Aristotle’s Theory And Nepali Politics

Prakriti Nepal

Aristotle, a Greek philosopher with a yearning for comparative politics and with a fascination towards biology, additionally influenced by his travels and experience with various political systems, is considered the “Father Of Political Science”.
Aristotle’s famous statement “Man is a political animal” means, – by nature- a person enjoys “Societal Space”. A man is an animal who constantly thinks and that thinking is usually presided over by social systems, time, places, circumstances, customs, laws, traditions, cultures, religious beliefs, education and with these kinds of adapted thoughts- the man becomes happy and leads the man’s version of “good life”. This also makes his “political persona change”, causing “political changes” in nations.

For Aristotle, a good life for a man is the one in which a man is in continuous pursuit of wisdom that would lead to his happiness.
Political Science – one of the three branches (contemplative-productive- practical) of science derived by Aristotle is a practical science as per him. In Politics IV.1, Aristotle compared political science to medical science as he said that politicians are sort of craftsmen, just like physicians are in medical science. He mentions the utmost duty of politicians is – “nomothetês”, that of a law provider and to draft a constitution for the state.
Aristotle also considered politics to be legislative science, giving it more importance than regular political tasks, such as passing an official order – which has a force of law.
Aristotleappraises “Ethics”, “Practicality” ” Legislative”, “Philosophy”, “Constitutionalism” “Political Justice”, “Fairness”, “Individual Rights”, ” Political Community” and “Political Rights” as important.

Aristotle’s Six Constitutional Forms:
Correct: One Ruler- Kingship, Few Rulers – Aristocracy and Many Rulers – Polity
Misfit: One Ruler- Tyranny, Few Rulers – Oligarchy and Many Rulers – Democracy

Past Political Scenarios
Nepal has seen various types of political systems- from oligarchic Rana Regime to the first-ever parliamentary election held in 1959 after BP Koirala (supporter of democratic socialism) – the founder of the Nepali Congress Party, which had led the Revolution of 1951, where Nepali Congress had won. Parliamentary democracy came to an end after the dissolution of parliament in 1960. It was a direct monarchy then after, though King Mahendra introduced a panchayat system in 1962 termed as “partyless panchayat system”. The Nepali Congress and Nepal Communist Party continuously participated in joint movements against this royal control.
On May 24, 1979, King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev declared a referendum. He allowed voters to ascertain whether citizens wanted a multi-party system or a party-less panchayat system with chances of reforming it further. The majority of 54.7 % voted for the party-less Panchayat System and on May 29, 1980, the Constitution Reforms Commission of 11 persons- headed by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court was formed.
However, after the protest by Nepali Congress in combination with Unified Left Front during the 1990s, a multi-party system was established, which finally ended the no-party system and political party participation started on April 8, 1990.

Again, in the year 2005- King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev toppled the democratic government leading to the eruption of nationwide protests (supported by Maoists). Ultimately, the then Monarch was forced to bow out, allowing democracy and civil liberties to flourish once again.
Maoists then got on the normal track of politics after a decade long insurgency enjoining transformation in federal, secular and caste-based societies.

Then, in the year 2008, a constituent assembly was set up to prepare a new constitution, following an election that saw the participation of 60% of adult voters. However, despite the election- the constitution could not be drafted. Yet again in 2013, 78% of adult voters cast their mandate, which led to the promulgation of the new constitution in 2015, reconfirming secularism and federalism. Again, another election was held in 2017 under the newly implemented federal structure which the landslide victory of the communists.

Latest Scenarios in Nepal
Khadga Prasad Oli, on 11 October 2015, became the first elected Prime Minister following the promulgation of the new constitution. He received the support of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal, Madhesi Jana Adhikar Forum plus 13 other parties.
With the submission of the no-confidence motion against the government by the CPN (Maoist Centre) in 2016, Oli had to resign. However, he became Prime Minister for the second time on 15 February 2018 when CPN (UML) became the largest party in the House of Representatives- after the 2017 election. He received support from Maoist Centre, who later agreed to merge two parties into one- the CPN.
A constitution amendment bill that gave legal status to the new map was passed in two (both) Houses of the Nepali Parliament: after the new map of Nepal was unveiled, which included Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura territories.

Nevertheless, after the dissolution of the House of Representatives by President Bidya Devi Bhandari on the recommendation of the then Cabinet, it was proposed to conduct the election on 30 April and 10 May 2021. Nonetheless, Madhav Kumar Nepal and Pushpa Kamal Dahal, both former Prime Ministers, registered no confidence in the House against the then PM Oli.

Oli’s issuance of an ordinance to amend the constitutional council act and its promulgation by President Bidya Devi Bhandari as per the recommendation from the Council Of Ministers was deemed by the constitutional bench led by Chief Justice on 23 February 2021. When the NCP was invalidated after the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Rishiram Kattel, claiming the name NCP-registered as his party. On 13 March 2021, CPN (Maoist Center) decided to withdraw its support to the Oli government. So, when Oli didn’t win a vote of confidence in the House of Representatives, he remained in power as a caretaker Prime Minister.

Comparative Learning
Politics As Practical Science: Aristotle’s Theory of Political Change focuses on politics as Practical Science. However, in Nepal, there is apathy in considering politics as a practical science.
Ethics and Political Philosophies: Many changes in political systems and structures have taken place, which may have been seen as driven by one or few political figures that are representing political parties- yet, political changes have not been seen, taking into account focusing politics as behavioural science.

Ethics and Political Philosophies seem to have been less constructively utilised, and more so performed as rational business decisions (fast and risky). However, Aristotle opposed politics as a business.
Political Fairness, Individual Rights And Political Rights: Political Fairness in the current political scenario seems to be higher than in the past as the courts of Nepal are making various lawful decisions. Also, individual rights and political rights are still taken into consideration as compared to past political situations.

Political Communities: Aristotle has suggested that morality driven political communities. However, in Nepal- In recent days, such political communities haven’t been seen surfacing practically. Whereas, In the past (In Nepal)- Political Communities were being created and political change creation worthy waves were forming.
Morality Driven Ethical Strategies and Reforms: There have not been many proper/ethics-based reforms in the constitution focusing on the perspective of how to not destabilise the political systems and how to control such developments. This means morality driven strategies are not being centred on while developing constitutional reforms.

Legislative Science, Revolution And Power Driven City State: These sorts of legislative based revolution and power-driven transformation has been trending in Nepal.
Therefore, theories such as Aristotle’s Theory of Politics (Political Change) can provide additional perspectives to people’s representatives to make the political changes constructive for the country’s growth.

Source : TRN,