We are going to have the first local elections in 20 years. The last local elections were held in 1997. The country is already beginning to live the madness of the electoral campaign that will lead to the parliamentary elections next year. In a democracy, everybody lives through decisive moments during elections. The voting is one of the acts of great social responsibility of the citizens since they elect the politicians who are going to govern the country for a few years, which in turn will mark the future of the society.
It is very crucial to understand if we are truly aware of its meaning? Are citizens educated to be responsible when casting such a decisive vote? An electoral process is a reflection of the existing political system. It is usually assumed that the citizens in a democratic society have a civil duty to participate in the processes of collective self-government. Often this responsibility is expressed in the vote. In a democratic society, it is understood that the vote is always a good thing for the citizens regardless of how they vote.
Election fervor is filled with the euphoria of the followers, some paid, others out of sympathy and many others indifferent and uncertain. The electoral campaign in Nepal is full of lies, manipulations, false promises, violence, abuse of power, tragedies and uncertainty and also affronts of the intelligence of the voters.
However, the election is much more than choosing the candidates. They constitute a source of legitimating for public authorities. Its political and social importance is so decisive that only a government that emerges from free and universal elections is recognized as legitimate and democratic.
There is no democracy without elections and without open competition for power between social forces and political groups. For parties and political candidates, distorting, contaminating, vitiating and corrupting practice is not alien during elections. The electoral processes in our country have become morally degraded. The degradation has led to such extreme levels that many political parties have teamed up with other parties and leaders to encourage and carry out shady and immoral election cheats and tricks. The result gives rise to the election of bad representatives and bad governments.
Voting is not an ethically trivial act. It is not choosing the clothes that one puts in the morning or deciding the food on a menu. Voting is not individual property but a common heritage that demands for good reasons to be based on the decision from voters. By voting, we can improve or worsen the government and consequently benefit or harm people and sociality. Voting is not an obligation but whoever does it must understand the responsibility of their decision. To vote for the right people is to vote for policies that the voter considers to be for common good. We should not vote with ignorance, irrational and immoral beliefs.
The emergent democratic system in Nepal invites us to reflect on its most basic foundation of citizen participation. It is this element that the members of a community exteriorize, protest and evaluate their relationship with their authorities. Undoubtedly, one of the key pieces of citizen participation is the vote, which has become the object of innumerable conflicts of political and economic interests. Lack of motivation generated by the political practices themselves, political parties and candidates leads to the citizens distorting the true meaning of the vote.
Voting is a fundamental instrument in the construction of an increasingly participative and inclusive democracy. Every citizen should know his constitutional rights and duties. The voter also must remember the responsibility he/she has while choosing the candidate. It is often overlooked as to how political decisions interfere with and affect our day-to-day life.
The ethical vote guarantees better decision-making. In these upcoming elections, we should choose honest, responsible and transparent candidates. We should avoid brazen, corrupt, dishonest, and immoral candidates. This is the precise moment to reward them or to punish them with our vote.
Ambition is legitimate in the private as well as the public sphere. Personal ambition in politics is a poison. Political morality begins by recognizing and identifying power itself. Power is prostituted when political abuse of power happens. It is used and abused for the pleasures and benefits of those who exercise it. Let's defend, protest, denounce the bad politician for the common good. Vote wisely to elect good leaders to clean Nepalese politics.
Nepalese political spectrum has changed remarkably by leading to the division of political parties along ethnic lines in the name of federalism. During these elections, the country will face the dilemma between "ethnic vote" and "national vote”. When people end up voting incorrectly, it is usually because they made assumptions based on little information and/or faulty impressions. Remember your vote will reflect your belief.
Leadership can be infinitely complex but a useful tactic is to assess the potential elected officials on three broad criteria: Competence, Character, and Connectivity. Besides these three elements, you can add your personal judgment about what matters to you the most.
When you try to choose the right candidate there is no "right" answer to all the questions you will have. It is more a matter of using the available information to determine which candidate will best represent and is important to you.
It is really a difficult choice to vote for a political party regardless of morals and ethics or vote for the one who has morals and ethics regardless of the political party.
Have you ever thought about the moral values of every candidate who asks for your vote? Is it ethical? All of this power that we give through voting has weight and importance in our lives. Do you think their decisions do not and will not affect you?
Vote right! Vote for the candidate you researched, verified and what he or she can do for the society, the city, town or village you live in, your region and the whole country.
The success of these elections will mean change and well-being for the people. An error will bring misfortunes and disasters to the people. Voting is an instrument of power of the people. Not voting for bad, perverse and corrupt candidates is a matter of conscience. Also in politics, the good is rewarded and evil is punished. It is indisputable that ethics serves to win elections. Let's make the upcoming elections a true civic and democratic event based on truth, justice, and morality! At the end, Ethical Vote Enriches the Country and Strengthens Democracy.
(The author is Lecturer and IT consultant. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.)