Thursday, May 30, 2024

Section

বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

CALLING A SPADE A SPADE

Imperfections and smokescreens

What is the exact role of the Election Commission?

Update : 20 Feb 2022, 01:30 PM

There are any number of reasons why electorates choose to vote or not. A potpourri of issues -- some close-knit, others seemingly unconnected -- produce the gravy that people are offered.

Post-poll studies can be fascinating, and invasive media delight over the factors that apparently convinced choices made. Western democracies usually have abysmal turnouts. Developing countries either have astonishing turnouts, or at least figures that suggest so. What is rarely in doubt is a combination of unsavoury influences on voters.

The hushed-up allegations of long-distance "interference" and subtle, behind-the-scenes arm-twisting, to the more obvious use of muscle-power, brow-beating, and simple buying of votes provide some indicators of how and why vote results don’t necessarily reflect opinion.

Pre-poll surveys have often been proven wrong and wanting. That may well be due to a fed up survey group bombarded with a plethora of research beyond mere election predictions or analysis.

Politicians such as Winston Churchill have waved such imperfections aside in stating upfront that till better isms evolve, democracy is the best bet. Socialism, essentially a dubious cocktail of limited franchise, has tilted so hard towards a new form of capitalism so as to beg a new definition. The two broad forms promise a better life for citizens, without ever acknowledging that several aspects of that better life have to be guillotined.

Anyone suggesting socialism hasn’t improved lifestyles is talking through their hats. Those espousing democracy as the all-do-gooder are obviously under some kind of hallucination. 

The long and short of it is that people never really are left to be where they want in peace. It can be debated whether even that can allow truckers and others to block supply routes over mandatory inoculation.

Governments are heading that way to fight an enemy that is faceless. In doing so, they have been guilty of misinformation. One of which is whether this inoculation has gene-altering capability in the long run.

If governments really had got their acts together, there wouldn’t have been such scrambles. From the US, where popular votes don’t necessarily produce a president of choice, to the uncomfortable first-across-the-line process of the UK, the grumbles continue.

Following the last elections, the US has bent over backward to fiddle with rules and regulations that broadly support Donald Trump’s specific allegations of "fraud." The UK’s dilemma of a pencil-thin Brexit vote has, in hindsight, raised questions. African elections have hardly ever gone down as acceptable for all the "overseeing" of poll observers.

Our sub-continent has been a little better. Pakistan’s elections are considered as heavily influenced by their army. India, owing to its size, passes -- mainly due to the massive middle-class that shapes almost all sectors.

That Bangladesh is as much a victim of "influences" has now been borne out through departing comments of individual members of the Election Commission. Barring the chief election commissioner, others have more or less, and to differing degrees, admitted that they couldn’t deliver the desired output.

There has been a puzzling inability of all governments, in our 50 years of existence, to enact a law through which the commission is nominated as per the Constitution. The next best has been formalizing what we have had, a search committee to choose the team.

The current committee's moves aren’t perfect, especially the inexorable hobnobbing with the media. There are arguments in favour and against the process by which anyone can nominate anybody as a candidate. What few have talked openly about is that the commission can only organize, not ensure, proper elections. For that to happen, the commission requires absolute control over the entire machinery involved from law enforcers, administration, and polling officers.

There was a legendary decision by which India’s chief election commissioner, Mr Gill, prevented a new chief minister from taking office in a state where elections were due. In yet another incident, he prevented the president’s rule from being invoked. Both decisions were based on not allowing undue influence to take place.

The same powers must be given to the Election Commission in Bangladesh for truly fair elections. Such must it be that administrative posting of those that can influence voting should also take place after his approval. The millions of teachers and such that have been through the nightmare of polling or presiding officers powerless to prevent misdemeanours are silent testimony. They haven’t written any books or given evidence, but such has been the facts.

The open incitement to violence and fraud, trickles of which emerged on social media, has to be dealt with face-on -- even if this requires new by-laws to be enacted. The 322 plus names forwarded for the Commission has to be whittled down to 10 for the President’s acquiescence.

The final set must stand up and be counted, if change is to happen. Short of that, the exercise becomes what many are saying -- a laughing matter.

Mahmudur Rahman is a writer, columnist, broadcaster, and communications specialist.

Top Brokers

About

Popular Links

x