The Challenge to Democracy in Nepal: A Political History

The Challenge to Democracy in Nepal: A Political History

The Challenge to Democracy in Nepal: A Political History

The Challenge to Democracy in Nepal: A Political History

Synopsis

In 1990 Nepal's Peoples Movement reduced King Birendra from an absolute ruler to a constitutional monarch. This book is the first academic analysis of these events and places the 'revolution' of 1990 within the context of Nepali history.
Louise Brown examines the background to Nepal's recent upheavals as well as covering the country's ealy history and its continuing problems of national integration. The previous, unsuccessful, democratic experiment and the nature of monarchical rule are discussed within an analysis of Nepal's social and economic modernisation. The evolution of political parties, Nepal's foreign relations and development issues - and the way in which these have moulded the political system - are explored in depth.
Drawing on extensive interviews with leading politicians and influential figures the author provides a comprehensive survey of the Himalayan Kingdom's political development. This is an original contribution to the debate on democratization in the developing world.

Excerpt

The collapse of communist regimes in eastern Europe and the end of the Cold War have regenerated debate about the conditions for, and the merits of, democratisation, especially in Asia, where communist regimes have survived. That debate has tended to engage and centre on states where significant economic achievement and attendant social changes have found expression in demands for greater political participation, whether accommodated or not. the impoverished and socially conservative Himalayan kingdom of Nepal does not conform to this pattern. and yet, it has not only undergone a process of democratic political change, but is ruled by a communist government that came to power through the vehicle of the ballot box and not by violent revolution.

At issue in this comprehensive and illuminating study of the course and nature of political change in Nepal is how that political change has come about and also to what extent it represents a change of form rather than substance. Louise Brown addresses these questions through a close examination of field research within a kingdom that is described as an intriguing anomaly in the post-Cold War world. of particular value is her direct observation of the popular movement Jana Andolan, which was responsible for bringing three decades of monarchical rule to an end in 1990, but which then failed to match its initial promise with economic and political accomplishment. She concludes soberly that there has not been a clear break with the past as a result of the initial success of the Jana Andolan, and that Nepali society and politics have changed little in substance in the past century. the legitimacy of democracy in Nepal is said to be tenuous because of the economic failings of its political beneficiaries and because of the factional character of its political parties. Louise Brown concludes pessimistically that the life of democracy in Nepal could prove to be remarkably short. in that context, this study of the substance of political change in

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