• Wednesday, Sep 28, 2022
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

How can local government elections be improved?

  • Published at 06:03 pm March 12th, 2019
Is she making the most informed decision?
Is she making the most informed decision? /MAHMUD HOSSAIN OPU

Right now, local elections are problematic, to say the least

Using party symbols in local government elections is tested at the union parishad, municipality, and city corporation elections -- and now at the upazila parishad elections. The results have been mixed.

In the case of urban local government elections, ie municipality and city corporation elections, it seems, to a great extent, suitable. On the other hand, in the rural local government elections, ie union parishad and upazila parishad elections, it is not as suitable. 

It is, however, not utilized in the election of the zila parishad. To test the model in the zila parishad elections, first we need to turn to the citizenry voting system used in basic democratic styles of elections.

In the upazila parishad elections, there remains an unresolved question: While the opposition party is officially missing in the election, what is the reason of sanctioning the party symbol of the ruling Awami League? 

The ruling party nominated its candidates with the “boat” symbol and, at the same time, allowed local party leaders to contest against it. Officially, it makes the party divided and thus, party activists as well as followers become confused and end up voting against the symbol of the party they follow. There are even instances where many local senior leaders have ended up voting against their party symbol. 

The situation is very complicated. Further complexity arises when the members of parliament get involved in the process. 

For instance, a single MP advocates for the boat in some upazilas, and, paradoxically, creates, either directly or indirectly, environments against the boat in another upazila. 

Also, observations support the fact that a district leader campaigns against the boat in one place and in favour of boat in another place. 

The party symbol allotment and the party’s important position holders fighting or advocating against the party symbol should not be allowed to go together.

In the process, activists, followers, and common electorates are embarrassed.

In such a situation, in some places, the party symbol becomes a burden for the candidate, particularly in places where opposition party activists and followers silently move against the ruling party candidate and also the ruling party’s local senior leaders go against the party-nominated candidate.

If all the chairman candidates in an upazila parishad election could be put on one stage, they would have been able to inform the community people together about the manifestos and models of local governance process they wish to facilitate for the community they would be representing. 

Such a model could also help run constructive debates among them. And thus, it would have been possible to ensure the local election process and result with the free and fair participation of the people. Such a system could also be implemented in the case of the vice chairman candidates.  

In the current round of local government elections, I had wished to pilot such an initiative at my upazila, Dharmapasha, followed by Jamalgonj in Sunamgonj zila, but have not received enough support or cooperation from the candidates. 

If the Election Commission supports civil society to help test and establish such a model or if the candidates themselves voluntarily wish for it and they have confidence in their own dignity and people’s votes, such a model might indeed be possible and could be tested. 

Mohammad Rafiqul Islam Talukdar is an Associate Professor and Director at the Asian University of Bangladesh.

Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail