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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Does Revolution Work? Evidence from Nepal’s People’s War

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In 2015, after a decade-long conflict and nine years of negotiation, Nepal promulgated a constitution that replaced its 240-year-old monarchy by a federal republic. The subsequent 2017 local elections ushered more than 30,000 first-time politicians into office. Using a census of 3.68 million Nepalis (2.56 million of whom are of voting age) covering eleven districts, party nomination lists and party candidate selection committee surveys, electoral data and information on conflict incidence, we document that castes that were historically excluded from political representation achieved representation without a significant representation-ability trade-off: improved social representation among politicians is accompanied by positive selection on education and income. Triangulating across multiple data sources, we show that the entry of the revolutionary Maoist group as a post-conflict mainstream party played an important role. Finally, political representation of non-elite castes improved their policy inclusion as measured by individual access to earthquake reconstruction transfers. These gains, however, vary with the extent of social connections to the elected mayor and point to a continuing need to balance power by supporting institutions that provide all citizens political voice.

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