Voters’ lack of interest an ominous sign for democracy: EC Mahbub | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 20, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:24 AM, June 20, 2019

Upazila Polls

Voters’ lack of interest an ominous sign for democracy: EC Mahbub

The lack of eagerness among people centring the upazila elections is an ominous sign for a democratic nation, Election Commissioner Mahbub Talukder said yesterday.

He made the remark in a written press statement at his office in Dhaka, expressing his opinion on the fifth phase of the local government polls.

“The most concerning aspect of upazila election this time is lack of voters’ eagerness. This is an ominous sign for a democratic state and nation… it is drawing the nation to the edge of a cliff,” he said.

“You [journalists] have wanted to know my opinion on this years’ upazila election which ended in five phases [yesterday]. To opine how much these elections have been free, fair and acceptable, I would repeat what I said regarding general election earlier; if you ask your conscience, you would find the answer,” the EC said.

Upazila elections will never be free, fair and acceptable if there is any intervention by lawmakers, the election commissioner observed. If answers to questions such as why lawmakers flout electoral conduct to put their preferred candidate in office, or why they sometimes take stance against their party-nominated candidate cannot be found, their direct or indirect influence in the polls are inevitable, the statement read.

“In this context, question remains whether the local or upazila elections have been held constitutionally or not,” he said.

“The upazila polls this time were not inclusive, as the opposition parties did not contest in the election,” Mahbub also said.

“Democracy means the opinion of the majority gets expressed in an inclusive and participatory manner. In lopsided polls, opinion of the majority does not get reflected properly,” the statement read.

“The upazila parishad will fail to meet the people’s expectations if it is not able to deliver their duties independently and the democratic norms of the local governance system are compromised,” he added.

Stressing that the polls environment is an important aspect to ensure inclusive elections, EC Mahbub said, “We are continuously moving towards one-sided polls, which is not a good sign for democracy.”

 “Is there any necessity of such elections just for the sake of it? We want to find a positive way from this negative question,” he said.

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