Social Science Baha

Non Electoral Representation in Policy Process

Saumitra Neupane

While the need to access, involve and empower citizens to the heart of public governance and decision making for effective and accountable policy formulation and implementation remains a celebrated ideal, its outcomes, in reality, have been unyielding to a large extent. Controlled arenas of public policy deliberation and deficits within traditional electoral representation system have curtailed actual voice and concerns of citizens in public policy, leading to failure in policy adoption and implementation. Increasingly, actors and institutions outside the government have been found identifying themselves with traditional functions of the government. Involvement of the third sector in complimentary roles in service provisioning, resource distribution and infrastructure management has enabled alternative modes of mainstreaming marginalized voices within public policy functions. Changing notion and dynamics of traditional political constituency has resulted in representative claims to surface from within collective non-electoral entities. Having common shared agendas and an egalitarian mandate these institutions are calling for recognition within public policy functions. The growing network of Community Electricity User Groups in Nepal claims to represents a constituency of rural population across Nepal, who traditionally has been alienated by the state in favor of urban populace for electricity access. In commenting on the legitimacy of such representative claims, this qualitative research adopts a case study approach to discuss on the institutional capacity of South Lalitpur Rural Electricity Cooperative to represent voice of local electricity users in public policy processes. Findings show that it is not sufficient to trace policy agendas across various representative levels to conclude on the legitimacy of representation, and the process of building representative agendas is largely affected by institutional policies, leadership and local politics.