Government of Nepal
Nepalís government is a constitutional monarchy. In response to major
pro-democracy protests, Nepal adopted a new constitution in 1990 that
established a multiparty democracy but preserved the kingís status as
chief of state. The 1990 constitution ended nearly 30 years of absolute
monarchy in which the king dominated Nepalís politics and political
parties were banned. Nepal has universal suffrage beginning at the age
A. Executive and Legislature
Executive powers are vested in the king and a council of ministers,
composed of a prime minister and other ministers. The king appoints the
leader of the majority party in parliament as prime minister. Other
ministers are appointed from parliament by the king upon the
recommendation of the prime minister. The
Council of Ministers is
responsible for the day-to-day administration of Nepal.
The 1990 constitution established a bicameral (two-chamber) legislature
consisting of a house of representatives and a national council. The
House of Representatives has 205 members directly elected by the voters.
The National Council has 60 members: 10 nominated by the king, 35
elected by the House of Representatives, and 15 elected by an electoral
college comprising the voters, chairs, and deputy chairs of villages,
towns, and districts. Members of parliament serve five-year terms unless
the parliament is dissolved earlier upon recommendation of the prime
The judiciary is made up of three tiers: the Supreme Court, appellate
courts, and district courts. The Supreme Court is the highest court. The
chief justice is appointed by the king on the recommendation of the
Constitutional Council. Other judges of the three courts are appointed
on the recommendation of the Judicial Council.
C. Political Parties
Major political parties include the Nepali Congress
Party (NCP), a
reform-oriented centrist party, and the Communist Party of Nepal
(Unified Marxist-Leninist), or CPN-UML. Both of these parties operated
illegally in Nepal from exile in India until the 1990 reforms lifted the
ban on political parties. The royalist National Democratic Party (NDP)
was formed prior to the first democratic elections in 1991. In 1998 a
faction within the CPN-UML broke away to form a new party, the Communist
Party of Nepal (Marxist-Leninist), or CPN-ML. Also that year, the NDP
split into two rival factions with the creation of the NDP (Chand). In
2002 a breakaway faction of the NCP formed the Nepali Congress
D. Social Services
Nepal has significant health care problems and receives aid through
foreign agencies and religious groups. Diseases and chronic infections
have been particularly prevalent in rural areas, including goiter,
tuberculosis, and dysentery. Cases of leprosy continue to exist in some
areas. Another chronic problem in Nepal is malnutrition, which is
particularly severe in hill and mountain regions where people often
experience food shortages.
In 2002 Nepalís defense force consisted of an army of about 63,000.
There is no air force, although the army operates a small military wing.
Military service is not compulsory.
F. International Organizations
Nepal has been a member of the United Nations since 1955 and
participates in several international agencies such as the United
Nations Food and Agricultural Organization; the United Nations
Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization; the World Health
Organization; and the Economic Council for Asia and the Far East. In
1961 Nepal became a member of the International Bank for Reconstruction
and Development (World Bank). Kathmandu is the permanent seat of the
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.