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Uncontested seats bode ill

  • Published at 06:36 pm December 14th, 2013

At latest count, 127 candidates of the ruling AL will be automatically elected in the upcoming elections, as they are running uncontested in their constituencies. At least 150 seats, fully one in two, will remain uncontested in the upcoming elections.

It is surely self-evident that an election in which half the seats remain uncontested creates a severe crisis of credibility. This is not simply a question of the elections being boycotted by the BNP, but is a clear indication that the polity as a whole lacks confidence in the electoral process.

Let’s go to the numbers. In 2001 and 2008, no seats were uncontested, which is what one expects from a legitimate election. An uncontested seat means that voters in that constituency do not have a choice, and ipso facto suggests that there is something amiss in the proceedings.

Even the February 15, 1996 election, which was boycotted by all major parties expect the then-ruling BNP saw only 49 seats uncontested, less than a quarter of the number this time. The cancelled elections slated for January 22, 2006 saw only 18 seats uncontested.

In short, what we have here is an unprecedented lack of confidence in the upcoming elections. It is surely significant to note that the upcoming elections have massively less participation than earlier elections that were contemporaneously and historically regarded as unacceptable.

Even setting aside the issue of the boycott by BNP and other major parties, we do not see how elections in which one in two of the races will be uncontested can even claim to reflect the will of the populace.

Since the credibility of the election has been compromised to such a degree, it remains highly doubtful whether the results will be accepted by the general population. As things stand now, elections on January 5 will resolve nothing.