Bangladesh: No public confidence in election


M Sakhawat Hossain | Prothom Alo   Mar 01, 2019  

M Sakhawat Hossain

Neither the turnout at this election nor the winner surprised me in the least. It was inevitable. It was a manifestation of the people’s loss of confidence in the election commission.

No matter what the election commission may claim, media reports reveal that most of the polling centres remained empty. People did not turn up to vote. They had lost their confidence in the election commission and the election system after the last parliamentary polls. The spectre of the national election hung heavily over the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) polls.

Any progress made in the country’s election system has waned to an extent that the people no longer have any confidence in it at all. The former festivity and enthusiasm of an election has been obliterated. This does not bode well for anyone.

Even the ruling party candidate displayed no enthusiasm in his campaign which was lack lustre at the best. When this mayoral election was to have been held before the parliamentary polls, all political parties had said they would participate. But then it was suspended by a court order. Had the election commission wanted a competitive election, they should have filed an appeal then and there. But they did not. Perhaps they wanted it to be held after the national election. By then people lost interest.

Such a situation has a long-term harmful impact on the country’s democratic system. The winner may take oath and carry out his duties, but an invisible cloak of non-confidence has descended all around. This spells danger for a country. The long-term effect is certainly nothing good.

If democracy of a country does not function smoothly, dire consequences are inevitable. There are many such examples the world over. It will be a difficult task to overcome this situation here. Democracy and development must go hand in hand in countries like ours. If not, neither democracy nor development will survive.

* M Sakhawat Hossain is a former election commissioner. This piece appeared in the online version of Prothom Alo in Bangla and has been rewritten here in English by Ayesha Kabir