Young voters in Kathmandu sincerely hope for change. Will new leaders meet their expectations?

Young women/ young voters line up to cast their ballots during the local elections in Kathmandu, on Friday, May 13, 2022. voter turnout
Young women line up to cast their ballots during the local elections in Kathmandu, on Friday, May 13, 2022. Photo: Shankar Giri

In most parts of Nepal, the local elections were held successfully on Friday as Nepal saw a voter turnout of around 65 per cent. Like every election, many first-time young voters throughout the country went out, voted, and exercised their fundamental rights.

One such voter was 24-year-old, Shalin Nepal from Tarakeshwar municipality ward number 5 in Kathmandu. Having been away to study abroad, this was her first time voting and she was genuinely excited. She stood in line hoping that her one vote would help create change in her neighbourhood and the municipality.

“I’ve never liked politics, but with time I’ve realised that it’s something important for the development of the country,” said Nepal.

As we visited different booths of Kathmandu during the local elections, many young voters shared Nepal’s hope.

Right choice matters

In the men’s queue was 20-year-old young voter Dipen Nagarkoti, also voting for the first time.

“Local elections are important because it shapes the place you live in. The development of the place and the neighbourhood depends on the local elections,” he said. “That is why I came to vote because my vote matters.”

There was a ray of hope in his eyes. He was happy and hopeful that things will change.

“I hope people chose the right candidate,” said Nagarkoti.

We met another 20-year-old in Balaju Bypass. Sushma Risal was in a queue in ward number 16 of the Kathmandu metropolitan city. She said she was only voting because she believed the right candidates were contesting the local elections. She said the vision and goals of new and young candidates were what brought her to the polling stations as she hoped things would change for the better in the city she loves.

Sneha Thapa from Machhapokhari also felt proud to vote. She believed that as she was voting for the first time, she felt like a responsible citizen. She said she had come to the polling station after going through the election manifesto of all the candidates and had thought hard about who to vote for.

“People with a new mindset are contesting the elections. I think if these people win, the development will happen fast in Kathmandu,” she said, adding young voters using their rights is more important now.

Politics a priority now

Kerima Gahatraj, another young voter, looked extremely happy after voting. She told Onlinekhabar how the youth should no longer stay away from politics.

“It directly affects us, which is why we should be very careful who we vote for,” she added.

In Tarakeswar municipality’s Manamaiju, Ganesh Shrestha voted for the first time. To ensure he got to vote, he stood in line for hours to make his voter ID.

“Understanding politics is not easy. But, you can always choose the right candidate to lead your ward and your city. I hope my vote can create change,” said Shrestha.

Prashun Lamichhane, 24, had the chance to vote in 2017. But, because he did not think anyone was worth voting for, he did not cast his vote.

“This year, I see people with vision. That is why I am here,” he said. “I think politics affects the youth more than others and that is why I believe every young voter needs to vote.”

Sanjaya Thapaliya recently returned from Australia. He said he also decided to vote for the first time because he believed that every vote mattered and could create change.

For Sanjita Shrestha, 21, voting was not straightforward. When she looked at the ballot paper, she was confused and scared.

“I didn’t want my votes to be invalid. I am happy that I voted correctly and for the right person. I hope my vote will help create change,” she said.

Meanwhile, another young voter Niti Shrestha from Shova Bhagawati voted for independent candidates.

“When I read the person’s election manifesto, I found it different from others. I only came to vote because of that. The person has used data to explain things and has provided measures of how to change the city. I am hopeful,” she said.

This story was translated from the original Nepali version and edited for clarity and length.

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BK is an Onlinekhabar journalist.

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