Thursday, April 10, 2008

Nepal on the Brink of Modernity

Citing opinion surveys,1 a Le Monde article claims that the question of monarchy in Nepal is far from settled, with nearly one in two Nepalis professing loyalty to the royalty, and that the conservative Congress Party, if it gets a dominant position in the elections for a Constitutional Assembly, will temporize on the matter (Frédéric Bobin, "Les Népalais aux urnes pour abolir la monarchie," 10 April 2008). While its assessment of the Congress Party is probably not far from the truth and is therefore useful, the tone of the article isn't exactly a ringing endorsement of republicanism. Coming from a good paper in France, the origin of modern republicanism, it's a little disappointing. Isn't it about time for the rest of the world to welcome the Nepalese into modernity, which has been long denied them thanks in large part to the influences of the United States and India?

1 Opinion surveys can be tricky even in rich countries, and those in very poor countries, such as Nepal where modern transportation and communication are out of reach of the majority, can be hardly reliable, as they marginalize voices of the poor and magnify those of the rich. In any case, if similar surveys had been taken in France on the eve of the French Revolution and the French had followed the survey results, France itself might have become a constitutional monarchy rather than a republic. It's a good thing that polling didn't exist back then.

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