Decentralization and Candidate Selection
Decentralization and Candidate Selection

Does Revolution Work? Evidence from Nepal's People's War

Governance Lab is facilitating research led by researchers from Yale University, University of California San Diego, Stanford University and EPoD India at IFMR, in collaboration with the Government of Nepal, that seeks to understand political selection (“Who becomes a politician”) through the lens of the 1996-2006 civil war. The study intends to understand the differences in inclusion of historically excluded groups into politics in the 2017 local elections. The second objective is to explore the role of political parties and citizens in influencing representation of the elected representatives. Third, it explores the representation-ability trade-off to answer the question of whether inclusion comes at the cost of competency. Finally, it uses the earthquake reconstruction transfers as a policy space to analyze the impact of political connectedness on access to the reconstruction transfers.

In the wake of an earthquake and a decade of civil unrest, the government of Nepal has started a massive process of political and fiscal decentralization, holding its first local elections in 20 years in 2017. Researchers have collected an array of population data, election data, and data on conflict to study the selection and training of newly elected representatives to better understand who becomes a local politician, how the civil war affected political selection, and the role of political parties in the process of selecting competent and representative candidates. Researchers have also conducted a large-scale survey of party selection committees around selection practices, priorities, and justifications. Overall, the study gathers, brings together, and analyzes eight different administrative and survey datasets to fulfill the objectives mentioned above. This study will culminate in an evaluation of how decentralized institutions can increase political stability and improve post-conflict reconstruction and service delivery. The preliminary findings from this study are available at request.

Federalism in Nepal fundamentally seeks to empower new political and economic actors in order to ensure inclusive growth. Our research project will explore the functioning of federalism to identify the extent to which federalism is achieving the three big changes of successful transition to political inclusion, economic transformation, and leaving no-one behind. Specific research activities will involve a large-scale federalism tracking survey to identify both overall progress on federalism and variation in progress across municipalities, the analysis of administrative and secondary datasets to examine how federalism is influencing public and private good provision, and collaborations with Nepalese counterparts to design evaluations of specific programs to build more practical evidence on what works, what does not and why, in this new context.     

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