Democracy is not built in a day. Yet, young democracies often face great expectations right after political transitions. While people expect immediate improvements in their daily lives, systemic changes in political systems need time to take root. For a successful consolidation – as Friedrich Ebert once put it – ‘democracy needs democrats’, and it also needs continuous commitment and nourishment.
Democratisation and consolidation processes are always embedded in specific economic, political, social and cultural contexts and are shaped by its citizens. Thus, there is no single recipe for success. Multiple factors and actors influence the outcome, among these: How actors manage the political process, how the rule of law is implemented and how issues related to human rights, inclusion and exclusion are addressed. Moreover, the role of political actors, non-political and technocratic elites, members of civil society, and the media can heavily impact these processes.
Nepal has a 70-year-long history of struggling for democracy and has accomplished many hard-won victories on the way. Navigating through various political instabilities, Nepal promulgated a new constitution in 2015 which made way for a new governance system under a federal structure. Although new structures are in place and Nepal’s political outlook is more inclusive than ever, there are still issues to be addressed to sustain democracy. And while the faith of Nepalese citizens in democracy is high, Nepal’s successful democratic consolidation will depend on internal politics, the handling of external relations, the restructuring of the economy, and on how fault lines are addressed to ensure justice for all.
Against this background and building on its long-standing civic education program, FES Nepal set out to explore various aspects of Nepal’s journey to democracy and ways to further strengthen it. The edited volume addresses key issues in regard to democratic consolidation like the peace process, constitutional developments, the role of political parties as well as those of interest groups and the media, inclusion, regional dynamics, external democracy support, digitalization and changing dynamics of political and social life.
The contributions offer diverse perspectives on the state of Nepal’s democracy and will hopefully support future discussions on democratic consolidation in the country.