Experts for no party tags to boost competitiveness

Shining BD Desk || Shining BD

Published: 2/22/2024 5:47:59 AM

The local government elections will be more competitive, allowing locally popular candidates to contest and fostering a participatory and inclusive process if those are conducted in a non-partisan manner, experts say.

Since the enactment of new laws regulating local government on 12 October 2015, registered political parties are allowed to nominate candidates for local elections.

Under the law, candidates can use party symbols and the portrait of their respective party leaders.

The Election Commission has decided to conduct the 6th upazila parishad elections in four phases on 4, 11, 18 and 25 May.

However, local people are always enthusiastic about the local government elections because those are conducted at the grassroots level and often feature the participation of popular local leaders.

Former chief election commissioner ATM Shamsul Huda said competition in local government elections would escalate if conducted in a non-partisan manner.

“A major political party’s decision not to participate in the election allows locally popular candidates from all backgrounds to participate if the process remains open. I believe the AL’s decision is commendable,” he added.

Dr Md Abdul Alim, an election analyst, told the Daily Sun, when candidates ran without political banners, elections were based on popularity, making them more competitive. The elections thrived on healthy competition when locally popular candidates participated.

The election analyst said, “If we consider resolving community issues, the previous law was more effective. Now, the Awami League (AL) has announced its decision not to provide party nominations for the local elections, which indicates that the 2015 law reform was a mistake.”

“Another reason for not giving the party nominations is the absence of participation from all political parties in the elections. To ensure competitiveness in the polls, the ruling party aims to keep an open field,” he added.

“If multiple candidates from a party contest in local government polls, it can create competition, given the higher stakes involved. However, having more candidates from a political party may lead to division, potentially increasing clashes and violence.”

This could result in incidents such as polling centre capture, ultimately compromising the credibility of the election, he also said.

The local government elections were generally non-partisan. However, the current AL government changed the laws in 2015, shifting to party nominations for local government elections.

Now, the AL has opted not to provide party nominations to foster a competitive atmosphere in the polls.

At a meeting of the AL Central Working Committee held on 22 January, AL President Sheikh Hasina decided not to assign the “Boat” symbol to any candidate, aiming to alleviate unrest at the grassroots level.

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