It was their strident opposition to the king, as also promises of a radical socioeconomic transformation of Nepal (and perhaps some voter intimidation), that enabled the Maoists to defy the pundits' prediction of a poor third place. They have now bagged 55 per cent of the 220 seats; counting in 20 seats has been stalled for repolling. These together constitute the 240 seats for which elections were held under the first-past-the-post system. Another 335 seats in the constituent assembly (CA) will be decided through proportional representation (PR), and it's expected to take another two weeks to complete the counting and allocate seats to each party. Even under the PR system, the Maoists are way ahead of nearest rivals though they are still expected to fall a bit short of a simple majority in the CA.
Sensing Nepal's radical mood, Maoist ideologue Dr Baburam Bhattarai declared, "We will enforce republicanism on the very first day the CA holds its session." Republicanism is a euphemism for the abolition of monarchy. But this is easier said than done. For one, a redrafted Constitution requires the support of two-third members of the CA. Not only will the CA have over a score of members from the pro-monarchy parties elected under the PR system, many legal experts feel the future Constitution can't be implemented in bits and pieces. "A flawed process and hasty moves could lead to more complications as the redrafting of the Constitution will need proper debate, understanding and consensus," cautions Kumar Regmi, president of the Constitutional Lawyers Forum.