The absence of opposition parties at polling centres has made Dhaka city elections questionable, Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukder said yesterday.
“So, it has become essential to reform the electoral process and bring change to the voting system,” he said in a written statement issued expressing his opinion on the just-concluded Dhaka north and south city corporation elections that saw very low turn-out.
“Apathy towards elections is synonymous to the absence of democracy,” he said in the statement.
On February 1, the DSCC and DNCC elections were held with the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs). Awami League mayoral candidates — Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh in DSCC and Atiqul Islam in DNCC — won the elections.
Mahbub said two city polls have raised the question about the future of elections and democracy in Bangladesh.
People’s apathy for voting in the city elections begs the question whether the nation is gradually moving towards a void of democracy, he said.
Incidents of violating the electoral code of conducts, which took place from the announcement of polls schedule to the end of the elections, have made the code of conduct redundant, he claimed.
Moreover, there was no indication that the allegations were verified, the election commissioner said, adding that these are the primary element of “free-style” elections.
“I found the low turnout in Dhaka city corporation elections quite normal. It may be an ominous sign for democracy, but this is the real picture,” he said.
If the election process fails, the normal process of handing over power gets blocked, he said, adding that the future of country’s elections and democracy depends on discussion among the political parties.
Meanwhile, BNP lawmaker Harunur Rashid yesterday termed the Election Commission “worthless” in parliament and demanded the resignation of the incumbent election commissioners for their “failure to arrange fair elections”.
Speaking on a point of order, he said this government and the EC have totally failed to arrange any fair election.
Referring to the February 1 elections, Harun said the voter turnout was only 27 percent and 24 percent in the two city elections.