Update From N4 Volunteer Currently In Nepal P2.

Some hurricane!  We came out the other side of the eye, and, other than a few scattered showers, there’s no sign of a second half of the hurricane.

In fact, the most striking feature of the landscape is how remarkably smoothly the election went.  It was hardly perfect; there dozens of cases of individual polling stations having been sufficiently bolluxed to require a rerun; undoubtedly more than a few constituencies where voters were terrorized into voting for Maoist candidates; and two or three cases of individual (non-Maoist) candidates being murdered.  But in the cold light of day, frankly, it’s easy to imagine a far more brutal election run-up and aftermath, and it’s difficult to imagine a more tranquil process.

Opinions and predictions vary all over the lot.  Our host family in Tansen agrees that the Maoists might have escalated the violence if the election results had been announced to have gone against them.  But now the family is guardedly optimistic that the resounding success of the Maoists means that they may succeed where the corrupt incompetents of the past Congress and Marxist/Leninist governments had failed so miserably. 

On the other hand, there’s our hotel manager here who insists that the Maoists will have about the same effect on Nepal as Hamas has had on Gaza.

Meanwhile, though, at least in the short term, the news is good for Nepal: the Maoist leadership has announced a commitment to capitalism and the private sector as the best route to economic improvement; and even the violent wing of the party seems to be calming down.

So, yes–the other half of the hurricane may yet materialize.  But the interim assessment remains: Syabas, Nepal!  Well done!

— Chris Jeffers, N4