Germany and Nepal. Two countries. 6,698.03 kilometers apart. One is among the top 5 economies in the world, and the other is one of the poorest in Asia. But one similarity outshines all the other ones: both are going into elections. Almost everyone in Germany and Nepal knows about the elections in their own home country – but few know about the ones in the other country half the world away. What unites Nepal and Germany when facing elections, what are differences and struggles?
When will the elections take place?
The elections will take place in Germany on 24th of September 2017 and the voters in Nepal will be casting their vote on 26th of November 2017. The election had to take place by January 2018 because then the tenure of the current Legislature Parliament will constitutionally end.
Who will be the voters and who can be voted for?
The regulations regarding the voting age are handled similarly in both countries: one can vote upon reaching the age of 18. But in Nepal in order to vote citizens who haven’t voted before must register on the voters’ list and get a photo ID.
The total number of eligible and registered voters is, according to the Election Commission, about 14 million in Nepal (status as of February 2017) and, according to the Federal Statistical Office, 61.5 million voters in Germany (status as of February 2017). The number differs that much because Germany has around 50 million more inhabitants than Nepal.
Election procedure in Nepal © Krish Dulal / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0
According to the Federal Election Commissioner German voters can choose between 48 different parties from which 9 are established parties, meaning that they are represented continuously with 5 seats in the German parliament or state parliament since the last election four years ago. While 42 parties already seems to be a high number for us German voters, the Nepalese voters have to decide between more than 22 major parties plus a nearly uncountable number of minor parties which are registered in the Election Commission. But how do you deicide for whom to vote when there is such a wide selection? How do you make sure you don’t lose the overview? Certainly, the election campaigns play a big role in this process.
Posters, Television, Radio, Social Media – who uses what?
Parties in both countries use traditional channels to advertise their campaigns. But apart from that similarity huge differences appear when it comes to the election campaign.
Posters shown in Germany during a speech of a candidate for the chancellorship
Posters are often used, in fact they are the core media of the election campaign in Germany. But in Nepal they are used to a lesser extent, mainly because they mean extra work and extra costs. Whereas posters still can be found all over Nepal they are regulated in the capital Kathmandu because they disrupt the cityscape. And since every party in Nepal has their own flag, they are often used to promote the party, Reeti K.C., student at Kathmandu University School of Arts, tells.
While television is not used much in Nepal for campaign purposes it’s the second important medium of the election campaign in Germany thanks to its ability to reach a large audience. Using the radio is also important during the campaigns in both countries even though in Nepal the radio plays an even greater role. In order to use a radio channel for election advertising every party has to pay money to the broadcaster. Whether a party is able to use the radio depends on their income – the bigger a party is, the more money they have, the more they can advertise.
This is one of the reasons why social media grows more and more important in the Nepalese election campaigns. Even though every party uses social media especially the little parties exploit it to get votes. The results of the Local Elections which took place in Nepal three months ago confirm this observation: The smaller parties are more active on social media and consequentially got more votes in the capital where social media and the Internet in general is used more often. On the contrary the bigger parties ruled outside the capital where it is more common to go to the people’s homes and organize rallies instead of using Social Media as a part of the election campaign, Aashish Mishra who is also studying at Kathmandu University explains.
Take a look at our video podcast about the upcoming elections in Nepal and Germany.
What unites Nepal and Germany is that these upcoming elections could change a lot in both countries. With these elections only being the third ones since the proclamation of a republic in 2008 one can say that Nepal still struggles with the transition from a monarchy to a republic. In Germany the elections are crucial considering the rising of the right-wing party Alternative für Deutschland, short AfD (English: Alternative for Germany). Therefore it is even more important that everyone uses his chance to vote, to make an impact.