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Dhaka Tribune

Democracy depends on an empowered EC

The Election Commission needs to break its cycle of toothless apathy

Update : 15 Jun 2022, 05:13 PM

Our Election Commission has, for the longest time, not been held in the highest of regards when it comes to its core values being upheld. Instead of being the assertive bastion of democracy that it is supposed to be, it has been made feeble and lifeless through years of bureaucratic hoop-jumping and sticking to what has worked for themselves instead of serving the people.

Reform, to state the obvious, is of the highest order.

Yet, there is very little reason for hope that such reform might be waiting in the wings, as the EC’s approach to the upcoming Cumilla City Corporation elections is just further indication that nothing has changed.

The story of a Cumilla MP flagrantly flouting polls code has been well documented in the headlines, and the EC’s willingness to roll over look the other way is a troubling sign not just for future elections but ensuring democracy in our country in general.

With the next national polls drawing closer, this is unacceptable.

Former election commissioners and chiefs alike all agree that for the next national polls to be successful it needs to be facilitated by a strong, empowered Election Commission. But when the incumbent chief of the Election Commission himself admits the potential for fair elections under the existing system, it does nothing to inspire hope that the commission might finally be turning a new leaf.

While we agree that the Election Commission cannot ensure free and fair polls by itself, it does, however, set the precedent. This is one arm of our administration that we cannot allow to get bogged down in bureaucracy and a penchant for the old ways. While voters and political parties ultimately decide who gets to power and when, it is the Election Commission, and the Chief Election Commissioner, who have to inspire trust in voters in the first place.

The Election Commission needs to break its cycle of toothless apathy. Our democracy depends on it.

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