Thursday, June 13, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

The morning after

The election shows that there is still a deadlock that our political leaders will have to overcome

Update : 09 Jan 2024, 08:04 PM

In the end, the 12th national parliamentary elections went off far better than had been feared, and all Bangladeshis as well as those on both sides of the political aisle have something to be thankful for. The results are still coming in at the time of this writing, but most would agree that it is fair to say that the polls have been as representative and friction-free as could have been hoped for.

As a publication that has witnessed and reported exhaustively on two general elections since our inception, we can definitively state that this year’s edition has been an improvement over the elections of 2014 and 2018, and that using that as the measuring stick, things appear to be moving in the right direction.

Unlike in 2014, there were no uncontested seats and indeed many of the races showed significant competition, with unfancied candidates looking set to triumph. Despite the lack of participation from the major opposition BNP, the elections this year were much better contested than 10 years ago, though the numbers released by the Election Commission are sufficiently modest to suggest that they are credible.

Similarly, there have been far fewer allegations of irregularities than was seen in 2018 -- with many of the isolated instances having been dealt with severely. In short, given the riven state of our polity, and the tension and violence that had led up to it, the day went admirably smoothly. The Election Commission and law enforcement agencies deserve the plaudits that they have received for running a tight ship and keeping the peace.

There is indeed good news for everyone in the results, not least the Bangladeshi people. While the ruling AL can take comfort from their expected thumping victory, the 40% turnout that has been bruited by the EC seems rooted in reality such that the voters should not feel that the process has been hijacked. By the same token, the number also shows that a large number of voters actively decided against participating in the polls, which holds the implication that BNP still enjoys wide support from the voting public.

In short, we are back to where we were before the elections. Nothing much has been resolved, but then again nothing has been broken, and such is the current state of our parlous politics that this constitutes good news for the country.

The fact remains that the election shows that there is still a deadlock that our political leaders will have to overcome.

In order for Bangladesh to secure its long-term ambitions and indeed the future of its democracy, our political parties will need to work together, that much is incontrovertible; especially given the nature of the  challenges that our nation will face in the coming years -- from climate change and the changing world order in the medium-term to our current inflation and exchange rate woes.

At the end of the day, the elections have shown us that both parties have their adherents and that neither can be wished away by the other. Therefore, moving forward, we hope that the lesson to be drawn from yesterday's election is that the political parties must work harder to find the common ground that will be needed for Bangladesh to address the complexities of a changing world.

Let us hope that this has been the last of our one-sided elections and that in future both sides can deliver what the Bangladeshi people want, a true choice.

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