The trend of poor voter turnout continued in the fourth phase of the upazila elections as around 36 percent cast ballots, the lowest of the four phases.
The Election Commission data shows that the turnout in the four phases was also the lowest since 2009.
In the four phases, at least 38 upazilas saw less than 30 percent turnout while it was below 10 percent in two upazilas, shows data provided by SM Asaduzzaman, EC joint secretary and director (public relations).
The turnout was 43.31 percent in the first phase, 41.25 percent in the second phase and 41.41 percent in the third phase. It decreased to 36.50 percent in the fourth phase.
Elections were held in 107 upazilas in the fourth phase.
The EC calculated the turnout, counting the votes cast for chairman posts, excluding the eight upazilas of Rangamati the results of which were yet to reach the commission.
The turnout in the 2009 upazila polls was 70.57 percent, while it fell to 61.23 percent in 2014.
Election Commissioner Rafiqul Islam attributed the low voter enthusiasm to the absence of some registered political parties in the polls. “The elections became less competitive and participation of voters became less than that of previous elections.”
Badiul Alam Majumdar, secretary of election watchdog Shushashoner Jonno Nagorik (Shujan), termed the turnout figure “questionable”. He also called the polls “one-sided” as the people already considered its results “certain”.
“Voters became disinterested because they were not sure whether casting their votes will make any difference,” he said, adding that voters feared they could not vote if they turned up at polling centres.
“Most importantly they [voters] lost faith in the EC,” he said.
This year, elections in 480 upazilas out of 492 are taking place in five phases. The fifth- phase will be on June 18.
This is the first time political parties have nominated candidates for the posts of chairman, vice-chairman and female vice-chairman in upazila parishads.
The BNP; left democratic alliance, a combine of eight left-leaning parties; Islami Andolan Bangladesh; Bangladesh Khelafat Andolan and Bangladesh Muslim League boycotted the election, saying that they did not see any prospect of free and fair polls.
The results also show that 108 chairman candidates had been elected unopposed in the four phases. Of them, 107 are from the ruling Awami League while the other is an independent, according to the EC.
Fifty vice-chairman contestants and 52 female vice-chairman contenders were also elected uncontested. Almost all of them are AL backed contenders.
The EC have results of 451 upazilas. Of them, no elections were needed in 30 upazilas as all three candidates of the upazilas -- chairman, vice-chairman and female vice-chairman -- were elected unopposed.
AL chairman candidates won in 320 upazilas. Independent contenders secured victory in 127 upazilas, Jatiya Party men in three upazilas and JP (Manju) candidate bagged a chairman post.
Independent candidates took around 27 percent of the chairman posts.
EC officials said not less than 80 percent of the independent candidates who won in the elections were rebel candidates from the AL.
“The parties that are not contesting the local government election might have extended support to the independent candidates,” said Election Commissioner Rafiqul Islam.