Nepal: Monarchy and Mao

The decision by the King of Nepal to assume executive power presents his people with a choice between two forms of government in decline in much of the world – Maoism or absolute monarchy. But the king has taken a massive gamble by involving the monarchy in the political process at a time when the threat from Maoist rebels is at its greatest. If he fails to bring peace, and few would bet that he will, the end will be nigh for the monarchy.

The World Today Updated 15 October 2020 Published 1 March 2005 4 minute READ

Dr Gareth Price

Former Senior Research Fellow, Asia-Pacific Programme

Blaming King Gyanendra alone for plunging Nepal into crisis seems somewhat unfair. Since adopting democracy in 1990, a succession of governments, with an average lifespan of one year, have seemed more intent on gaining control of the spoils of power in Kathmandu than rectifying the massive social and economic problems faced by the bulk of the population. Over forty percent live in poverty, and the average income is around $240.

Unsurprisingly, radical left-wing ideologies gained ground, but repression led these groups to abandon parliamentary politics and move underground. The crackdown which followed only worked to boost the Maoists. But from Kathmandu, the rebellion appeared distant, and was largely ignored.

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