Following a long civil war, which ended in 2006, and a tumultuous decade with high levels of political tension, Nepal adopted a new constitution in 2015 and conducted largely peaceful elections in 2017. The vote was followed by the merger of two nominally communist parties as levels of violence and political contestation declined. Nepal has the world’s only democratically elected communist government.
By the end of 2020, factional disputes in the unified Nepal Communist Party came to a head. Prime Minister K. P. Sharma Oli dissolved the parliament and called for midterm elections in April-May 2021. On February 23, 2021, however, the Supreme Court of Nepal reversed this decision, reinstating elected lawmakers and asking the government to call a meeting of parliament within 13 days. The original electoral timeline is expected to go ahead, with voting in November 2022.
The armed Biplav group, a peacetime breakaway faction of the Maoist party, carried out a wave of attacks in 2019. A vigorous state security response did not seem to deter the group, although it has been less visible since the pandemic. Citing frustration with the pandemic response and the ruling NCP’s irreconcilable factional feuds, groups of royalists have begun to call for the restoration of the monarchy. Tensions in the southern plains of the Terai lowlands, where groups have sought greater autonomy and the protection of minority rights, have subsided. However, broader ethnic and identity-based tensions remain unaddressed, including disagreements over the federal structure of Nepal and struggles over what secularism means for the rights of minority religions.
Other entrenched forms of conflict, including gender-based and caste-based violence, remain prevalent. Land and resource disputes, which represent the majority of court cases, rarely lead to major violence but can be locally significant, especially when they occur along caste divides. As elsewhere, Nepalis are increasingly connected to the internet, but the government has been accused of increasingly autocratic behavior following new legislation to clamp down on defamation.