Solving party rifts by proportional voting system
IN political parties, differences of opinion and ideology between party members or leaders are common everywhere, and may cause great problems within a political party even in the most advanced Western democracies. These sorts of problems can become explosive in 3rd world countries, especially during nomination of party candidates before an election. Let me cite an example from the ongoing upazila polls.
While checking the result of the elections last night I found that lots of candidates, from both AL and BNP, who won were rebels who had contested the polls against the will of their political leadership. The other aspect of this rebellious mode is that these dissenters not only cause rift in their own party but also facilitate 'sure' defeat of their own party representative, and thereby make it possible for their rival party to win. In yesterday's election, Ariful Islam Mirdha, a BNP rebel in Shibpur Uppazilla (Narsingdi) won the election defeating his own party nominated Tofazzol Hossain where Mirdha got 39,513 votes and Hossain 30,213. Total vote for BNP in this case was 69,726. Similarly, Shamsuzzaman Talukder, an AL rebel of Khaliajuri Uppazilla (Netrokona) won the election defeating BNP candidate Masud Rana Chowdhury by 5,5532 votes. But if we had Proportional Voting System (PVS) the problem could be solved in a very sophisticated way, which could greatly help in maintaining harmony and fair play within the political parties.
Our voting system, to define in the correct technical term, is called “Plurality” system or “Winner-takes-all” system.
It is a primitive system, and he who polls the highest number of formal votes wins the election. In certain cases such a candidate may win an election only by getting 20% to 25% votes or less. In the other system, the Majority one, a candidate must win more votes than all other candidates combined. However, PVS is the best, and most advanced countries of the world except a few, such as UK and USA, use this system. In PVS you vote for a party and not really for an individual candidate. In PVS every party gives a list of candidates and people vote for one candidate in that list. The PVS has many forms and open list form is the most popular one, and makes it possible for the voters to influence the election of individual candidates within a party list. How?
Let us say that in Shibpur upazila there were 3 powerful candidates from BNP. Who should the party nominate without creating rift among its members? Yes, there is a way by which there can be a free and fair battle between all the 3 candidates without hostility or antagonism between them. The leadership can also learn who will be the right person to stand for the party. Again, how?
Let a voter choose one from the BNP list to vote for and let the most popular one among the 3 candidates be elected. The party lists the names of all the candidates and a voter votes only for one person from it. Thus, while a voter votes for the party, he/she also votes for his/her favourite candidate. The person getting the highest number of votes among the 3 candidates is declared the winner, and he represents the party in the election.
The PVC with open list represents democracy correctly. This system not only guarantees more accurate representation of parties, better representation for political and racial minorities, fewer wasted votes, higher voter turnout, better representation of women, greater likelihood of majority rule, but also ensures, most importantly, that there is no opportunity for vote rigging, buying and using muscle power that we find in most elections of the 3rd world countries where “winner-takes- all” system is followed. By introducing PVS with open list the scenario can be dramatically changed.
The PVS system attracts decent people in politics because they need not spend money or run after voters to be elected. A party that nominates thieves and thugs will be rejected by the decent voters and, thus, more decency would prevail in the election process. By this system, the government of the ignorant, thieves and thugs, touts and terrorists, to some extent, is eliminated. The PVC with open list minimises, and in some cases eliminates unnecessary rifts between the party members and leadership and greatly helps in establishing harmony and fair play in the party. It is very surprising that in Bangladesh very few people, including academicians, do not understand what PVS is and what benefit it can bring in Bangladesh's politics and political system. I hope this write-up draws some attention from the readers and the civil society members in Bangladesh whose voice can make some significant change in our political life.
The writer lives and works in Lund, Sweden. E-Mail: [email protected]