Stability in Transition: Local Politics in Eastern Nepal

- James Sharrock

Discussion Type: Research Seminar Series | Date: 27 Jan 2013 | Time: 03:00 PM


A part of why the transitional period in the peace process has been relatively calm can be explained by the apparent stability in local politics. Unsurprisingly district-level bodies like the All-Party Mechanisms and Local Peace Committees, although widely perceived as entrenching corruption, assisted local level disputes from spiraling out of control by ensuring that an expanded ‘distributional coalition’ gained from patronage opportunities and government spending. However, on the ground, politics in Eastern Nepal appeared far from quiet, especially in terms of accommodating identity-based political actors. This paper will argue that local politics in Nepal during the transitional period has often seen political parties and other actors demonstrating their local power and support whilst at the same time deliberately avoiding substantial confrontations in order to preserve stability. State restructuring, future elections and economic crises could clearly disrupt this seeming stability. This paper will make wider points about the importance of viewing local politics as it actually is, not by looking at what we think it lacks according to idealised frameworks. The paper is based on the author’s field experiences over two years in Eastern Nepal. Comparisons will also be made to fieldwork on local politics undertaken by the author in the mid-Western region.

- James Sharrock

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