A screengrab of Neupane’s interview with Global Television

Lekhnath Neupane, a central committee member of the ruling CPN (Maoist Centre), recently claimed that if a political party that supported the trust motion withdrew its vote in the House of Representatives, the prime minister wouldn’t be legally required to secure another vote of confidence. He  claimed in an interview with Global Television

The interview centred on current political developments, such as growing schisms between coalition partners CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Center) that threaten to derail the alliance.

In the interview, which was posted on the TV’s YouTube channel on February 14, Neupane said:

“[This] government is [established] in accordance with [Article] 76 [Clause] 2 [of the Constitution]. The government has already won the confidence vote. As a result, no-confidence motions will not be debated in Parliament for two years, as stated  by law and the Constitution. Although, within two years, the concerned party may withdraw its vote of confidence. Following the period, the prime minister would not be legally obligated to demonstrate a majority in Parliament. He or she is under moral obligation [to do so]. It can happen at any time because the sword hangs over [the government] formed under Article 76 (2) regardless of whoever is prime minister.”

Is there a legal obligation for the prime minister to secure the trust motion in Parliament if a party that has supported the confidence motion withdraws it within two years? Nepal Check fact-checked the claim.

Fact-check

Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ became the prime minister on December 25, 2022, as per the Article 76 (2) of the Constitution. On January 26, 2023, he passed the floor test after receiving a vote of confidence from ten political parties in the House of Representatives.

Rastriya Swatantra Party, whose lawmakers voted in favour of the confidence motion, left the government on February 5. However, the party decided not to withdraw its support for the government, stating that it didn’t want to create  political instability. As a result, Dahal was spared the need to obtain a vote of confidence in the House.

But schisms emerged between the coalition partners, the CPN-UML, and Dahal’s party, the Maoist Center, in connection with the March 9 presidential election, according to news reports. In this context, Neupane, a Maoist Center central committee member, claimed that if a political party that supported the trust motion that led to the formation of the government withdrew its trust in the government, the prime minister wouldn’t be legally required to secure another vote of confidence.

Neupane argued in his statement that “the party concerned has the right to withdraw the vote of confidence.” In this definition, all political parties that backed Dahal during the trust motion have the same status. But this is misleading. 

The parties that supported the Dahal government can be divided into two categories: those who participated in the government and those who supported it from outside. The Constitution makes no provision for the prime minister to obtain a vote of confidence if a party that is not in the government withdraws its support. As a result, if a party such as the Nepali Congress, which decided to give its vote of confidence to the Dahal-led government without being a part of it, withdraws its support, Dahal won’t  be legally obliged to take  a vote of confidence in the House of Representatives. 

To this extent, Neupane is correct. But if a party participating in the government such as the UML withdraws its vote of confidence, the move attracts Clause 2 of Article 100 of the Constitution.

Article 100 (2) of the Constitution states:

In case the political party, which the prime minister represents, is divided or a political party in coalition government withdraws its support, the prime minister shall table a motion in the House of Representatives for a vote of confidence within thirty days.

The Constitution of Nepal

Clause 2 is related to the withdrawal of support from the party that is in the government and the prime minister’s obligation to secure a vote of confidence. Therefore, if the UML withdraws its support, for example, the prime minister must seek a vote of confidence within 30 days.

Article 100 of the Constitution is titled “Provisions relating to Vote of Confidence Motion and Motion of No Confidence,” and it specifies the circumstances under which the prime minister must secure a vote of confidence. Clause 2 of Article 100 states that the prime minister should seek a vote of confidence if the ruling party’s coalition partner withdraws its support.

In other words, Neupane’s statement can only be linked to this article of the Constitution because the provision is not mentioned in any other article or clause. When mentioning the “vote of confidence” and “support,” Clause 2 of Article 100 refers to support. Therefore, we considered them to be the same for this fact-check.

To learn more about Article 100 (2), Nepal Check spoke with constitutional expert Bipin Adhikari. “If a member of a coalition government withdraws the vote of confidence given to the prime minister in Parliament, the prime minister must seek a vote of confidence within thirty days,” Adhikari told Nepal Check. “However, if the party supported the government trust motion but it is not part of the coalition government, withdraws its support, the prime minister will not be required to secure the vote of confidence again.”

The “concerned parties” who supported the government in the confidence motion include both the UML, which not only supported the motion but joined the government, and the Nepali Congress, which supported the motion but did not join the government.

However, while arguing in support of the current government, Neupane failed to make this clear. By obfuscating this crucial distinction, his statement can be interpreted to mean the same thing for both types of support. This is misleading.

Therefore, Neupane’s claim that the prime minister is not legally required to seek another vote of confidence if a political party that supported the trust motion withdraws its vote is misleading. 

ClaimClaimed byNepal Check Verdict
If a political party that supported the trust motion withdraws its vote in the House, the prime minister is not legally required to seek another vote of confidence.Lekhnath Neupane, central committee member of the CPN (MC). Misleading
Nepal Check verdict after fact-checking Lekhnath Neupane’s claim that the prime minister would not be legally obliged to secure a vote of confidence again if a political party that supported the trust motion withdrew its vote of confidence.

We updated the Nepali version of the fact-check. The English version reflects the changes made in the Nepali version.