The Kingdom of Nepal was created in 1768 when Prithvi Narayan Shah conquered the territory that comprises present day Nepal. In 1846, after many decades of monarchic rule, the royal family was subjugated by an aristocratic family, the Ranas, who created a system of hereditary Prime Ministers and reduced the power of the king. The Rana dynasty was subsequently overthrown by a coalition of democrats and the descendants of the original Nepali royal family in 1951. In 1959 the monarchy ended the democratic experiment by seizing power.
The development of a ‘People’s Movement’ (Jana Andolan) against the monarchy, which emerged in 1989, resulted in the establishment of a parliamentary constitutional monarchy under multi-party democracy. This stability was short-lived, however, as in 1996 the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) began an armed struggle demanding the establishment of a secular republican state. This led to the decade-long Nepal Civil War which claimed more than 13,000 lives. King Gyanendra used the government’s failure to control the revolt as a pretext to assume full executive power in 2005. In response, Nepal’s democratic parties allied with the Maoists to declare a pro-democratic movement (Jana Andolan-II), which led to the overthrow of the monarchy in April 2006.
A peace process brought about a political settlement in the form of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). As part of the terms of the CPA, signed on 21 November 2006 by both the government and the Maoists, the rebels agreed to disarm and became a mainstream political party. The terms also affirmed Nepal to be a secular state. In 2008 a “secular, federal democratic republic” was declared following elections to a unicameral Constituent Assembly in which the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) won the largest number of seats. The Constituent Assembly was tasked with drafting a new constitution for federal Nepal. Nepal remained politically unstable, however, as a series of governments collapsed between 2008 and 2012. The failure of the first Constituent Assembly to draft a new constitution in the allotted time led to the formation of the Second Constituent Assembly after elections held in November 2013. Alongside serving as the Nepali legislature, the Second Constituent Assembly was responsible for drafting the new constitution of Nepal.
After a 10-year civil war, Nepal is undergoing a process of triple transition – towards democracy, towards federalism, and away from feudalism. All major parties have agreed to the creation of a new federal system.
Currently, the President is the Head of State of Nepal, although this role is largely ceremonial as the functioning of the government is managed entirely by the Prime Minister, the Head of Government. The Parliament (currently the unicameral Second Constituent Assembly) appoints the Prime Minister, and he in turn appoints the Attorney General. The heads of the Constitutional bodies (the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority; the Public Service Commission; the Election Commission; and the National Human Rights Commission respectively) are appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Constitutional Council.
In September 2015 Nepal passed a new Constitution, creating a Federal country. This constitution replaces the interim constitution that has governed the country since 2007, and the new structure of government is now in the process of being implemented.