User Group

Non-electoral Representation in Public Policy: Institutional Capacity of Community Electricity User Groups in Nepal

While the need to access, involve, and empower citizens to the heart of public governance and decision-making for effective and accountable policy formulation and implementation remains a celebrated ideal, its outcomes, in reality, have been unyielding to a large extent. Controlled arenas of public policy deliberation and deficits within traditional electoral representation system have curtailed actual voice and concerns of citizens in public policy, leading to failure in policy adoption and implementation. Increasingly, actors and institutions outside the government have been found identifying themselves with policy functions of the government. Involvement of the third sector in complimentary roles in service provisioning, resource distribution, and infrastructure management has enabled alternative modes of mainstreaming marginalised voices in public policy processes. Changing notion and dynamics of traditional political constituency has resulted in representative claims to surface from within collective non-electoral representative institutional structures. Having common shared agendas and an egalitarian mandate, these institutions are calling for recognition in public policy functions. The growing network of Community Electricity User Groups in Nepal claims to represent a constituency of rural population across Nepal, who have been traditionally alienated by the state in favour of urban populace for electricity access. This paper discusses the institutional capacity of South Lalitpur Rural Electricity Cooperative to represent the voices of local electricity users in public policy formulation. Its objective is to assess the legitimacy of representative claims in rural electrification. Findings show that it is not sufficient to trace policy agendas across various representative levels to conclude on the legitimacy of representation, and the process of building representative agendas is largely affected by institutional decision-making structure, democratic practice in self-renewal and accountability of local leadership
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