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SAM KANG LI

A new public opinion poll has shown a deep schism between the hills and plains of Nepal, but both Madhesis and Pahadis overwhelmingly believe that differences can't be resolved by violence.

Respondents from the hills and the Tarai had widely differing perceptions on the grievances of Madhesi people, including on language policy, autonomy and performance of the government.

"The poll shows that Madhesis are growing pessimistic and if the state is not able to address their genuine demands the country could be headed towards disaster," says Sudhindra Sharma of Interdisciplinary Analysts, which interviewed 3,010 respondents from 30 sample districts in January.

The results can be compared to results from the same questions asked in earlier polls in 2004, January and September 2006 and in 2007. After a sharp decline in support for the monarchy from 81 percent in 2004 to 46 percent in 2007, the monarchy's support has increased slightly to 49 percent. Support for a Hindu state remains rock steady at 59 percent in the last three polls since 2006.


More people have heard about constituent assembly elections than last year, but their scepticism is growing. The number of respondents who said polls can be held dropped from 28 percent last year to 22 percent today.

The Election Commission Code of Conduct doesn't allow the publication of the relative popularity of the parties, but the poll shows that 58 percent of people still haven't made up their minds whom they will vote for.

The poll shows a big gap between the expectations of the people and the preoccupations of the political parties. The Nepali people overwhelmingly are not worried about politics so much as inflation, lack of development and poverty. At the local level, the priorities are roads, water and electricity in that order.

Nepal Contemporary Political Situation V
Interdisciplinary Analysts,
January 2008
ida(at)wlink.com



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