Uncontested and Voter-less Local by-elections are not Good for Democracy: Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK)

Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) believes that the trend of uncontested local government elections and parliamentary by-elections in recent years is going to have a far-reaching negative impact on the country’s democratic culture. In the process, the right of the voters to vote and elect their representatives as per their choice is being curtailed and many eligible candidates are losing their interest to contest in the elections. This is creating apathy among the voters and eligible candidates for politics and elections, which is detrimental to the democratic culture.
On 20 September 2021, 160 Union Parishad (UP) elections were held across the country. According to the media reports, the Awami League’s nominated chairman candidates in 43 UPs in Bagerhat, Chattagram and Khulna got elected uncontested before the polls. In Bagerhat, Awami League candidates had no competitors in 38 out of 66 UPs. In the remaining 28 UPs, Awami League candidates competed against the rebels of their own party. A similar scenario had been observed in the first phase of the previous UP elections. On 21 June, voting took place in 204 UPs where 28 chairmen won unopposed.
The notion of winning the election if contested on behalf of the ruling party is causing other political parties or individual candidates to lose interest to participate in elections. However, even some years ago, an election was pictured as heavy competition in Bangladesh. Voters also used to take part in the elections with great enthusiasm and interest. In this case, ASK perceives that the Election Commission has failed to fulfill its responsibilities properly. Gradually, all parties concerned are losing interest in the election, as the commission is unable to ensure a competitive, participatory, fair and neutral election. In a democratic country, it is essential to hold a free and fair election to elect the representatives of the people through ensuring the participation of all parties. ASK urges the Election Commission to take necessary steps to get out of the situation as soon as possible and hold discussions with various parties on the measures they can adopt in this regard.

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