✍  Ajay kumar Yadav

The prime minister of Newzealand, Jacinda  Ardren, is just 39 and world’s female leader. Tony Blair and David Cameron both became prime minister at the stately age of 43. Emmanuel macron ,  41 is now the president of France . The average life expectancy of a political party , globally is just 43 years , as voters grow tired of decrepit political parties, such parties are embracing new blood and empowering it , to survive .

In comparision , in Nepal political parties seems frozen , preferring to continue with their allegiance to seniority and hierarchy .Parliament of Nepal has just 1 mp below the 30 . While the average age of mp was typically above 50 .

Some carriers begins at 55

As our population continues to grow younger ( our median age is 25) , our parliament continues to grow older . political leaders reaching an  age beyond retirement continue to hold on to power vanaprastha .

Mean while , others seek to hold on to a seat until their progeny is ready to take it . A consequence of this is that most political parties in Nepal have become family business . Political empowerment , it seems is the domain of the elderly .

There are always exceptions with some young leaders promoted to positions of responsibility . However , these are far  and few , and in most cases , primarily due to political legacy .

And its not that political parties don’t seek the membership of young Nepalese .Most major political parties have youth and student wings. But their growth , in politics is seemingly capped . While the adoption of an informal age of 70 for politicians to retire in some political parties is a most welcome development , much more needs to be done .

Youth participation in politics for now , is dependent on wealth , legacy and connections . There are other ways to empower young , aspiring individuals . Serbia ran a multi- year 500 young political leaders programme  which sought to foster youth political participation by identifying and selecting youth leaders to rebuild democracy in the country . The programme sough to provide political training for young leaders from various background while developing a network of youth leaders who could develop policy solutions across party lines and opening establishment doors .

Reservation for youth ?

Structural intervention can help as well . A number of countries like Morcco ,  Pakistan , Kenya and Ecuador set aside seat in their legislature  for youth leaders . After the retirement of all , if reservation can be provided to a range of ethnicities and caste – based groups , why not for the youth ?

 Countries like Ecuador , EL salvador , Senegal , Uganda and Burundi have lowered the minimum age for candidacy in all legislative election to 18 . In Bosnia if no candidate receives a majority or win in the election . Article 13.7 of its election law awards the seat to the youngest candidate .

Our political structure ideally should offer multiple avenues for political empowerment . Municipal and panchayat polls should give rise to leaders who have experience at the ground level . Such leaders , after some experience should be able to run for state and eventually the centre legislative seat . After  all this is now leaders are found in healthy democracy .

However , the decline in inner –party democracy , raising campaign spending and rotational reservation in municipal , panchayat and mayoral elections , have created barriers to upward movement for aspiring youth politicians . Political parties need to actively consider reservation for aspiring youth from non – political backgrounds in certain positions , along with rolling out initiatives to induct professionals into mainstream politics .

Younger politicians understand what a youthful Nepalese needs and what their aspirations are. Political parties should be encouraged to provide space for such leader to grow on merit .

The author yadav is a law student.

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