The Nepali Congress has emerged as the single-largest party in last month’s general election, with incumbent Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba set to stay for a sixth term.
According to a tally of results from the Election Commission, declared on Wednesday, the ruling party won 89 seats in the 275-member parliament.
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The formation of a new government could take days as a five-party alliance, led by the Nepali Congress, secured 136 seats in the parliament, short of two seats to get a 138 majority.
The alliance that has been in power since July last year said they had sought the support of some new legislators and parties to reach the necessary majority.
The spokesman for the Nepali Congress, Prakaksh Sharan Mahat, said the head of the newly formed Janamat Party, C K Raut, met with Deuba, aged 76, and pledged support for a new government. Mahat’s party has won six seats in the parliament.
“I have no doubt he will be the prime minister of the new government,” Mahat said, referring to Deuba.
The Nepal Communist Unified Marxist Leninist Party (UML), led by Deuba’s main rival, K P Sharma Oli, has won 92 seats.
The prime minister is chosen with the support of at least half the total number of parliament members.
Deuba, considered close to India, is in a better position to muster support for a majority, analysts said.
Strategic and economic interests with neighbouring China and India were one of the main key issues in Nepal’s national elections. The UML is considered closer to China.
Nepal’s lower house has a total of 275 members, out of which 165 are directly elected and the remaining 110 are chosen by the political parties, with seats allocated in proportion to the votes they get.
“The present ruling alliance is most likely to form a new government because it needs the support of only a few members which could be easily won,” said Krishna Khanal, a retired professor of political science at the Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu.
Nepal has had 10 different governments since 2008 when it abolished a 239-year-old monarchy. Since then the Nepali Congress, UML and the Maoist Centre have emerged as ruling parties but none has served a full five-year term due to power struggles and infighting.
The November 20 elections witnessed a new wave of youngsters challenging the hegemony of the old guard of Nepali politics, with a handful of them winning and many others securing substantial votes.
Analysts said the victory of younger candidates is a sign of voter frustration with the old parties.
Younger politicians are also seeking to make their mark within the established parties.
Gagan Thapa, a young legislator from Deuba’s party, has pledged to challenge Deuba when the party deputies elect the prime minister.
Election results for the seven provincial assemblies, which were held along with parliamentary elections, showed that no party had gotten a clear majority.
Party officials said leaders will work out alliances in all provinces.