide the remaining number of constituencies among the remaining districts (other than those in step 3) on the basis of population.
The calculations use assumptions which are based on interpretations of the amendment and since the amendment is worded vaguely, there are bound to be varying interpretations, assumptions and calculations. The matter of interest is, how does the government and judiciary interpret this amendment because that will have consequences on the number of constituencies in each district and state.
Any constructive feedback or suggestions to improve these calculations is welcome.
Dataset for your Use:
Number of Election Constituencies – Google Spreadsheet