Who will become mayor of Kathmandu?

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Polling for the first phase of local election has been completed and all eyes are now on the results. The country's capital city, naturally, has attracted the most attention. Setopati team has closely observed the election of Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) right from the time of filing nominations. We are analyzing the outcome in Kathmandu based on that.

The main competition for the post of mayor in Kathmandu will be between CPN-UML and Nepali Congress (NC). NC seems to be stronger if we look at the last Constituent Assembly (CA) election. NC had won eight out of the 10 seats, including the one vacated by UML leader Madhav Kumar Nepal through by-election, and UML two. The constituencies for parliamentary elections also include areas surrounding the metropolis. NC is stronger inside the Ring Road than outside. The party should have been stronger in the metropolis as a consequence. But there will be no meaning of holding a fresh election if the outcome of the last were to hold even now. There are some changes in the outlook of Kathmandu Metropolis in the intervening period.

The outcome in Kathmandu this time will mainly be determined by three factors. The first is how much of their traditional voters NC and UML can hold on to. The second is the votes that Bibeksheel and Sajha parties will get, and whose votes they get. CPN (Maoist Center) seems very weak in Kathmandu and the third factor is who will get the votes it got in the last CA election.   

Talking about the first factor, NC, according to our interactions with the voters, will not be able to retain all the votes it secured in the last election. A certain fraction of its votes will go to Bibeksheel and Sajha parties. The two parties will also get some of the UML votes but the proportion of votes the two parties will get from NC will be much bigger than that they get from UML. This will hit NC. Polling is lower this time in comparison to the last CA election. The morale of UML voters seems to be higher than that of NC voters this time. NC, therefore, will lose more when fewer votes are cast.

Bibeksheel and Sajha parties will secure more votes than general estimations as we move to the second factor. The two parties will fight for the third place. Ranju Darshana of Bibeksheel will come third in the mayoral race in Kathmandu, according to our analysis, and she will be followed by Kishore Thapa of Sajha. The fact that some of the UML voters have opted for Thapa this time means deputy mayoral candidate of Sajha, Nirupama Yadav, will secure more votes than Thapa.  

Maoist Center will suffer the biggest setback in Kathmandu as we move to the third factor. Naya Shakta, formed by Baburam Bhattarai who quit the Maoist party, and Federal Socialist Forum of Upendra Yadav will also lose badly in Kathmandu and their candidates will struggle to even get their deposits refunded.
Kathmandu was an UML fort in the election of 1991, 1994 and 1999 . The party had won four out of the five parliamentary seats in 1991 and swept all seven seats in the mid-term election three years later. It had also won five out of the seven seats in 1999.

UML was hit the hardest after the Maoists increased their influence after the 'People's War'. UML was wiped out from Kathmandu in the first CA election in 2008 after the Maoists took away the Newar votes from the core of Kathmandu. NC had won six and Maoists four in the first CA election. UML had failed to win even a single seat in the whole Valley that also includes Lalitpur and Bhaktapur districts.  

The Maoists were much weaker by the time the second CA election arrived and NC was the biggest beneficiary winning eight out the 10 seats. We have already said above that Maoist Center will struggle to even avoid the ignominy of forfeiting deposits in the metropolis this time.

Which party will get the larger share of the votes that the Maoists had secured in the last election will, in all likelihood, determine who will win the mayoral race in Kathmandu this time.  

Our analysis shows that UML will get back a big chunk of the Maoist votes. Another reason for that is the fact that UML mayoral candidate Bidya Sundar Shakya comes from the core Newar settlement of Kathmandu. He was ward chairman in Ward no 21 for two consecutive terms.  NC candidate Raju Raj Joshi also comes from the core Newar settlement but he is not a Newar.

We feel Shakya will receive more votes from the core Newar settlements and may not just win back the votes from the Maoists but even get a chunk of the votes that had gone to NC in the last election.

Shakya is likely to win if he manages to widen the gap in the core Newar settlements.

Our final conclusion is NC is likely to suffer a setback in Kathmandu as Bibeksheel and Sajha parties will take away more NC votes than that from UML, and UML candidate Shakya will win even some votes from NC in the core Newar areas.

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