Decentralisation and candidate selection

The recent local elections and decentralisation in Nepal pose an unprecedented opportunity to understand the impact of decentralisation on governance and service delivery. Nepal’s is one of the world’s most ambitious decentralisation processes, as it includes both political and fiscal decentralisation over a very short period of time.

A key goal of decentralisation is to expand citizens’ access to political institutions through the facilitation of contact with politicians and by broadening the talent pool of potential candidates. We will utilise this institutional transformation to better understand a fundamental question of democratic performance: who becomes a politician? Politician’s identities and characteristics affect the representation of political interests, capacity for political action, and ultimately the performance and outputs of government.

Nepal’s decentralisation will usher in a wave of new politicians and candidates with substantial responsibility over public finance and the delivery of public services. As these politicians assume office, they will face a range of policy choices and challenges with important implications for governance. Understanding who decided to run for office as well as the characteristics of newly elected local political leaders is the first important step in a larger research agenda evaluating the impact of decentralisation on service delivery, state capacity, and ultimately economic performance.

To do so, our study seeks to combine existing data sources from the recent election in Nepal with the population census data. We will collect and clean all available data on candidates and winners from the recent rounds of local elections. Second, we will utilise the Disaster Needs Assessment Census Data collected following the 2015 earthquake to provide crucial background information on candidates and newly elected politicians.

This project will take a first step in understanding the consequences of Nepal’s political decentralisation, ideally helping the government of Nepal to refine these new institutions, develop the capacity of locally elected representatives, and ultimately improve service delivery.

Outputs