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The demographic make-up of Nepal’s parliament does not mirror the population of Nepal. Khas Arya make up 45 percent of Parliament, while they make up 31.2 percent of the population of Nepal. On the other end, Dalits, who are 13.8 percent of Nepal’s population, have 8 percent representation in Parliament. Women are roughly half of Nepal’s population, while only 33 percent of Members of Parliament (MPs) are women.
Nepal’s Parliament is made up 334 MPs, distributed between the House of Representatives (HoR) and the National Assembly. The National Assembly has 59 members, among whom 8 members are elected by an electoral college in each of the seven provinces, and 3 are appointed by the President through recommendation of the government. For the House of Representatives, of the 275 seats, the legal provision is to have 60 percent (165) directly elected and 40 percent (110) proportional seats. The House of Representatives Election Law 2074 has quota seats for seven clusters: Women, Madhesi, Muslim, Dalit, Adibasi Janajati, Tharu and Khas Arya.
In the House of Representatives (HoR), Khas Arya share of representation is 11 percent more than their share of population. Madhesis are represented more than their share of population by 3 percent. Dalits have the poorest representation in the House of Representatives, having only half as much representation as their share of the population.
If the constitution had not set aside seats for women, they would have had negligible representation in the House of Representatives. There were 6 women directly elected to the House of Representatives, which amounts to only 3 percent of the directly elected MPs of the HoR. There were no Madhesi or Dalit women among those six.
Of the MPs selected for the Parliament, by law, one third of them (112) need to be women. To meet the 33 percent women's quota, the parties then filled their PR list with women candidates. As a result, in the Proportional section of the House of Representatives, there are 85 women (77 percent of the PR).
Analyzing the various parties in the House of Representatives shows that Khas-Arya, Madhesi Yadav and Terai Brahmin Chhetri are represented more than their share of the population. Other gaps in representation: the Rastriya Janata Party-Nepal (RJP-N) has not represented a single Janajati MP in the HoR, and the Sanghiya Samajbadi Forum Nepal (SSF-N) has not represented a single Tharu in the HoR.
In the National Assembly, meanwhile, 55 percent of the MPs are Khas Arya, 22 percent are Adibasi Janajati, 8.4 percent Madhesi, 1.6 percent Tharu and 11.8 percent Dalit. There are no Muslim MPs in the National Assembly. There are 22 women MPs in the National Assembly, making up 37 percent. The three government-nominated members of the National Assembly are Khas Arya (two men and one woman).
Party and ethnicity analysis of the House of Representatives
Both Khas Arya and Madhesi communities have greater representation in the HoR than their share of the population (11 percent and 3 percent more, respectively). Another cluster that is very close to parity is the Tharu community, who make up 6.6 percent of Nepal's population, and have 5.8 percent representation in the House of Representatives. The comparatively higher representation of Madhesis and Tharus (in proportion to their population, and in relation to other non-Khas Arya demographics) appears correlated to the fact that both communities had staunch participation in political struggle for their rights.
When comparing the representation of ethnic clusters across parties in the directly elected and the PR categories of the House of Representatives, minority groups appear more on the PR side. UML, Maoists and Nepali Congress have given preference to Khas Arya candidates in the directly elected category, and to compensate for the under-representation of other groups, they have put other cluster groups in the PR lists. UML is the most significant party through which Khas Arya have high representation in the House of Representatives; of all the Khas Arya MPs in the HoR, 55 percent are from UML alone.
The party to represent the most Madhesis in the House of Representatives is the SSF-N. Of the total House of Representatives members of the SSF, 62 percent are Madhesis. In the House of Representatives, the UML has the lowest share of Madhesis, at 5 percent. Among Maoist MPs of the HoR, 15 percent are Madhesis, among Nepali Congress, 17 percent and among RJP-N, 58 percent. Yadavs make up 4 percent of the population of Nepal and have 6 percent representation in the House of Representatives. Terai Brahmin Chhetris make up 0.83 percent of the population, but have 4 percent representation in the HoR. While Madhesi representation within the parties varies given the size and make-up of each party, when comparing the party affiliation of all Madhesi MPs in the HoR, they appear evenly distributed among all the parties.
Muslims are close to parity in the House of Representatives; making up 4 percent of Nepal's population, they make up 3 percent of the HoR. Of the Nepali Congress's 63 HoR MPs, 3 are Muslim, the highest number from any one party. In terms of percentage, however, the SSF-N has the most representation in-party; 2 (12 percent) of their 16 HoR MPs are Muslim. The lowest representation is from the UML; only 2 of their 121 HoR MPs, or 1.7 percent, are Muslim. With 1 Muslim MP out of 53, the Maoists have 1.9 percent representation of Muslims among their HoR MPs.
The community with the lowest representation in the House of Representatives is the Dalit community. While the Dalit make up 13.8 percent of the total population of Nepal, in the House of Representatives, they make up 7 percent, or 20 representatives. Out of these 20 Dalits, only two are Madhesi Dalits, and these are from the SSF-N and RJP-N.
In the House of Representatives, the party to have the most representation of Dalits is the Nepali Congress, with 9.5 percent of their HoR MPs being Dalit, while the lowest in-party representation is from Maoists-Center, with 5.7 percent. The largest party of the country, UML has 7.4 percent. Both SSF and RJP have 6 percent each.
Of the total population of Nepal, Adivasi Janajatis make up 28 percent. Their representation in the House of Representatives is 24 percent. The UML has 25 percent and Maoists have 26 percent Adibasi Janajatis each among their MPs in the HoR, while the NC has 21 percent and SSF-N has 13 percent. In terms of numbers, UML has the most Adibasi Janajatis in HoR, with 30 MPs. The RJP-N is the one party without a single Adibasi Janajati representative.
While Adibasi Janajatis are under-represented in the HoR as a group, among them, Newa have higher representation than others in their cluster. Of the 65 Adivasi Janajatis from the various parties, Newa make up ¼, or 13 MPs, and make up 5 percent of the House of Representatives, which is in proportion to their share of Nepal's population.
Tharus are close to parity in terms of their representation in comparison to their population share. The most representation of Thaus is in the RJP, at 17.6 percent of their HoR representatives, and the lowest is in the UML with 3.3 percent, while Congress has 9 percent and Maoists 5 percent. The SSF-N has no Tharu representatives.
The party to represent the most Khas Arya is the UML, with 55 percent (66 MPs) of their HoR members being Khas Arya. The least representation of Khas Arya is through the SSF-N, with only one Khas Arya MP, making up 6.3 percent of their party MPs. After UML, the Maoists have the most Khas Arya in their group, at 54 percent, and Congress at 38 percent.
Among Khas-Arya, Pahadi Brahmins have 12 percent share of the population of Nepal, while they have 22 percent representation in the HoR. Pahadi Chhetri have 16 percent of the share of population, and 18 percent representation.
While all parties have around 33 percent women each, the party with the most representation of women is Nepali Congress, with 37 percent women MPs. However, they did not have a single woman candidate in their directly elected category. All parties have followed the same pattern of giving preference to male candidates in the directly elected section of the HoR, and then placing women in the PR list to compensate.
The final picture that emerges of Parliament is one that is male and Khas Arya dominated. While affirmative action seats have allowed the marginalized to gain a foothold, the parties have only done the bare minimum, and sometimes even flouted the rules, as a result of which, Parliament is still not representative of Nepal’s ethnic diversity. For comparison, in the second Constituent Assembly, Khas Arya had 42 percent representation, Janajatis and Tharus (placed in the same cluster previously) had 31 percent, Madhesis and Marwadis (at the time considered two clusters) had a combined 15.6 percent, Muslims had 3.2 percent, and Dalits 7 percent. Political struggle has allowed the Madhesis and Tharus to have greater representation than in past governments, but women and Dalits have a long way to go before reaching parity.
All charts by Supriya Manandhar.
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