AL has won a predictable and hollow victory which gives it neither a mandate nor an ethical standing to govern effectively. Elections to the 147 nominally contested seats of the Jatiya Sangsad are now over. With candidates to 153 seats earlier declared elected unopposed, the tenth parliament is now technically in place. Despite violence in some areas, voting of sorts and evidenced by low turnout took place in other areas in relative calm. A jarring note came, though, from those centres where not a single vote was cast.
As was expected, the turn-out of voters, even in Bangladeshi terms, was pretty low average-wise. According to early information no more than 20 per cent of voters went to the polling stations to make their electoral preferences known, which were of course limited owing to a boycott of the election by the largest opposition party and which, in effect, ended with only one option-- namely the ruling party. Moreover, the turn-out was impacted by violence or the fear of it from the opposition.
We cannot but register our sorrow at the deaths of sixteen people in police firing on the day, a measure ostensibly taken to foil any attempt to disrupt the voting through extremist terrorism. We certainly condemn the violence let loose, as anticipated, by the Jamaat-Shibir (our second editorial today deals with the particular issue in detail).
We also note the fact that prior to the voting, the heavy weight of the state machinery was brought to bear on some parties as a way of herding them to the polls. The Jatiya Party remains a glaring instance.
What does this election mean for the ruling party? The plain and simple truth is that the results have not given a mandate to the prime minister and her party but have only served up a tenuous victory of sorts. One then needs to ask the question: was it a reflection of the popular will, given the circumstances in which the election took place? To be sure, the rituals of an election, in the legal sense, have been fulfilled. The moral victory is missing.
We repeat: it is a victory of sorts. Let the powers that be now go for a process that will give them a definitive mandate for governance.